India Willoughby, a former ITV newsreader, opens up about her gender reassignment surgery
India, 50, completed her transformation last month at an NHS clinic.
She was previously known as Jonathan Willoughby and presented ITV regional news in Carlisle for 10 years.
She says she wanted to come out to viewers and colleagues but was frightened of the repercussions.
She was on the verge of suicide when she quit broadcasting in February 2010. She said to the Sunday People: “There were many occasions towards the end of my time ITV that I thought, ‘I just can’t carry on going in as Jonathan’.
“I quit my job at ITV, changed my name by deed poll and began applying for new jobs elsewhere. I was called for an interview at a PR firm and I knew this was my chance,” she said.
“I wore a skirt suit and a little make-up. They offered me the job and my double life began.”
Ms Willoughby spent the next five years ‘flip-flopping between genders’ as she worked as a woman during the week and then returned as a man to see her son.
“It was like being undercover. But I was losing my identity. I couldn’t be male, that was pretence from the off, but I couldn’t be fully female either. After three years, I went to my doctor.”
This visit to her GP led to her beginning a secret two-year sex change procedure.
In July, she broke the news to her son and he accepted her.
In October, she took the final step by undergoing gender reassignment surgery at an NHS clinic in Brighton.
India said of the surgery: “When I woke up I felt fantastic.”
And she has advice to offer others in her situation:
“The climate has changed and I’d like to get back into the media in some capacity. I don’t see any reason why someone like me can’t have that sort of job.
“If you know you’re trans, be true to yourself. Grab life and make the most of it.”
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