Denis Staunton London Editor
A Welsh Conservative has become Britain's first openly trans MP, saying he was raped last September and threatened with blackmail as he sought to keep his identity hidden. Jamie Wallis, who won the Welsh seat of Bridgend from Labour in the 2019 general election, won praise from all parties in the House of Commons after he came out in a statement on social media early on Wednesday morning.
“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,” he said.
“I had no intention of ever sharing this with you. I always imagined I would leave politics well before I ever said this out loud. There was a close call in April 2020 when someone blackmailed me, outed me to my father and sent photographs to other family members. He wanted £50,000 to keep quiet. The police were so supportive and on this occasion the system worked.”
Dr Wallis, who said that for the time being he would continue to use the pronouns he/him, praised Conservative whips for the support they offered him in recent months. During prime minister's questions on Wednesday, Boris Johnson praised the Bridgend MP and assured him he had the support of MPs from across the Commons.
“I know that the House stands with you and will give you the support you need to live freely as yourself,” Mr Johnson said.
Dr Wallis said he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following an incident last September when he was raped by a man he had met for a date. He said this was why he fled the scene when he crashed his car two months later.
“I honestly have no idea what I was doing except I was overcome by an overwhelming sense of fear. I am sorry that it appears I ‘ran away’ but this isn’t how it happened in the moment,” he said.
Dr Wallis's statement comes amid a campaign in England against the extension of trans rights which LGBT activists have condemned as a witch hunt resonant of the backlash against gay rights in the 1980s. The Scottish government has introduced legislation to allow people to change their official gender identity by making a legally binding declaration, as in Ireland, without the need for certification by a doctor.
But a move to liberalise the law in England and Wales, initiated under Theresa May's government, has stalled in the face of opposition from the right-wing press. Conservative MPs are divided on the issue but Mr Johnson has recently embraced anti-trans rhetoric in an effort to embarrass Labour leader Keir Starmer, who this week refused to be drawn into a discussion on male and female genitalia.
Hours before Dr Wallis made his statement, the prime minister opened a speech to a dinner for Conservative MPs with a joke mocking the Labour leader’s support for trans rights.
“Good evening ladies and gentleman, or as Keir Starmer would put it, people who are assigned female or male at birth,” he said.