Former ITV presenter opens up about leading ‘double life’ during transition
A former ITV News presenter has opened up about living a “double life” during her transition.
India Willoughby, who used to present ITV News’ regional Borders programme, opened up about difficulties she has had, after completing her transition last month.
The 50-year-old former Lookaround presenter said she had wanted to come out as trans before she transitioned to female, but that she was too scared of a backlash.
Going on, she said she contemplated suicide, when she was living as female on weekdays, after quitting broadcasting, working in Newcastle, and living as male back at home in Carlisle.
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.”
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, she 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.”
In July, India says she finally got the courage to come out as trans to her son, and to her relief he accepted her.
She said she hopes to go back to working in the news, saying: “My life finally feels whole. I hope one day that I’ll read the news again too.”
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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