LONDON (AP) — A lawmaker from Britain’s governing Conservative Party has been praised across the political spectrum for coming out as transgender, the first U.K. member of Parliament ever to do so.
Jamie Wallis said Wednesday that “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, 37, said in an online statement.
“I have never lived my truth and I’m not sure how,” added Wallis, who said he would continue to use the pronouns he and him for now. “Perhaps it starts with telling everyone.”
Wallis, who represents the Welsh constituency of Bridgend in the House of Commons, revealed he was subjected to a blackmail attempt in 2020, and that the perpetrator was jailed. He also said he was suffering from post-traumatic stress after being raped in 2021.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson began his weekly question session in the House of Commons by telling Wallis: “The House stands with you and will give you the support that you need to live freely as yourself.” That support was echoed by other politicians, including opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer.
Former Treasury chief George Osborne said the reaction to Wallis’s “brave” statement reflected progress in the Conservative Party.
“If a Tory MP had said this when I was first elected 20 years ago they would have been hounded, not applauded and supported,” Osborne said on Twitter.
Despite the widespread support for Wallis, British politicians are divided over trans issues and how to balance rights based on gender identity with those based on biological sex.
Johnson said in Parliament last week that people seeking to transition “should be treated with the maximum possible generosity and respect.” But he added that “when it comes to distinguishing between man and woman, the basic facts of biology remain overwhelmingly important.”
Johnson’s government has resisted recommendations from lawmakers to make it easier for people to change their gender by removing the requirement to have a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria first.
Conservatives also have used trans issues as a “culture war” talking point to needle left-wing opponents.
According to multiple media reports Johnson opened a party for Conservative lawmakers on Tuesday night by saying: “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, or as Keir Starmer would put it, people who are assigned female or male at birth.”
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