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India Willoughby on Genderquake: I refused to take part, but Channel 4 and Caitlyn Jenner impressed me

India Willoughby May 9, 2018

Host Cathy Newman and Germaine Greer (Channel 4)

Caitlyn Jenner for president – I’m calling it now as Germaine Greer is crushed in a Genderquake.

Moving, educational and inspiring. After what seems like a billion years of darkness, finally a chink of trans television sunlight. What a fabulous programme Genderquake turned out to be.

I was all ready for another horrible badly-informed representation of trans people, because that’s what I’ve come to expect after week upon week of frankly ridiculous stories.

Yet Genderquake really delivered magnificently. Both in the house, and in the debate.

I think most trans people who watched will be very happy with this insight into our multi-layered world. The way it impacts not only on the individual, but their loved ones. The fact that being trans can be agonising and traumatic for family and friends, yet ultimately beautiful.

And maybe, just maybe, it’s made life that little bit easier for some.

(Channel 4)

I had grave reservations about the debate programme on Tuesday night.

Imagine a pair of Christian Louboutins at a duck shoot. That’s what I assumed Caitlyn Jenner’s role would be. A sitting, preening duck served up for Germaine Greer to blast holes into.

On the contrary. Caitlyn is a force to be reckoned with, and I’m calling it here and now. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if she ran for – and became – President of the United States. Genuinely. I think trans people need to give her a break. She came across as far more sensible and composed than Greer or the rather rabid Sarah Ditum.

Surprisingly, Germaine wasn’t her normal spiky self. I suspect that’s more to do with the fact that she realises she has to hold back on the venom, because the public won’t accept it.

Germaine is a busted flush, overtaken by time and events. Gender and sex has changed forever.

No turning back the clock, because young people are clearly not as uptight about labels.

As a 50-year-old woman, I’m getting my head around that, and I think it’s wonderful.

Rather than listen to the preposterous hate groups masquerading as feminists, who say we should all be in fear – we should, in fact, be celebrating.

We need to move away from stigmatising people because of who they say they are – because it will literally save lives.

And I think Genderquake has gone a long way to neutering the pathetic attempts of some hate groups who have been trying to paint all trans people as potential sex monsters.

Channel 4, I hold my hands up. I thought you would load the deck and stuff playing cards up Germaine’s sleeves. A hatchet job.

Not at all. It was great TV and, above all, balanced and fair.

Munroe Bergdorf was articulate and made some great points, while dealing with the sort of ridiculous heckling many trans people get from a certain type of radical feminist.

Cathy Newman handled what was always going to be an emotive discussion wonderfully.

Jake Graf’s input as an advisor was obviously a big help.

For the first time ever, all shades of trans are unifying in the face of what feels like a co-ordinated attack by those with media influence. And it’s so empowering.

We could be truly on the verge of having a voice.

Maybe I’m getting wrapped up in the euphoria of watching such a wonderful programme, but that’s how it feels at this very moment, because these moments are so rare.

My only quibble is this: Three weeks ago, I got a call from the Genderquake researchers, asking if I’d like to take part. I know other well-known British trans people were also approached.

If only Bargain Hunt had been on the phone. Or Cash in the Attic. I would have said yes.

Sadly, those shows never ring. Because trans people still have one primary function on television, which is to be gawped at, or justify ourselves.

And Genderquake was no different, even if it was a fairer representation of what trans people go through, and have to deal with.

It was still centred around whether trans people are authentic – or a threat.

(Channel 4)

Critics will say that we should always be up for a debate. But that’s the point. There really is no case to answer. Trans people are not on trial.

Even though it often feels like it.

The next generation are going to have it so good. And I’m jealous.

Keeping my fingers crossed James Dyson invents a time machine.

Like one of the housemates said: “If you’re a nice person, you’re a nice person.”

It really is as simple as that.

India Willoughby is a newsreader, journalist and television personality. Follow India on Twitter: @IndiaWilloughby.

More: caitlyn jenner, channel 4, Genderquake, India Willoughby, munroe bergdorf, Trans

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