April Ashley, one of the first Britons to undergo gender-reassignment surgery, was made a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) this week.
On Thursday, Ashley—who, after her surgery in 1960, worked as a model and actress and fought for the rights of the trans community—was escorted by actor Simon Callow to Buckingham Palace for her investiture.
Ashley, 77, became tabloid fodder in 1961 when a confidante sold her story to the Sunday People in 1961. Her marriage to British noble Arthur Corbett was annulled after seven years in 1970 on the grounds that she’d been born male, even though Corbett was aware of her background when they wed.
It wasn’t until the passage of the UK’s Gender Recognition Act in 2004 that Ashley was able to legally receive a new birth certificate, with help from Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.
Others honored as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honors list were actor Kenneth Branagh and Take That’s Gary Barlow.