Britain’s first openly transgender MP has spoken about transitioning for the first time, as he said the debate around trans issues had become “toxic”.
Jamie Wallis, the Conservative MP for Bridgend and Porthcawl, said last month that he “wanted to be” transgender and had been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, the medical condition that means patients do not feel their physical sex matches their gender identity.
In an interview with Sky News on Sunday he spoke about how “a part of me died” after he was raped and how police helped him after he was blackmailed.
Mr Wallis, 37, also urged young people dealing with gender issues not to “wait as long as I’ve waited” but said there was “nothing wrong with just taking some time and discovering yourself”.
His public statement revealing that he is transgender came in the wake of reported comments from Boris Johnson at a Conservative Party event, when he joked that Sir Keir Starmer would say “people who are assigned female or male at birth” rather than “ladies and gentlemen ”.
The Prime Minister has also said that he does not think transgender women should be allowed to compete in women’s sports events.
In his interview, Mr Wallis would not be drawn on policy issues that affect transgender people, including the sport issue, as he warned the debate had become “toxic”.
“I think at the moment this debate has become very, very toxic and anybody that tries to say anything will be shouted at by one group or the other,” he said.
“Actually, some of the way in which this debate is unfolding is doing significant damage to a vulnerable group of people – the transgender community.
“Right now, as things stand, I don’t think it would be helpful for me to start commenting on particular nuances.
“I think there is a huge amount of mistrust between the trans community and other groups and the system, and I think this debate is being done in a way that is doing harm to some very vulnerable people.”
‘A part of me died during rape ordeal’
Mr Wallis also described his experience being raped by a man and his desire to campaign for more rape victims to come forward to the police.
“I met someone that I liked and things started off quite well actually,” he said.
“Then I was not okay with not being what I consider to be responsible and practice safety in the bedroom so I withdrew consent and […] then he just decided that he was going to do it anyway.
“I was powerless to stop him and in that moment a part of me died and I have been trying to get it back ever since.”
Mr Wallis still uses male pronouns (he/him) and said he has not yet started the process of transition.
“I would like to begin the process of transitioning and I would like to do that as quickly as possible…but it’s not quick,” he said.
“It’s challenging and difficult and there are lots of hurdles to overcome, and it’s not going to be done overnight.
“It’s going to take many, many years and I think that now I am out and people do know, I am free to start that and actually take that, go on that journey at a pace that I find comfortable.”