This film is part of Free

What Am I?

Transgender pioneer April Ashley appears in this moving look at the challenges faced by the trans community in 1980s Britain

Current affairs 1980 26 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for Media Archive for Central England

Overview

Years before the Gender Recognition Act of 2004 enabled transgender people to obtain their full rights, the practical difficulties faced by those wishing to change the sex assigned to them at birth were explored in this film produced for the ATV current affairs series Format V. Touching and sometimes frank, the film looks at issues around acceptance but there are also moments of humour, such as Steve's bad luck when bumping into his mother on his first night out presenting as male.

April Ashley, who features in the film while living in Hay on Wye in Herefordshire, was at the centre of a newspaper storm in the early sixties when she married Arthur Corbett, 3rd Baron Rowallan. Their marriage was annulled in 1970 on the grounds that Ashley was born male, despite Corbett knowing this when they were wed. Another significant figure to appear in the film is Judy Cousins who was running a self-help organisation called SHAFT in 1980. She was previously known as Lewen Tugwell, was a noted sculptor and served with the British Army in India.

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