India Willoughby’s Women of the Year nomination results in predictable anti-trans backlash
Broadcaster and trans activist India Willoughby has made history by becoming the first trans Women of the Year nominee.
In July, Willoughby was nominated for the accolade for her campaign work by a panel of women, but has said she was unable to announce the honour, due to a threat made earlier in the year against her safety.
A death threat, which is being investigated by the Met Police, was allegedly delivered to her home by the neo-Nazi group National Action in May.
Women of the Year – a non-profit organisation which held its first event in 1955 – aims to recognise, celebrate and advance the achievements of women in the UK and around the world.
On Saturday (14 October), the TV personality, who was the first trans woman to co-host all-woman talk show Loose Women, announced her nomination on X / Twitter.
Followers were quick to celebrate Willoughby’s achievement, writing that it was “well deserved”, but, predictably, it also attracted an anti-trans backlash.
“Your nomination is so well-earned. Proud moment for all your followers too. Thanks for representing like you do,” one person commented.
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Another wrote: “Oh India, this has made my day! So well-deserved. Finally some positive acknowledgment for you and your dedication.”
One comment foreshadowed the backlash the nomination would stir, adding: “Oh this is going to create a Twitter storm! You ready for it, and well done!”
Lesbian former tennis star Martina Navratilova, who has campaigned against trans people participating in women’s sport, was among those to hit out at Willoughby on X, calling her a “nasty piece of work”.
In a second post about the nomination, Navratilova described Willoughby as “not anyone I would ever want to hang out with, to say the least”.
Her attack on Willoughby has seen many follow suit.
Willoughby told PinkNews she found the tennis star’s comments “very sad”.
“Today is a celebration of women from all walks of life, each with our own stories,” the broadcaster added.
“Although it may not seem it at times, the right are losing their war on culture. This isn’t the 1970s anymore.”
In an op-ed written for Scottish newspaper The Herald – which Willoughby claimed would “not get published in England” – she claimed she had targeted by a torrent of abuse over her nomination.
The broadcaster, who said she has blocked 200,000 Twitter accounts, added she hopes her nomination is a “small green shoot” to the trans community. She added: “We are not alone. Most mums, grandmas, sisters are on our side.”
The 58-year-old has dedicated her award to “every trans and gender diverse person in Britain, who has been made the target of the most disgusting, heavy-artillery propaganda campaign in British history”.
In recent months, the UK trans community has come under first from the Conservative government.
During the Tory Party conference in October, prime minister Rishi Sunak said it was “common sense” that a “man is a man and a woman is a woman”.
His comment followed several Tory members using their speeches to attack trans people, with health secretary Steve Barclay announcing he would work towards a ban on trans women from female NHS wards – a policy backed by home secretary Suella Braverman.
Data published by the Home Office in October has suggested that a sharp rise in hate crime against trans people could be fulled by anti-trans comments by politicians.
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