Trans TV star India Willoughby is still waiting for apology from BBC for facing ‘abuse’ on Question Time


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Trans television star India Willoughby has said she is still waiting for an apology from the BBC after facing ‘abuse’ on Question Time during an appearance earlier this month.

The former Loose Women panellist, 57, was among the guests on Question Time hosted by Fiona Bruce, where during a debate surrounding trans women prisoners entering female prisons, one audience member received a huge round of applause when she insisted ‘you can’t change sex’.

The person went on to say that trans women who have lived as women for years and undergone gender reassignment surgery should not be allowed in female single-sex spaces.

‘We don’t allow men into female spaces for good reason,’ she said. ‘There are good men and there are predatory men, we should not allow trans into female spaces. There are good trans and there are predatory trans and that’s a fact. Women and children have to be safe.’

Willoughby later compared the situation to facing a ‘lynch mob’, tweeting: ‘Lynch mob. Felt like I was at a hanging! Mine! Trans people are amazing (I know – biased) and it was disappointing to feel that mood in the air. 1970s audience bar a few exceptions! Did my best – love you all.’

India Willoughby held her own against a hostile Question Time crowd (Picture: BBC)

In a new update, which comes after the BBC apologised to Harry Potter author JK Rowling after gamers accused her of transphobia on air, amid ongoing controversy, Willoughby said she ‘feels sick’ at the author has received an apology while she is still waiting.

She wrote: ‘I didn’t get an apology for the abuse I got on BBC Question Time,’ highlighting 200 complaints from the comments made.

Willoughby continued: ‘Despite 200 complaints. JK Rowling is indisputably transphobic. Ask me. Ask the trans community.

‘She gloats about being a terf. This apology makes me feel physically sick.’

JK Rowling

The author has faced a lot of backlash (Picture: Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

After the episode aired, in which Willoughby was joined by Jenny Gilruth, John Lamont, Ian Murray and journalist Ella Whelan, she shared a video with her followers, saying: ‘In a perverse way it’s worked in my favour because the pubic has seen the gender critical movement is all about.

‘I thought it would be a reasoned debate and actually all they’ve got is insults and tormenting people bullying people.

‘I’m not going to be bullied and I know the rest of the trans community are not going to be bullied – we’ve done nothing wrong.’

Willoughby added that she was ‘really disappointed’ in the Labour representative Murray for just ‘sitting back and allowing it to happen’.

Willoughby compared it to a ‘lynch mob’ (Picture: BBC)
One audience member said women and children need protection from trans women in female spaces (Picture: BBC)

‘I can’t imagine any other minority being talked about in that way and everyone just sitting back and letting it take place,’ she said.

The discussion had also seen Scottish Conservative Party MP Lamont receive claps for saying the government didn’t feel as though ‘necessary safeguards’ were in place to block trans women from entering female prisons.

Whelan also got actual cheers when she said: ‘It’s remarkable to me that politicians in Scotland and England have given up the belief in reality that sex is real and that it is irrefutable.’

The BBC later addressed complaints, insisting its panel and audience featured people from ‘across the political spectrum’.

Willoughby was showered with support online (Picture: David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock)

In a statement on its complaints board, the BBC said: ‘The aim was to have a civilised and polite conversation, while also recognising that this is a highly sensitive issue with concerns being expressed on all sides of the debate. 

‘We heard prominent contributions from the Scottish government representative around support for their legislative proposals on gender reform and from India Willoughby – who as we indicated in our introduction is a trans rights campaigner. 

‘Fiona Bruce treated all members of the panel fairly and intervened when necessary to keep the discussion on track.  All panellists were given ample time to voice their opinions.  We also heard a wide range of viewpoints from the audience during this particular debate.’

Willoughby was defended by viewers following the episode with people praising her resilience in the face of a particularly hostile crowd, including singer Boy George, who tweeted: ‘So proud of India Willoughby on Question Time tonight.’

Question Time airs Thursdays from 8pm on BBC iPlayer and 10.35pm on BBC One.

Need support?

Mermaids is able to help trans people up to their 19th birthday.

Their helpline is open Monday to Friday, from 9am to 9pm: 0808 801 0400.

You can also text ‘Mermaids’ to 85258 for free 24/7 crisis support all across the UK or make use of their web chat, which is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 9pm.

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