Tia Latham, 29, said she was “treated like a freak show” by ITV and left without adequate support as she battled online abuse and public attacks.
She became so depressed that she attempted to end her life on Boxing Day and was subsequently hospitalised. But she says ITV bosses ignored her pleas for support and didn’t offer therapy until she had endured a second attack.
Latham told PinkNews that she and a fellow trans model, Talulah Eve, were threatened by a man with a gun who threw a corrosive substance over their skin.
“The man said he had seen me on ITV and that we were ‘freaks’ and ‘going to hell’,” she said. “[It] really shook me up because clearly my life had become in danger since being on TV.”
Latham believes she was misrepresented by the reality show, noting that a scene where she kissed a male housemate was deliberately left out of the final cut. She claims ITV included “nothing that would show viewers that trans/intersexed people are ‘normal human beings’ and live their lives just like everyone else”.
She condemned the broadcaster for not helping her to deal with the aftermath of this portrayal. “They left me to pick up the pieces. I basically had to beg them for help,” she told The Sun.
The model is now urging TV executives to produce more ethical programmes which will not have such adverse effects on its stars.
— Survival of the Fittest (@ITV2Fittest) February 6, 2018
“Don’t keep doing this to people because you are messing with people’s lives. You are causing people to have mental issues. Stop trying to do this for ratings and money. You can still have great shows without all this drama,” she said in The Times.
ITV said it was “very sorry” to hear about Latham’s “mental health difficulties over Christmas” and vowed to remain in contact and continue to offer support.
A spokesperson said: “ITV have maintained contact with Tia since her appearance on Survival of the Fittest. Following press reports last year about an attack she was subjected to, ITV contacted her and offered support.
“As Tia has confirmed, she has been provided with support, which is ongoing.”
Two other Love Island contestants, Mike Thalassitis and Sophie Gradon, have died by suicide after appearing on the show.
Carolyn McCall, chief executive of ITV, responded to Thalassitis’s death at the time and said that any “direct link” with his appearance on Love Island was “extremely tenuous”.