Conservative Member of Parliament Jamie Wallis has become the first British legislator to openly declare that he was transgender, prompting messages of support from aides and Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
ON WEDNESDAY, the MP’s announcement came against the backdrop of an often toxic debate about transgender rights and gender identity in British politics and broader society.
Wallis wrote in his statement, “I am trans. Or, to be more clear, I want to be. I have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria and have felt this way since I was young.”
“I had no purpose of sharing this with you,” said the 37-year-old legislator, who represents the South Wales seat of Bridgend and Porthcawl. “I always thought I’d leave politics well before saying it aloud.”
Johnson praised Wallis for the revelation, saying it would “require a lot of courage” and would help others.
“The Conservative Party I lead will always give you and everyone else the love and support you need to be yourself.”
MPs from all sides also expressed their support.
Wallis decided to speak after a meeting of all Conservative lawmakers on Tuesday night. But The Independent newspaper said Johnson greeted his allies with a quip about the transgender debate, particularly gripping the main opposition Labor Party.
The British leader was reported as saying: “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, or as (Labour leader) Keir Starmer would say, those who have been assigned either female or male at birth.”
During a question-and-answer session in parliament last week, Johnson participated in a debate, emphasizing biology should be a critical factor in identification.
“I think the fundamentals of biology are critical when distinguishing between a man and a woman,” he said.
Starmer has stated that “trans women are women” and supported calls for transgender people to seek legal mention of their gender based on self-declaration, not a medical diagnosis.
But that position has drawn criticism from feminists about women’s rights abuses.
The UK government said in 2020 that it does not hold back from allowing people to officially change gender without a medical diagnosis.