India Willoughby, Britain’s first transgender newsreader, has revealed that she lived a double life for five years during an appearance on Loose Women today.
India, who lived as Johnathan until 2010, joined presenters Coleen Nolen, Janet Street-Porter and June Sarpong on the day time show on Thursday.
The ITV news presenter returned to the air this week six years after she left her post to transition from Johnathan to India.
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India Willoughby appeared on Loose Women on Thursday where she discussed her transition to a woman
During her appearance on the show India, 50, revealed that her moment of clarity came when she reached middle age and she realised she could no longer live a double life.
She said: ‘The moment it actually hit me I was around 40. Its like holding your breath under water and occasionally I would come up for air by going away for the weekend by myself and live my life as a woman.’
In desperate times India, who was scared about losing her friends and family and especially her son attempted to lead a double life.
India is Britain’s first transgender newsreader and until 2010 presented the ITV news as Johnathan Willoughby
Speaking on the show today India says that she lived a ‘split life’ for five years spending weekends away as a woman
‘I decided to have my cake and eat it too.’ she says ‘I would live my life as Johnathan at the weekend in one city and live as the real me in Newcastle during the week. I had two lives in two cities for five years’.
During her appearance on the talk show today India was congratulated on her explanation of what its like to be transgender.
She explained: ‘Growing up only 50 per cent of me actually felt alive.
Ms Willoughby underwent a £14,000 gender reassignment surgery in Brighton last year (pictured)
India lived as Johnathan (pictured left and right) until 2010 and says she was aware of her gender identity from the age of four
After deciding she wanted to return to her ‘dream job’ of broadcasting, she rejoined ITV Border last month in a freelance role
‘It’s a complex subject but essentially the science bit is that the template of the embryo is female that then goes through washing process.
‘But for transgender people it’s like the washing machine doesn’t quite fill up which causes disparity in the brain.’
India explained that for her this disparity began at a young age and her behaviour was picked up by those around her.
She said: ‘I knew something wasn’t right when I was about three or four but I didn’t know it was gender.
India says that her son was extremely supportive of her decision and said it ‘changed nothing’
‘My grandma caught me playing with a lipstick. She didn’t tell me off in a nasty way but more pointed out rules pink and blue.’
During the segment on the show India is shown a VT of herself presenting the news as Johnathan which she admits is a difficult watch.
Despite her initial fears India says that her son, now 17, was extremely understanding when she told him the news.
She explained: ‘I told him last year. I found it hard to articulate it so I had to write it down. I sat on a park bench and he came over and said “it changes nothing”‘.
Viewers took to Twitter following the show suggesting that India was enlisted as a panelist
India ended her appearance on the show by issuing advice to those going through the same journey.
She said: ‘I think in this day and age there’s nothing weird about it’s just a characteristic like having freckles. A lot of people think these things are a whim but it’s a real thing.’
Following her appearance on the show this morning India was showered with praise from viewers who took to Twitter calling for her to join the panel show permanently.
Electric Zoo commented: ‘How amazing is @IndiaWilloughby ? She NEEDS to be made a member of the loose women oanel! Such a fascinating story!’
Everyone was in high praise of India describing her as an ‘inspirational’ woman
User going with the flow tweeted: ‘make India a permanent loose woman! Fabulously at ease woman to watch! True acceptance then by loose women!’
India made her transition permanent last September and had a £14,000 operation in Brighton.
After deciding she wanted to return to her ‘dream job’ of broadcasting, she rejoined ITV Border last month in a freelance role.
Speaking of her return this week she said: ‘ITV have been fantastic, it hasn’t been weird or awkward and they have just welcomed me back.
‘I didn’t feel nervous at all when I walked back through the door again, they made me feel like I was home.
‘I am just getting my toes back into the water for now, I have a lot to catch up on from over the last 10 years and all of the technology has changed massively.
‘There are obviously a lot of new faces but I can still have the same banter with the old ones – they have realised that I am the still the same person, I just look different on the outside.
‘I don’t think that there have been people like me in the public eye in this country before – I wouldn’t want to make myself out to be some kind of an example or anything but it just shows how the nature of TV has changed for the better.
‘I don’t think that I would have been accepted a few years ago.’