BMD higher for transgender men, lower for transgender women vs cisgender controls

Transgender men receiving testosterone have higher total volumetric bone mineral density than cisgender women, whereas transgender women on estradiol have lower volumetric BMD compared with cisgender men, according to study data.

“Bone structure may potentially be impaired in transgender people using feminizing hormones, and whilst further study is needed to work out whether this is attributed to HT, a proactive approach to optimizing bone healthshould be recommended to all transgender people starting feminizing hormones,” Ada S. Cheung, MBBS (Hon), FRACP, PhD, associate professor in the departments of medicine and endocrinology at the University of Melbourne, Australia, told Healio. “Bone structure in transgender people using masculinizing hormones is not compromised.”

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Cheung and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study of transgender adults aged 18 years and older receiving gender-affirming HT for at least 1 year from April 2017 to April 2018. Participants were recruited from endocrinology and primary care clinics specializing in transgender health in Melbourne. Data from transgender men receiving intramuscular or transdermal testosterone were compared with data from a control group of cisgender women, and data from transgender women receiving oral or transdermal estradiol were compared with those from cisgender men. All participants underwent imaging of the nondominant distal radius and distal tibia. Bone microarchitecture differences were presented in the number of standard deviations (SD) of the mean in cases for transgender participants relative to age-matched cisgender controls.

“We therefore sought to determine whether measurement of microarchitecture will identify any association between gender-affirming hormone therapy and bone morphology,” the researchers wrote. “We hypothesized that in transgender men, testosterone administration is associated with deficits in bone microarchitecture while in transgender women, estradiol administration is associated with preservation of bone microarchitecture.”

The study included 41 transgender men compared with 71 cisgender women, and 40 transgender women compared with 51 cisgender men. Transgender men had 0.85 SD higher total cross-sectional area and 0.63 SD higher total volumetric BMD compared with cisgender women (P = .01 for both). Cortices were 1.11 SD thicker (P < .01) and trabeculae 0.38 SD thicker (P = .05) in transgender men compared with cisgender women.

Transgender women had 0.21 SD lower total cross-sectional area (P = .05) and 0.68 SD lower volumetric BMD (P = .01) compared with cisgender men. Cortical volumetric BMD was 0.7 SD lower (P < .01), cortical thickness was 0.51 SD lower (P = .04) and cortical porosity 0.7 SD higher (P < .01) in transgender women compared with cisgender men. Trabecular bone volume/tissue volume was 0.77 SD lower in transgender women than cisgender men (P < .01), and transgender women had 0.57 SD fewer trabeculae (P < .01) with 0.3 SD greater thickness (P = .02). Trabecular separation was 0.56 SD greater in transgender women compared with cisgender men (P = .01).

“Bone density in trans women was lower than control men,” Cheung said. “We hypothesize that this may be due to low bone density prior to starting feminizing HT — which may be related to various potential factors, such as reduced exercise participation, less physical activity, greater social isolation or low vitamin D levels — or insufficient estradiol levels.”

The researchers said prospective studies are needed to examine the effects of HT on bone microstructure, the effects of treatment on BMD independent of body composition, and whether the differences observed in the study are due to changes among cisgender adults, transgender adults or both.

“Higher doses of estradiol may be needed to offset bone loss, but given the potential for adverse cardiovascular and venous thromboembolic effects, an alternative approach might be administration of bisphosphonate therapy, but further research is needed,” Cheung said.

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Transgender UPenn swimmer Lia Thomas continues dominance with two more wins

University of Pennsylvania transgender swimmer Lia Thomas continued to dominate the competition Saturday, winning two races in a meet against Ivy League rival Harvard University.

Thomas, 22, won the women’s 100-yard and 200-yard freestyle races at the meet, held just days after USA Swimming announced it will release a new policy for “elite” transgender athletes.

Thomas finished first in her 100-yard race in 50.55 seconds with her closest competitor coming in at 51.51. In the 200-yard race, she won in 1:47.08 with the second place swimmer finishing behind at 1:48.44, according to listed results.

Thomas, who previously swam for UPenn’s men’s team for three years before transitioning, made a name for herself breaking school and national records this year, prompting the NCAA to review its guidelines for transgender athletes.

Thomas has qualified to compete in March at the 2022 NCAA swimming and diving championships, where she is set to race in the women’s 200-yard, 500-yard and 1,650-yard freestyle.

University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas continued to dominate her competition on Saturday, winning two races in a meet against Ivy League rival Harvard University on January 22, 2022.
University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas continued to dominate her competition on Saturday, winning two races in a meet against Ivy League rival Harvard University on January 22, 2022.

The NCAA Board of Governors approved new guidelines on Wednesday that said transgender participation for each sport will be determined by the policy for the sport’s national governing body, subject to review and recommendation by an NCAA committee to the Board of Governors.

The new NCAA regulations require Thomas and transgender student-athletes to document testosterone levels, which must meet sport-specific levels, four weeks before their sport’s championship selections.

USA Swimming, swimming’s national governing body, said in a statement released on social media on Thursday that it will determine whether transgender male and female athletes can compete against those who are biologically male or female.

Lia Thomas swims for the University of Pennsylvania at an Ivy League swim meet against Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on January 22, 2022.
Lia Thomas swims for the University of Pennsylvania at an Ivy League swim meet against Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on January 22, 2022.
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The organization, which oversees over 360,000 coaches, volunteers and swimmers from young age groups up to the Olympic level.

“USA Swimming firmly believes in inclusivity and the opportunity for all athletes to experience the sport of swimming in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity and expression. We also strongly believe in competitive equity, and, like many, are doing our best to learn and educate ourselves on the appropriate balance in this space,” the organization said.

Cynthia Millen, who had officiated USA Swimming meets for three decades, stepped down ahead of the U.S. Paralympics Swimming National Championships in Greensboro, N.C., in December after she “told my fellow officials that I can no longer participate in a sport that allows biological men to compete against women,” she said in a statement.

This post first appeared in the NYPOST

Netflix’s ‘Queer Eye’ features San Antonio transgender powerlifter on new season

n the latest season of Queer Eye, the Fab 5 set temporary roots in Austin to meet their new heroes: a honk-tonk dance instructor; a rancher; an entire prom committee; two restaurant owners; a doctor; and a powerlifter, San Antonio’s own Angel Flores. Flores is a 22-year-old transgender trainer and Olympic weightlifting coach who dominates in the gym but needed a spot in building up her confidence.

The Netflix reboot launched its Austin season on New Year’s Eve after postponing the series for months due to the pandemic. The show stars the Fab 5 – Jonathan Van Ness, Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Antoni Porowski, and Tan France – with each bringing their own skill set to makeover, support, and provide guidance into the lives of their heroes.

Flores tells MySA feeling confident in the gym was easy but she grew extremely self-conscious when outside the walls of  the Liberation Barbell Club – the queer-owned, Austin-based gym featured on the show. In the episode, the Antonian College Preparatory High School graduate highlights her transition and how she began hormone replacement therapy in July 2020 at 20.

She talks about her time with the Fab 5 back when Netflix filmed the show last year. 

Throughout her episode, Flores begins to feel more comfortable in her skin with the help of the Fab 5. France takes shopping, Bobby gives her home a makeover, Antoni brings her mom on the show to cook up a dish together, and JVN provides the self-care knowledge for skin, hair, and makeup. The most emotional part for viewers was when Karamo helps Flores reconnect with her father – someone she hadn’t talked to since starting her transition.

“My relationship with my father has improved tenfold,” Flores says. “We’ve been keeping in touch, and he’s come to every single holiday. We’ve been very receptive to each other and open with each other. He’s done an amazing job at education himself and trying his hardest.”

Growing up, Flores says her father put her in nearly every sport. However, football was the one where Flores shined. When Flores began studying at the University of Texas at Austin, that’s where she fell in love with athletics. She graduated with a bachelor’s in kinesiology with a concentration in coaching.

Angel Flores grew up in sports but started realizing athletics and powerlifting was her passion when she started her college career. 
Angel Flores grew up in sports but started realizing athletics and powerlifting was her passion when she started her college career.

As a trans athlete, Flores says she can’t compete at the USA weightlifting championships but does in the USA Powerlifting MX Category, a powerlifting competition that features a category of trans people. The new category was launched in January 2021. She currently holds the state deadlift record — a whopping 402 pounds.

“That’s my number one desire in the entire world,” Flores says. “Not because I have some easy chance of winning, but because I don’t. Because I have to work for it, and I have to train for it.”

One of the biggest obstacles Flores faces as a trans athlete is educating those who don’t understand what happens to the body when someone transitions, such as losing muscle mass and bone density. Flores notes she has dropped a shoe size and her hands have shrunk.

“All these things bring us more in line with the cisgender athlete, and I would argue that once we undergo a year and a half to two years of transition, we’ve reached that level of basically being matched up with our cisgender peers,” Flores says. “So to be at competitions with people who don’t understand that and to hear people whispering things behind my back, it’s a challenge. However, it’s the sport that saves me.”

This post originally appeared in MySanAntonio


The American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA) issued a statement today calling for the NCAA “and all governing bodies” to review and update their rules about the participation of transgender student-athletes, specifically in women’s swimming.

The ASCA asked for “science and evidenced-based [sic] research” to be used in setting new rules. The coaches association noted that “The current NCAA policy regarding when transgender females can compete in the women’s category can be unfair to cisgender females and needs to be reviewed and changed in a transparent manner.”

The NCAA Board of Governors had already announced its intention to discuss its transgender participation policy at its meeting on Thursday, January 20, and that it would issue a statement shortly thereafter.

The issue of transgender athletes in women’s swimming, in particular, has come to the forefront in recent months, with Penn swimmer Lia Thomas gaining international media attention for her record-breaking swims this fall. Thomas, who swam for the Quakers’ men’s team for three years before her transition, has the nation’s top times in the 200 free (1:41.93) and 500 free (4:34.06) and is ranked sixth in the 1650 free (15:59.71).

The ASCA represents a broad spectrum of swimming coaches in the United States, not just college coaches. The organization is not typically involved in legislating the sport at the collegiate level; its activities are more centered around certification and education for its 11,000 members. Another organization, the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA), represents some 2,000 member coaches and assistant coaches and advocates for the welfare of intercollegiate swimming and diving at all divisions of the NCAA, the NAIA, and the junior college associations.

As of this writing, neither the CSCAA nor USA Swimming, the governing body for the sport of swimming in the United States, have formally addressed the subject. USA Swimming CEO Tim Hinchey said last month that Lia Thomas was not a member at the time.

This post was originally in swim swam

Transgender, Nonbinary Veterans Can Now Include Gender Identity in Health Records

Veterans who identify as transgender or nonbinary can now say so in their official Department of Veterans Affairs medical records, the VA announced this week.

“All veterans, all people, have a basic right to be identified as they define themselves,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said in a statement Wednesday announcing the health records change. “This is essential for their general well-being and overall health. Knowing the gender identity of transgender and gender diverse veterans helps us better serve them.”

VA medical records now include a gender identity field where veterans can choose to say they are a transgender man, a transgender woman, nonbinary, other or do not wish to disclose their gender, the department said in Wednesday’s press release. Nonbinary means someone identifies as neither male nor female.

Knowing a veteran’s gender identity can help health care providers better understand their patients’ needs, including whether they may have experienced stigma and discriminatrion that could be affecting their health, the VA said.

In an October 2020 report, the Government Accountability Office, or GAO, found the VA might miss opportunities to provide appropriate health care to LGBT veterans because the department did not collect any data on sexual orientation or gender identity. At the time, 89% of veterans who used the Veterans Health Administration, or VHA, had no gender identity information in their records, according to the report.

“Inconsistently collected data and incomplete knowledge of health disparities may affect transgender veterans’ health outcomes,” the GAO wrote. “For example, without information on health outcomes VHA may be unable to alert providers to potential disparities they should be attentive to in the care of their transgender patients.”

Shortly after taking office in February 2021, McDonough ordered a review of department policies to ensure the VA is a “welcoming and inclusive environment for LGBT vets and employees.” The review followed an executive order from President Joe Biden requiring agencies to assess their policies to ensure they prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity or sexual orientation.

In June, McDonough announced the department was moving to cover gender affirmation surgery, kicking off a two-year rulemaking process to change the medical coverage package.

But transgender veterans have expressed concern the department is moving unnecessarily slowly in actually covering surgeries, losing valuable time that could hurt transgender veterans’ physical and mental health.

This post was originally in military

‘Jeopardy!’ champ Amy Schneider may be a game-changer for the trans community

It’s possible that many “Jeopardy!” viewers are not even aware, 30 shows in, that super-champ Amy Schneider — one of the four winningest contestants in the show’s history — is a trans woman.

But LGBTQ+ viewers know.

They also know that Schneider could be a cultural game-changer.

“She’s phenomenal,” said Leslie Farber, a Montclair lawyer. “With a personality to match her intelligence.”

Mainstream viewers might not know because Schneider herself doesn’t make a big point of it. Neither does the show.

Amy Schneider competes on "Jeopardy!"

It’s come up a few times, in casual banter with guest host Ken Jennings, in the weeks leading up to Schneider’s big milestone: passing the $1 million mark last Friday. But Schneider, an engineering manager, is so low-key and relaxed, so seemingly comfortable inside her skin, that the issue quickly became a non-issue for almost everyone except some social media trolls who felt the need to throw shade online.

This post first appeared on NorthJersey

Hanover School Board responds to ACLU allegations over transgender students’ policies

Hanover County’s School Board has responded to an ACLU of Virginia lawsuit filed last month on behalf of the parents of five transgender students who say the board violated state law by not adopting policy revisions in November that would expressly allow their children to use school bathrooms and facilities that align with their gender identity.

The 103-page response filed last Friday in Hanover County Circuit Court argues that the School Board is not in violation of state law for its actions taken Nov. 9, when it voted down the policy change, nor is an injunction — sought by the plaintiffs in this case — an appropriate action allowed by the court.

The lawsuit stems from the board’s Nov. 9 actions, when it unanimously approved policy revisions that allow Hanover school officials to “use the name and gender consistent with the student’s gender identity” upon request of the student and parent, but shot down the more contentious transgender bathroom policy, as its widely known both at the state and federal levels.

Virginia’s 2020 law was largely sparked by the Gavin Grimm case, in which Grimm, a transgender man, sued the Gloucester County School Board in 2015 after it barred him from using the boys restroom. A federal court ruled in his favor — that the actions by the School Board were unconstitutional and violated his rights under Title IX — and that ruling stands after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case last summer.

The General Assembly passed legislation in 2020 requiring all of Virginia’s 132 school divisions to adopt policies regarding the treatment of trnsgender and nonbinary students. It directed the Virginia Department of Education to first create model guidelines, and school divisions could then adopt those policies or create their own, provided that school divisions’ policies were “consistent with but may be more comprehensive” than VDOE’s model policies.

School divisions were instructed to have policies in place before the start of the current school year.

Hanover was already behind when it took its actions in November. The ACLU sued under state laws that allow parents of students aggrieved by an action of their school board to challenge that action in circuit court within 30 days. In this case, the plaintiffs are parents of transgender students — two in elementary school, two in middle and one in high school.

The complaint, filed Dec. 9, asked the court for temporary/preliminary or permanent injunctions, which declare that the School Board’s actions were a violation of Virginia’s law on adopting transgender policies. It asked the court to order the School Board to adopt policies consistent with VDOE’s model policies, and to grant “other and such further relief as this Court deems equitable and just under the circumstances.”

Hanover’s response, filed by School Board Attorney Lisa Seward, argues, in part, that Virginia law doesn’t require school boards to adopt the language of the model policies in their entirety, nor does it require boards to adopt the model policies into their existing policies.

“Rather, school boards are required to ensure that their policies — whether as those policies existed prior to the enactment of [the state law] or after the issuance of the Model Policies—are ‘consistent with’ the Model Policies,” the response said.

The response said that while the board did not adopt the proposed bathroom revision on Nov. 9, the board said publicly back then that it wished to “continue working on revisions” to its policies and that that action “did not constitute the adoption of any new policy that was inconsistent with the Model Policies.” It noted that current School Board policy “provides that Hanover County Public Schools’ programs and services do not discriminate against any individual for reasons of gender identity.”

Further, the response said that “while the General Assembly could have required that school boards adopt particular language in their local policies, or include the Model Policies themselves in local policy, it did not. Rather, it merely required that school boards review their policies to ensure that they were not inconsistent with [state law]. The School Board is in the process of doing that, and will continue to do so going forward.”

This post first appeared on Richmond

Mj Rodriguez becomes 1st transgender actor to win a Golden Globe

And the category is…Golden Globes history.

On Sunday, Michaela Jaé “Mj” Rodriguez, 31, took home a Golden Globe for best actress in a TV drama for her role as housemother and nurse Blanca on the FX show “Pose.” It marks the first time in history a transgender actor has won a Golden Globe.

This is also the first Golden Globe win for “Pose,” which premiered in 2018.

Rodriguez made history for the first time last summer after becoming the first transgender performer to be nominated for a lead acting Emmy. Rodriguez did not end up winning that award.

While “Pose” has been hailed for the largest transgender cast in a scripted series, the show’s stars have been vocal regarding the lack of award recognition they have received.

In 2020, “Pose” co-stars Indya Moore and Angelica Ross spoke out against the Emmys for overlooking the show’s Black transgender cast in its list nominees that year.

“Something abt trans ppl not being honored on a show abt trans ppl who created a culture to honor ourselves bc the world doesn’t,” tweeted Moore, who plays Angel Evangelista, a transgender sex worker pursuing a career as a fashion model. “Let’s call it cognitive cissonance.”

Angelica Ross, who played Black trans woman Candy Ferocity on the show, retweeted Moore and spoke candidly on Instagram about the snubs at the time.

“I want you to know from the jump that these tears are not about an award or a nomination,” Ross said. “Ultimately, I need y’all to understand that I’m so tired — those of you who know me know I’m not just working on screen or behind screen but I’m working around the clock to get our society to value trans lives and Black trans lives.”

“Wow! You talking about sickening birthday present! Thank you! This is the door that is going to open the door for many more young talented individuals,” she wrote on Instagram. “They will see that it is more than possible. They will see that a young Black Latina girl from Newark, New Jersey who had a dream, to change the minds others would WITH LOVE. LOVE WINS. To my young LGBTQAI babies WE ARE HERE the door is now open now reach the stars!!!!!”

Rodriguez also shouted out her fellow nominees: Uzo Aduba, Jennifer Aniston, Christine Baranski and Elisabeth Moss.

“To the nominees we are Queens,” she wrote. “I’m so happy to share space with you! Each and every last one of you women are phenomenal.”

This post originally appeared in NBCnews


April Ashley, London Socialite and Transgender Pioneer, Dies at 86

She modeled for Vogue, partied with John Lennon and Mick Jagger, and married into minor nobility, all while fighting for legal recognition of her gender.

Credit…Press Association /AP

April Ashley, a model and socialite who rose from poverty in Liverpool to the heights of London society, a feat achieved as much through her striking good looks as it was through her status as one of the first Britons to undergo gender confirmation surgery, died on Dec. 27 at her home in London. She was 86.

Tim Brunsden, a friend, confirmed the death. He did not specify a cause but said she had been in failing health.

With her statuesque figure, her enrapturing doe eyes and her Zeligesque ability to rub shoulders with everyone worth knowing among the European chic set, Ms. Ashley embodied the swinging hedonism of 1960s Britain as it sloughed off decades of austerity to embrace material wealth.

She partied with John Lennon and Mick Jagger. Salvador Dalí wanted to paint her (nude; she declined). Elvis Presley wooed her. Later, in a series of tell-all memoirs, she disclosed the names of some of her many lovers, including the actor Omar Sharif and the singer Michael Hutchence.

She worked, when she needed to, as a hostess and a dancer. But she also cultivated enough wealthy friends that such need was infrequent.

“If you decided to fly to Geneva in your private plane for lunch, then April was your girl,” The Sunday Observer wrote in 1982.

Credit…Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Scandal seemed to follow Ms. Ashley: A friend outed her as transgender to a tabloid in 1961. Her brief marriage to the son of a British baron set off a high-profile annulment fight, resulting in a landmark 1970 decision denying transgender women legal status as women — and denying Ms. Ashley any of her husband’s inheritance.

She eventually retreated from the limelight, first to the English countryside, then to California and finally to the South of France.

By the time she returned to Britain in 2005, the country’s attitudes about gender identity were starting to change. When she had left, in the early 1980s, she called herself a “freak” and said that strangers had poked and sneered at her; now she was embraced as a hero.

Credit…SEAN DEMPSEY/AFP/Getty Images

She was named to the Order of the British Empire in 2012 for her “service to transgender equality.” In 2015, Liverpool, her hometown, acknowledged her accomplishments by naming her a “citizen of honor.”

“I always say three things,” she told The Liverpool Daily Post in 2008. “Be beautiful, be kind — to yourself and others — and most of all be brave. Chins up — get on with life and be as brave as you can.”

April Ashley was born on April 29, 1935, in Liverpool and grew up in public housing. Her father, Frederick Jamieson, was a cook for the Royal Navy who was often away at sea and often inebriated when at home. But she also recalled him as a “gentle drunk” who, after she transitioned, was the only member of her family to accept her.

Her mother, Ada (Brown) Jamieson, worked in a bomb factory during World War II. She was abusive, as were the boys at school, who teased April as she began to exhibit female characteristics as she grew up, like rounded hips and breasts, though she still identified as a boy. Ms. Ashley told The Daily Mail in 1970 that as a child she would pray, “Please God, when I wake up, let me be a girl.”

Desperate to prove her masculinity nevertheless, she joined the Merchant Navy in 1951. But once again she was bullied for her physical appearance, and during shore leave in Los Angeles she attempted suicide.

Back in Liverpool, she checked herself into a mental hospital, where she begged the doctors to “make me more manly,” she wrote in a first-person account for News of the World in 1961. They treated her with drugs and electroshock therapy. “It lasted a year,” she recalled, “and at the end of the day they told me it was no use.”

Unwelcome at home, she moved to London, where she started dressing as a woman. During a vacation in France, she met a group of drag performers, who got her a job dancing at Le Carrousel, a famed Paris nightclub.

By then Ms. Ashley was taking estrogen and saving for her transition surgery. In 1960, with a reference letter from Coccinelle, a Carrousel dancer and the first known French person to transition, she traveled to Casablanca, Morocco. There she met Dr. Georges Burou, a gynecologist who had pioneered techniques in gender transition.

The surgery lasted seven hours. Ms. Ashley recalled that just before she went under, Dr. Burou said, “Au revoir, Monsieur.” When she woke up, he greeted her with “Bonjour, Mademoiselle.”

She returned to London, where she registered with the government as a woman under the name April Ashley. Her stunning looks and her background as a dancer eased her way into London’s fashion world, and she was soon modeling lingerie for some of Britain’s top designers. She began acting, too, appearing in a small role in “The Road to Hong Kong,” the last of the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby “Road” movies, which was released in 1962.

But her budding career was cut short in 1961 when a friend sold Ms. Ashley’s story to a British tabloid. Six months of modeling contracts dried up immediately, and the producers of the film cut her name from the credits.

She moved to Spain, where she found attitudes more relaxed and work easier to come by. Along with modeling, she picked up work dancing and hosting in the nightclubs along the Costa del Sol, including one owned by Arthur Corbett, the rakish son of Thomas Corbett, the second Baron Rowallan.


Credit…Simpson/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

After a two-year courtship — Mr. Corbett had to finalize his divorce from his first wife — the two married in 1963. He was fully aware of her identity, but they never consummated the marriage; each blamed the other, and Ms. Ashley ran away with a Spanish nobleman two weeks later.

She bounced around Europe for several years, living and occasionally working in Naples, Rome and Paris. She befriended the actor Peter O’Toole and had an affair with Mr. Sharif, Mr. O’Toole’s co-star in “Lawrence of Arabia.”


Credit…From left: Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, via Getty Images; Jens Schwarz/laif, via Redux; Fred

When money ran short, she sued her husband for failure to pay her a stipend. He countersued for an annulment. The litigation had all the trappings of celebrity scandal — Sex! Fashion! The peerage! — and once again Ms. Ashley made headlines.

The case, Corbett v. Corbett, dragged on for three years. In his decision against Ms. Ashley, in 1970, the judge ruled that despite her surgery, she was “at all times a man,” and that marriage between two men was impossible.

Ms. Ashley was nothing if not a self-restarter. With a friend she opened a restaurant in London, April and Desmond’s; the food was mediocre, but the crowds were swinging. Ms. Ashley often worked the door, bedecked in Thea Porter caftans and once again running with London’s chic set.

Never one to avoid a party, she bragged of once downing 32 martinis in a night. Whether or not that was true, the louche life took its toll, and after a series of heart attacks she decamped in 1975, settling in Hay-on-Wye, a small bohemian town on the Welsh border. In the early 1980s, seeking to start over yet again, she moved to San Diego, where she found anonymity in a studio apartment and a job selling glass swans and alabaster wolves at a wildlife-themed art gallery.

At one point she married Jeffrey West; they divorced after about a decade. She leaves no immediate survivors.

In the late ’90s, Ms. Ashley moved to a town outside Nice, France, to be closer to her friends. Interest in her story picked up in 2001, after she appeared in a popular documentary about Mr. Corbett’s family. That same year the European Commission on Human Rights struck down Corbett v. Corbett, forcing Britain to write new laws regarding transgender rights.

Ms. Ashley saw an opening. She reached out to an old friend from her days in London, John Prescott, who by then was the deputy prime minister. Under a new law, he managed in 2005 to get her a new birth certificate, one that confirmed her as a woman.

Credit…via Shutterstock

Ms. Ashley returned to a very different London than the one she had left. If it was still dangerous to be transgender, life had nonetheless significantly improved in the 25 years since she left. Ms. Ashley was once again a celebrity, this time as an activist. She lectured at Oxford, went on talk shows and was the subject of a yearlong museum exhibition in Liverpool.

Still beautiful if no longer young, she adopted yet another identity, that of the upper-crust dowager. She wore her hair in a perfect blue-dyed beehive and was partial to orange accent scarves, impeccable etiquette and incessant name-dropping.

She wrote a memoir, “The First Lady” (2006), with Douglas Thompson. It was optioned for a film, with Catherine Zeta-Jones lined up to play her. But things fell apart when it was revealed that she had plagiarized large sections ofis h the book from a previous autobiography, “April Ashley’s Odyssey,” which she wrote in 1982 with Duncan Fallowell, and both Mr. Fallowell and the publisher of the earlier book objected. Copies of “The First Lady” were pulped, the movie plans scratched.

This post first appeared in NYTIMES

‘We can transition to a better country’: a trans Colombian on diversity in ecology and society

Brigitte Baptiste has a high profile as a transgender Colombian woman and an ecologist – in a country where both are targeted.

When Brigitte Baptiste walks on to the 10th floor of Bogotá’s Ean University at 9.45am in a plunging dress, knee-high cheetah-print boots and a silvery wig, the office comes to life. She examines some flowers sent by the Colombian radio station Caracol to thank her for taking part in a forum, her co-worker compliments her on her lipstick, and she settles in for a day of back-to-back meetings, followed by a private virtual conversation with the UN secretary general, António Guterres. Later that evening, she flies to Cartagena for a conference on natural gas.

The 58-year-old ecologist is one of Colombia’s foremost environmental experts, and one of its most visible transgender people, challenging scientific and social conventions alike. An ecology professor at the Jesuit-run Javeriana University for 20 years, she has written 15 books, countless newspaper columns, and won international prizes for her work. Most recently, she was appointed chancellor of Ean University, a business school, as part of its push for greater sustainability.

Baptiste was one of the scientists who founded the Humboldt Institute, the leading biodiversity research centre in Colombia, and she was the director for eight years. Much of her research involved rural development, and biodiversity’s role in land management. It took her to communities from the Amazon to the coast.

She saw the “social character of conservation” and the links between war, displacement and environmental degradation. A forceful proponent of a peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), she saw a deal as an opportunity for a “great ecological experiment” in the swaths of former Farc territory had been unexplored for years.

A garden on the terrace of a building
Green policies in practice at Ean University, where Brigitte Baptiste is chancellor. The garden serves a nearby bee hive. Photograph: Nadège Mazars/The Guardian

Baptiste is a biodiversity expert in a biodiverse country facing destructionfrom deforestation, land grabs, drug trafficking, illegal farming and the displacement of indigenous people. Water pollution from illegal gold mining and inadequate sewage systems have also taken a toll. And this year Colombia was named the world’s deadliest country for environmental defenders for the second year in a row.

Threats to activists concern her more than any other issue, which is what she planned to highlight to Guterres that night in the three minutes allotted to her.

“There is no democracy that can be built on violence, on the extermination of unarmed people,” she says. “There may be many things in Colombia that do not work well environmentally, economically – but all that goes into the background until we are able to respect human rights and guarantee the lives of all Colombians.”

Meetings with world leaders are not uncommon in Baptiste’s career, but the natural-gas conference the following day – where she push energy companies to offset carbon – is a change of pace from the insular world of academia. She decided to take on this role, and the fossil fuel industry meetings that come with it, to apply the results of a lifetime of biodiversity research, and to achieve change from within the system.

Baptiste is a believer in “green capitalism” – that the free market can promote sustainable development.

This post first appeared in theguardian