PM Boris Johnson and MPs from all sides state their support after MP Jamie Wallis openly declares being transgender.
Conservative member of parliament Jamie Wallis has became the first British legislator to openly declare they were transgender, prompting messages of support from colleagues and Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The MP’s announcement came on Wednesday against a backdrop of an often toxic debate about transgender rights and gender identity in British politics and wider society.
“I’m trans. Or to be more accurate, I want to be. I’ve been diagnosed with gender dysphoria and I’ve felt this way since I was a very young child,” Wallis wrote in his statement.
“I had no intention of ever sharing this with you,” said the 37-year-old legislator, who represents the south Wales seat of Bridgend and Porthcawl. “I always imagined I would leave politics well before I ever said this out loud.”
Johnson praised Wallis for the disclosure, saying it “would have taken an immense amount of courage” and in doing so would help others.
“The Conservative Party I lead will always give you, and everyone else, the love and support you need to be yourself.”
Sharing this very intimate story would have taken an immense amount of courage. Thank you @JamieWallisMP for your bravery, which will undoubtedly support others.
The Conservative Party I lead will always give you, and everyone else, the love and support you need to be yourself. https://t.co/Y7VjQOMgkO
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) March 30, 2022
Members of parliament from all sides also stated their support.
Wallis decided to speak out after a meeting of all Conservative MPs on Tuesday night. But the Independent newspaper said Johnson welcomed his colleagues with a quip about the transgender debate that has notably gripped the main opposition Labour party.
The British leader was reported as saying: “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, or as (Labour leader) Keir Starmer would put it, people who are assigned female or male at birth.”
Johnson last week waded into the debate during a question-and-answer session in parliament, insisting biology should be a key factor in identity.
“I think that when it comes to distinguishing between a man and a woman that basic facts of biology remain overwhelmingly important,” he said.
Starmer has said “trans women are women”, and backed calls for transgender people to get legal recognition of their gender based on self-declaration, not medical diagnosis.
But that position has led to criticism from feminists about the erasure of women’s rights.
The UK government in 2020 said it did not back allowing people to change gender officially without medical diagnosis.