A transgender newsreader who made her on-screen comeback this month after taking time off to transition has spoken about her life.
India Willoughby had presented the news for the ITV Border region for more than a decade under her former name, presenting as male.
However she quit the role in 2010 to step away from the spotlight – and in the subsequent years has come out as transgender and transitioned to female.
Six years on, she has returned to ITV as a journalist for the Tyne Tees region – this time as a woman.
Ms Willoughby appeared on Loose Women yesterday after making her on-air comeback earlier this month, and spoke about stepping back into her role.
She explained she questioned her gender from a young age, saying: “When I was young I was aware something wasn’t quite right… I was about three or four but I didn’t know it was gender.
“My grandma caught me playing with a lipstick and she didn’t tell me off in a nasty way, but she pointed out the rules of pink and blue.”
Seeing a clip of her former newsreader self, the newsreader said: “It’s really difficult to look at the old me. I accept it because you can’t deny who you were for such a long time, but it’s quite difficult.”
Ms Willoughby added that while working as a man, she struggled to repress her female self.
She said: “It’s really difficult, it’s like holding your breath underwater. Every now and again I would come up for air by taking myself on a weekend somewhere and live as a woman.”
The newsreader added: “My hardest part was telling my son, because he is the apple of my eye. I wrote it down because I couldn’t articulate it. He came over and said, it changes nothing. I am super proud.”
“I think, especially in this day and age, there’s nothing weird about it – it’s just a characteristic of a human being, like having freckles.”
Speaking previously, she thanked her employer for their inclusive reception, saying: “ITV have been fantastic, it hasn’t been weird or awkward and they have just welcomed me back.
“I didn’t feel nervous at all when I walked back through the door again, they made me feel like I was home.
“I am just getting my toes back into the water for now, I have a lot to catch up on from over the last 10 years and all of the technology has changed massively.
“There are obviously a lot of new faces but I can still have the same banter with the old ones – they have realised that I am the still the same person, I just look different on the outside.
“I don’t think that there have been people like me in the public eye in this country before – I wouldn’t want to make myself out to be some kind of an example or anything but it just shows how the nature of TV has changed for the better.
“I don’t think that I would have been accepted a few years ago.”