Transgender trailblazer India Willoughby has entered one of the most famous houses in Britain.
India Willoughby, 51, became known to TV viewers as a presenter of Loose Women, where she is never shy to share her views.
Now India has entered the Celebrity Big Brother house as part of an all-women line-up to mark 100 years of women having the vote.
The journalist and presenter is inside the famous Elstree house alongside anti-LGBT politician Ann Widdecombe, bisexual actress Amanda Barrie and writer Rachel Johnson.
India Willoughby in Celebrity Big Brother 2018
Entering the house, she said: “I’m very much a people person, I can’t wait to meet my fellow housemates. I’ve no idea who’s going in the house; I’m really looking forward to it.
“I think it’s terrific that Big Brother is actually doffing its cap to the suffragettes and everything they did 100 years ago. Rights for women!
“You’re gonna have the tough girls and the softer girls and there’s gonna be a hierarchy in play. And then the guys are gonna come in – some of the girls are gonna fancy some of the guys.
“Some of the guys are gonna fancy some of the girls. And then it’s all gonna kick off.”
What is India Willoughby’s family background?
The TV presenter became known to viewers in the North East as a news anchor for ITV Border, where she worked for 10 years before transitioning.
In 2010, she quit her regional job in Carlisle, Cumbria, to undergo a full transition.
Five years later she re-appeared on TV after transitioning.
The Newcastle-based star has a teenage son named Rhodes.
When did India Willoughby transition?
India revealed in an interview after revealing her transition that she had tried to take her own life before coming out.
She told the Borders Telegraph: “Being trans was something I struggled with for many years, and caused me a lot of stress.
“For five years I led a secret double life, flip-flopping between male and female in two different cities. My family and friends completely oblivious to my alternate worlds.
“Finally exhausted, I stopped fighting and went with the flow.”
Going on, she said: “There were many occasions towards the end of my time at ITV that I thought, ‘I just can’t carry on going in as Jonathan’.
“I used to dream of going in one day and just carrying on my career as the real me, as India. Then I would realise it just wasn’t possible.
“I remember in our newsroom when transsexual people featured in the news and it was considered a joke. Guys would gather around having a laugh.
“To my shame, I would join in because I had a fear that people could see through the act I was putting on. So I would be a bit laddish to hide my true feelings.
“But inside I knew it was me I was laughing at. The climate back then left me in fear.
“The pressure built up because I felt that if the truth came out I was going to lose everything, career, family and friends.
“I’d always known I was in the wrong body. I tried to resist it but it became exhausting.
“It would have been easier if I had had a less high-profile job than being the person who pops up every tea time on TV.”
Coming out as transgender
On her eventual decision to come out, she said: “I was interviewing a politician and caught sight of my reflection… I had slicked back hair, a sharp suit, and looked confident. Yet I stared at myself in disgust. This has got to stop, I thought. I need to be true to myself.”
After she quit, she went for the PR job in Newcastle and changed her name by deed poll.
She said: “I was called for a job interview and knew this was my chance,” said India. “I wore a smart skirt-suit and a little make-up, and the interview went well. They offered me the job, and my double life began.
“During the week, I lived as India in Newcastle and every weekend I’d go back to Carlisle, wearing jeans and a football shirt to see my boy.”
Speaking to the Mirror, India gave some great advice to anyone who thinks they may be trans, saying: “I would say to anyone else in my position, if you know you’re trans, be true to yourself. Grab life and make the most of it.”
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India Willoughby on Loose Women
The TV journalist joined Loose Women to discuss Transgender Awareness Week last year with regular panellists Ruth Langsford, Martine McCutcheon and Janet Street-Porter.
Before the show, India said her appearance felt like a dream.
“I’ve always loved the show so I just can’t believe I’m going to be a part of it,” she said.
“Hopefully my history will bring something new to the mix. All the ‘Loose Women’ have overcome some sort of adversity, they all carry battle scars and that’s what makes them interesting people.
“Mine just happened to my body throughout the journey to become my true self. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world right now and I can’t wait to get live and loose.”
Sally Shelford, Loose Women’s editor, added that what makes the show is the fact each panellist has a different story to tell.
She added: “What makes a great ‘Loose Women’ panellist is the journey they’ve taken to become the woman they are today and India is no different.
“She is an inspiring role model for modern Britain and we can’t wait for her to join the other women for what is set to be a landmark show.”