Trans contestant faces criticism on Celebrity Big Brother UK

Trans contestant India Willoughby and gender fluid contestant Courtney Act/Shane Jenek. File photo.

Trans news broadcaster and Celebrity Big Brother: UK Edition, India Willoughby received criticism after claiming to have a phobia of drag queens on the show – even though photos surfaced on social media of her at Pride events alongside drag performers. 

India Willoughby with member of Haus of Dench drag troupe. Twitter photo.

Courtney Act, former contestant on RuPaul's Drag Race and front runner to win Big Brother said that they didn't take offense to Willoughby's comments. “She’s alright with me because we’ve had a talk. When I first came in she said she felt uncomfortable… I think the thing she struggled with is that people might see me and see her and think that we are the same thing."

Act, whose name out of drag is Shane Jenek identifies as gender fluid and uses she/her pronouns when in drag.

Jenek said that Willoughby feared being compared to a drag performer. “She’d never identified as a drag queen. Drag is more performance-based, hers is about gender identity. She was never a ‘man’ but she had a male body."

Jenek added, "The process normally for somebody like [Willoughby] is that you’d start wearing women’s clothes and then you’d go to the doctor and get hormones. I feel very comfortable with my body; I’m a man. But if gender is a spectrum from man to woman, I feel like I’m more in the middle but on the male side. And she is a radical conformist when it comes to gender. She is as close to womanhood in her mind as one can get.”

Willoughby later confirmed this by relating it back to her experience as a trans woman. "I’ve got something called gender dysphoria, which you can only resolve with medical attention. Someone coming in dressed that way, freaks me out.”

Prior to Jenek's appearance on the show, Willoughby had already received criticism for having prejudiced views of nonbinary identities.

She claimed that she believed that gender fluid people “cheapen” the experience of transgender people.

“For people like me, it’s not a part-time thing and not a choice”, Willoughby said.

“That word ‘transgender’ can mean anything from RuPaul to someone who’s Bob one day and Barbara another day, and I think that cheapens the seriousness of it”.

Willoughby then compared drag to blackface, adding: “Transexual people have suffered over the years, a lot of laughter. Probably like the old days when the black-and-white minstrels put on a show… Obviously, black people would find that offensive.”

The comments sparked outrage among her fellow housemates.

She was also criticized as photos taken from her Twitter account showed that she had socialized with drag queens in the past.

The photos, which were taken at Harrogate Pride with some drag queens from the collective Haus of Dench, also contradicted Willoughby’s claims that she had never been to a Pride event.

Information was gathered from this article.
The Gayly 1/10/2018 @ 12:39 p.m. CST