Strictly’s Amanda Abbington claims she supports ‘legitimate’ trans people after transphobia accusations

Amanda Abbington responds to accusations of transphobia in seven-minute long Instagram.

Strictly Come Dancing contestant Amanda Abbington has claimed she supports “legitimate” trans people during a passionate rebuttal of accusations that she’s transphobic.

Abbington is best known for her roles in ITV’s Mr Selfridge and BBC’s Sherlock, opposite her then partner Martin Freeman. But her latest gig sees her joining the Strictly Come Dancing line-up.

Her participation was announced on Friday (4 August) and she will perform alongside fellow celebrity contestants Angela Rippon and openly gay actor Layton Williams.

However, the announcement was immediately met with a backlash from some Strictly fans who shared their disappointment with the BBC for casting someone with a history of anti-trans comments.

Abbington, who has deleted her Twitter account, took to Instagram on Sunday (7 August) to address the accusations that she’s a ‘TERF’ [trans exclusionary radical feminist] and the suggestion that people should boycott Strictly Come Dancing due to her presence.

According to her seven-minute Instagram video, the controversy centres around tweets she made in March in which she criticised a family friendly drag cabaret event Caba Baba Rave, aimed at parents and their babies.

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At the time, Abbington shared a video of a drag artist dancing in a “highly sexualised way”, commenting that the performance was “not for babies” and “if you think it is, there is something fundamentally wrong with you”. In a follow-up tweet she clarified that she “never mentioned the trans community”.

She addressed the situation again in her latest Instagram video, saying: “I need to make this very clear. I love drag. I think it’s an amazing form of entertainment and I f***ing love drag queens. I think they’re hilarious and brilliant, and it’s an art form. There’s absolutely a place for it in the entertainment industry.”

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She added that her son had even played Jamie in his school production of hit drag-themed play Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.

“My tweet in March was regarding a 12-year-old who was doing it in front of adults and it upset me because I saw a kid, a little kid, doing something very over-sexualised and I didn’t think it was right,” Abbington explained.

After saying that 12-year-olds should “have a childhood” and “find that out when they are old enough to understand it”, she reiterated that she “didn’t associate it with the trans community”.

She went on: “Nor would I associate that with the trans community because I think they’re two separate things. I’m not transphobic, I’m a firm supporter of the legitimate trans community, I always have been.

“I think they have been infiltrated by some people who want to cause damage and trouble, put people off [one another] and cause as much harm as possible.”

It is unclear who Abbington believes these infiltrators are.

In the past year, the trans community has faced attacks from government legislation and the mainstream media as well as having to consistently defend themselves in an increasingly hostile environment.

Abbington clarified that she “would support any trans person who is feeling persecuted or not listened to, or not seen”, adding that she is “not a nasty person”.

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She went on to say: “I support the trans community. I also support women’s rights and I support the importance of women within society, and I think those two are being pitted against each other.

“I do believe that we need to look after kids and we need to look after women, and we need to look after legitimate trans people who are finding it really f***ing difficult at the moment, and I’ve wanted that for years.”

She also spoke about “a stupid comment a few years ago” when she was “ill-informed” and “instantly regretted it”. Abbington is thought to be referring to a Facebook comment she wrote in 2020, in response to anti-trans activist Graham Linehan.

She told him she was “hounded off Twitter” and called a TERF for “simply wanting to have a dialogue” about the trans community. “You cannot have a penis and want to be referred to as a woman. Sorry, it’s patriarchy gone insane,” she wrote at the time, although she later issued a public apology.

In the Instagram video posted on Sunday, Abbington continued: “I apologised and I did my research, and I’m much more informed now but the idea I would go after a community that are very sensitive … the idea I would go after the legitimate trans community is not great.

“I think everybody needs to look after [one another] a bit more and not go after [one another] in a negative and horrible way.

“I’m an ally of the LGBT community and I’m an ally of women’s rights and I’m an ally of kids being kids, and I’m an ally of live-and-let-live.”

She then explained that the reason why she was banned from Twitter three times in the past was due to her comments against trophy hunting, not anything else.

“I’ve said stupid things in the past but it’s what you do after them that’s important. I’m not transphobic and I love women … I’m sorry if my tweet about drag shows made you feel like you can’t watch Strictly, I’m genuinely sorry.”

While many fans came out in support of the actor, others pointed out how harmful it is to use the term “legitimate trans people”, implying that there are trans people who are not.

“This video seems agreeable apart from the use of ‘legitimate trans people’,” one person commented. “It says a lot without saying a lot, implying that we should expect trans people to ‘prove’ their gender, though we’re rightly horrified when that’s asked of women.”

Abbington replied: “I mean [legitimate] in the sense that there are people who will absolutely take advantage of the trans community for their own benefit.

“Like with every community, there will be some individuals who aren’t in it for the right reasons. That’s what I mean. There is a hijacking going on and it’s affecting the trans community.”

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