Who is India Willoughby? Celebrity Big Brother 2018 contestant up for eviction and the UK’s first transgender newsreader

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INDIA Willoughby made history by becoming the first trans woman in the world to front an all-female talk show.

She is also a respected journalist and BBC news presenter – and is currently on Celebrity Big Brother – here's India's story…

 India appeared on Loose Women in October 2016Rex Features India appeared on Loose Women in October 2016

Who is India Willoughby?

India Willoughby is a 51-year-old  broadcaster and journalist born Jonathan Willoughby.

Working as a TV reporter at ITV Border, Jonathan presented the news in the North East and Cumbria.

She has a teenage son named Rhodes and is based in Newcastle.

In 2010, she quit her regional job in Carlisle, Cumbria, after ten years of the presenting its news show.

Five years later, she returned to TV and announced that she had transitioned to female and was now named India.

She is currently appearing on Celebrity Big Brother.

 India Willoughby made history by being the first transwoman to present an all-female talk showRex Features India Willoughby made history by being the first transwoman to present an all-female talk show

When and why did India decide to undergo reassignment surgery?

India told Best magazine in March 2017 that she felt like she was always a girl and the "boys' clothes felt like a straitjacket to her".

The journalist had previously revealed the final moment of clarity came when she caught an image of herself in a monitor while working.

She said: “I was nice and smart in my suit but I knew I couldn’t go on because that person wasn’t me.

“I went home in tears, absolutely distraught. I bought myself a bottle of wine and drank it."

“At the end of that night I thought I was going to do myself in," she continued. "I thought I would rather have a clean death to keep my secret a secret.

"Fortunately for me I’m a terrible drinker and I fell asleep, which in a way might have saved my life.”

As a result of the evening, she decided to pursue gender reassignment surgery.

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How did India tell her family?

India admits she struggled with telling her family and young son – and instead spent five years leading a double life.

During the week she worked as a PR woman in Newcastle, then returned to the family home in Cumbria as Jonathan to be a father to her teenage son.

She said: “I didn’t want to lose my family and friends. What I did was I decided to split my life in two.

“I spent weekends as Jonathan in one city and I lived as the real me in Newcastle."

India finally told her son, then 16, in a letter she handed to him after a meal out.

Now living as a single mum, she recalled: “He said, ‘It changes nothing. You’re still my parent.’

“He and his mother have been so supportive and ITV have been fantastic.”

 India made history when she returned to televisionRex Features India made history when she returned to television

 

  • Topics
  • Celebrity Big Brother 2018
  • Explainers
  • Loose Women
  • India Willoughby

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