Popular daytime TV show Loose Women will welcome a transgender panellist for the first time ever today, PR specialist India Willoughby.
India’s appearance makes her the first transwoman in the world to host an all-female talk show.
India, 51, works in PR and previously held a prestigious director title at ITV. However, just six months ago India was on the dole, convinced her career in television was over after transitioning to become a woman two years before.
‘I was signing on, picking up £67 a week,’ she told the Mirror. ‘I thought I would never, ever get near a proper telly job again. I thought my career was over.’
However, India couldn’t be more excited to join the other Loose Women on our screens, saying, ‘I just can’t believe it. I absolutely love the show so it’s beyond my wildest dreams to be a guest panellist.’
Although she’s turned down previous offers of appearing on television for fear of being a ‘novelty’, India believes that the relatable nature of the other Loose Women will have her feeling at home.
‘My history will add something different to the mix and it’s the perfect fit for me. All the Loose Women have overcome some sort of adversity, they all carry battle scars and that’s what makes them interesting people. Mine just happens to be my body.
‘I didn’t want to be considered a novelty. I’ve turned down several TV offers. I want to be working on merit and that’s why it was so perfect for me, because I’m just a girl next door.’
India is happy to be making history, hopefully opening a door for other transgender women to appear on more TV shows like Loose Women, ‘If I can help others in my situation by becoming a panellist, well that’s terrific.’
Previously India had lived her life as Jonathan Willoughby, a regional director at ITV, and had worked in television for many years. After struggling with her conflicting feelings of identity, India can pinpoint the moment when enough was enough, ‘I was doing a live interview when I caught sight of myself in one of the monitors.
‘I was nice and smart in my suit but I knew I couldn’t go on because that person wasn’t me. I went home in tears, absolutely distraught. I bought myself a bottle of wine and drank it.
‘At the end of that night I thought I was going to do myself in. I thought I would rather have a clean death to keep my secret a secret. Fortunately for me I’m a terrible drinker and I fell asleep, which in a way might have saved my life.’
We can’t wait to see India join the other Loose Women panellists!