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23 November 2019

Ina Barton (193? - 1974) friend of April Ashley

In the best trans (auto)biographies there are accounts of other trans persons, who are otherwise unknown. This is one such.

Ina, who was from Newcastle, and April Ashley first met in 1955. Ina was then still in male mode – in fact doing National Service in the RAF. Ina was introduced into the house in London where April was living with other gender variant persons. April was at that time going by the unisex name of Toni, and was androgynous in appearance. This was before she went to France. While others were cruising for men, Ina did not. As April wrote: “Ina however was a true transsexual and very unhappy, as I had been in the Merchant Navy. He didn't want to be discharged for being a homosexual because he didn't consider himself one.”

In 1960, after being a star in Paris, and after going to Dr Burou in Casablanca, April was back in London, modelling and being filmed for her very small part in The Road to Hong Kong. Ina had been accepted at Charing Cross. April commented: “Ina Barton who was in the throes of a marathon sex transformation, the specialty of London's Charing Cross Hospital.  They insist on lengthy intervals between each stage and use skin grafts from the legs which leave tell-tale scars on the thighs. So much messier than Dr Burou's technique. But her doctor, John Randell, was very solicitous for her well-being and wrote her letters which began, 'My dearest Galatea...'”.

In 1962 April and Ina were sharing a flat in South Kensington.  This was after April had been outed in The People newspaper, and The News of the World had had run her story in six parts.  Ina went to Spain with April. On a previous trip they had gotten into a drunken slap fight about who was to drive. This time April did drive, but Ina freaked out when April mentioned that she’d never taken a test and didn’t have a license. In the commotion they went over a small cliff .

When Ina’s surgeries at Charing Cross were complete, April took her to Jersey for a week. They rented bicycles. On the second day Ina fell heavily on the cross bar and her vulva was enlarged. She left immediately and returned to London to see her own doctor.

After the trauma of Corbett v Corbett in 1970 , April rallied by opening a restaurant just round the corner from Harrods, that was an immediate sensation, and continued to run it for five years until she had a heart attack. During this time Ina was having problems of her own, and passed on. April: “Ina Barton had recently died from a combination of booze and pills. I believe an open verdict was recorded but that's splitting hairs - in effect she killed herself.”

  • Duncan Fallowell & April Ashley. April Ashley's Odyssey. Jonathan Cape, 1982: 46, 104, 139, 140, 156, 257. Also Online.

In April's second autobiography, The First Lady, the 1955 meeting and Ina's death are mentioned but not the other incidents. 

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