Keighley Cougars Rugby League club makes history with nomination of India Willoughby as patron

Graham Robson April 17, 2024

Keighley Cougars Rugby League club has announced the appointment of trans activist India Willoughby as their patron, marking a groundbreaking moment as the world’s first transgender individual to serve as patron of a professional sports club.

India, a pioneer in her own right as Britain’s first transgender newsreader and TV journalist, has long been an advocate for trans rights. According to Keighley Cougars, her nomination “aligns perfectly with the ongoing efforts of Kaue and Ryan, owners of the club, to foster a more inclusive sporting environment”.

Ryan said: “With visibility comes understanding, and this appointment reinforces that notion. We need more representation of trans individuals in all spheres to combat the pervasive stigma.”

The 2024 season for Keighley Cougars will be dedicated to promoting Trans Rights Are Human Rights, with India leading the charge. Ryan added: “Keighley Cougars have always been at the forefront of promoting inclusivity and sparking meaningful dialogue. This appointment is another step forward in our positive approach.”

India expressed her gratitude for the opportunity, stating: “I’m thrilled to represent this incredible club that is challenging societal norms. My community has faced unjust scrutiny for too long, and all I aim to do is represent this club to the best of my ability while advocating for understanding and acceptance.”

In addition to the appointment, Keighley Cougars unveiled their special trans-inspired kit, which will be worn by players during their annual Pride fixture on July 7, 2024, against Rochdale Hornets. All profits from the sale of the kit will be donated to trans charity Mermaids, which provides services directly to trans children and young people, families and business to educate and inform professionals and organisations who want to be part of a society where trans children and young people are safe, included and empowered to be their best selves.

Kaue Garcia adds: “Hopefully we will be able to donate thousands of pounds to this amazing charity to promote education and understanding to the trans community. Since 2019, that’s our mission, our motto and our ethos. Making sure we are an inclusive club to all, as everyone deserves to be heard and respected above all.”

The trans-inspired kit can be purchased via the Cougars website in due course.