Here’s what departed Strictly star Amanda Abbington said about trans people and drag

The promotional photo for Amanda Abbington on Strictly Come Dancing.

Sherlock star Amanda Abbington has withdrawn from BBC competition Strictly Come Dancing after initially pulling out of last weekend’s show due to medical reasons.

The 51-year-old actress was expected to return this weekend for the Halloween special, but a post on the official Strictly social media accounts yesterday (23 October) confirmed that the performer is “unable to continue” with the show and has “decided to withdraw from the competition”.

In a new statement on her own Instagram page, Abbington said she “did not come to this decision easily or lightly” but had to leave the competition due to “personal reasons”.

Over the weekend, she shared a quote by the late Robin Williams on her instagram Stories, which read: “People don’t fake depression … they fake being okay. Remember that. Be kind.”

Abbington’s departure comes after the announcement of her participation in Strictly was overshadowed by controversy over statements she has previously shared about drag queens and trans people, with some viewers threatening to boycott the show.

What has Amanda Abbington said about the LGBTQ+ community?

In 2020, Amanda Abbington commented on a Facebook post by anti-trans activist Graham Lineham in which she said that she had been “hounded off Twitter” and “accused of being a TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist)” because she had wanted to “have a dialogue” about trans rights.

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“It isn’t f**king black and white. You cannot have a penis and want to be referred to as a woman. Sorry, it’s patriarchy gone insane,” she wrote in the post.

In an Instagram video posted in August 2023, in response to calls for a Strictly boycott, Abbingdton said she “instantly regretted” the “incredibly hurtful” comment, which she said she wrote when she was “ill informed”.

She also reportedly wrote on X, formerly Twitter, before she deleted her account: “If you don’t actually have proper, real breast milk in your breasts, just don’t try and breastfeed your baby.”

Amanda Abbington has shared her views on children witnessing ‘over-sexualised’ drag shows

In March, Amanda Abbington took aim at the family-friendly, sensory drag event Caba Baba Rave, aimed at parents and their babies. In a post on X, she wrote: “If you think it is [for babies], there is something fundamentally wrong with you.”

She also clarified that she thought that “a semi-naked man in thigh high boots dancing in a highly sexualised way shouldn’t be performing in front of babies”, but insisted that she “never mentioned the trans community”.

In her August Instagram video, Abbington attempted to clear the air, saying that she “loves” 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,” she said.

She went on to add: “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.”

Amanda Abbington said she supports the ‘legitimate’ trans community

Also during her August Instagram video, Amanda Abbington insisted that she is “not transphobic” and is a “firm supporter of the legitimate trans community”.

She suggested that she thinks the “legitimate” trans community has “been infiltrated by some people who want to cause damage and trouble, put people off [one another] and cause as much harm as possible.”

She concluded that she “would support any trans person who is feeling persecuted or not listened to, or not seen”, insisting that she is “not a nasty person”.

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