A Conservative MP has come out as transgender, the first member of the U.K. parliament to do so.
Jamie Wallis, the MP for Bridgend in Wales since 2019, said in a statement posted online: “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.”
The MP added: “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.”
Wallis thanked the party for the support it has offered. “I have never lived my truth and I’m not sure how. Perhaps it starts with telling everyone,” the MP said.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed his colleague’s “courage” and pledged: “The Conservative Party I lead will always give you, and everyone else, the love and support you need to be yourself.”
However, Wallis’s statement comes as Johnson signaled a broader willingness to ramp up his rhetoric on trans rights, which has become a fierce battleground in Britain’s so-called culture wars.
Last week at Prime Minister’s Questions, after acknowledging that “when people want to make a transition in their lives, they should be treated with the maximum possible generosity and respect,” Johnson added: “When it comes to distinguishing between a man and a woman, the basic facts of biology remain overwhelmingly important.”
This phrasing aligns him more closely with the “gender critical” movement in the U.K., which argues that sex is biological and should not be conflated with gender identity. Gender critical campaigners tend to the view that trans women should be excluded or restricted in women-only spaces.
Johnson brought up the topic again at a Conservative Party dinner on Tuesday night, beginning his speech with the opening line: “Good evening ladies and gentleman, or as Keir Starmer would put it, people who are assigned female or male at birth.”
Labour leader Starmer has faced accusations of equivocation on the issue of trans rights as politicians across the spectrum are asked to take a position.
The prime minister’s words have raised expectations that the Conservatives see attacking Labour’s confusion over trans rights as a vote-winner, but Wallis’ story complicates the picture as all parties grapple with divisions on the question.