Leslie Perez
formerly Leslie Douglas Ashley
"Killer Transsexual" or Controversial Activist

To say the life of Leslie Perez was colorful is doing the word a tremendous injustice...
it was more like a made-for-TV movie, with seedy overtones. I'll over-simplify:
In 1961 with a partner, Carolyn Lima, they dabbled in a bit of prostitution and he shot a
man after a sexual encounter went bad, and then they burned his body.
They were caught on the run, and convicted and sentenced to death by electric chair.

A new legal team learned that information had been hid by the prosecution, among
other things, psychiatric reports supporting an insantity plea. Four hours before
execution there was a reprieve, leading to a new trial (media circus) and Leslie was
sent to a mental institution....one apparently with loose security, as he escaped...
big manhunt and headlines, FBI Ten Most Wanted List...after six months he was
captured, working as a clown in a carnival. He was again sentenced, this time to
fifteen years, on a Texas prison farm, chopping cotton. He served five and was released.

Once out of prison his thoughts were on having surgery to become a woman, which
happened in 1981. Now a she (switching pronouns) Leslie gradually got active in Houston
politics. And she became a controversial figure. Ray Hill, one who should know, was quoted as
saying "Leslie is a lightning rod for hostility within the gay community...a lot of people in the
community just can't tolerate her."

Leslie became quite active in local "gay politics," rising to the position of Secretary of the Gay &
Lesbian Political Caucus in 1988 (the group would add the "BT" to its name in 2005). Then
came the involvement, and essential take-over of the local
political action group ACT-UP, by
Leslie and her mother Sylvia Ayres. They registered DBA's for the group, therefore being able to
prove they were in charge of the it, all done without knowledge of the membership.
To sidestep that maneuvering a new group was formed, GUTS, Gay Urban Truth Squad.

At any rate, ACT-UP got a lot of attention, and it was a group quite good at doing that. In a broader
city-wide spectrum, she
ran twice for Democratic Party Chair, surprising most by coming in second,
in 1990 to Ken Bentsen Jr and in 1994 to David Minceberg, losing in run-off elections. At least for the
first election there was criticism that she did so well by shrewdly choosing a Hispanic last name,
with voters picking that with little knowledge of the race. Later that decade, at the end of 1999
both Perez and her mother resigned from the Democratic Party, leaving few to miss them.
The media trail faded away after that, and she died on July 31, 2005. Her mother also died
that year, on January 29, 2005.

There's a Wiki Page


Here is a VERY rare recording, one it took me years to track down.
In prison on death row probably around 1963, Leslie made a
recording, a 45 rpm record, called "I Found Salvation in my Death Cell."
As you might imagine, very few copies were pressed. I wish
she had been talking about her case or her life, but alas, it's just
evangelical rants and nothing personal.

Listen, 13:03

Of course this story made the Tabloids....
Vice Squad September 1963

September 1963

Twisted Lives: The Bizarre Case of Those Sexed-Up Kiss and Kill Queers

Lesley Ashley aka Lesley Perez


And, More tabloid frenzy....a bit earlier, but same ground covered
True Detective, June 1961

the saga of Lesley Perez

Download the Full Article


Below, photo section from Robert Bentley's 1993 book


from TWT,the Montrose Voice, Houston Press and the Advocate


I spotted the above photo in an article posted to a Facebook Australian Queer Archives group.
The article
does not identify the two women in front, but I can. They are Sylvia Ayres and (with hat)
her daughter transwoman Leslie Perez, probably in Houston, early 90s





1/3/38 -- 7/31/05
I found no obituary, only SS records

Wait, there's a bit more....seems that there was a schlocky film made in 1966,
"Burn Baby Burn, The Carolyn Lima Story"...supposedly from her side of the story,
but it probably strayed from that quite a bit...



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