UK

Trans MP wants to transition ‘as quickly as possible’ as he opens up about rape and blackmail plot

Josh Milton April 24, 2022
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Jamie Wallis during a television interview

Jamie Wallis, a Conservative lawmaker, has opened up about being trans. (Screen capture via Sky News)

Britain’s first openly trans MP Jamie Wallis has said he hopes to transition “as quickly as possible” – but knows the wait will be long.

Wallis, the Conservative MP for Bridgend in Wales, last month became the first lawmaker sitting in the House of Commons to come out as trans.

The 37-year-old’s journey has been “challenging and difficult”, he recounted on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday, but one met with an “incredible amount of support”.

He has come far, he said, recounting a time when he felt lonely as a child struggling with his gender identity. Wallis added that he will continue to use he/him pronouns.

But in a blunt reminder of just how bogged down Britain’s trans healthcare system is, Wallis acknowledged that there will be “a lot of hurdles” when transitioning.

“It’s not going to be done overnight,” he said, “it’s going to take many, many years.”

Times have changed, however, Wallis said.

“I was eight years old when I was trying to work out what this was,” he explained, “because there wasn’t the ready access to the internet and there wasn’t anyone else in my community at home that felt like this or that I knew about.

“So I had absolutely no idea what it was and I remember being eight and trying to work out whether this was something that affected just me or whether there were other people that might feel like this.

“I came to the wrong conclusion. At the time I thought that it was just me and maybe there was some sort of horrible mistake or something had gone very wrong.”

Trans Tory MP Jamie Wallis felt ‘powerless’ during sexual assault

Wallis came out in March through a sincere social media statement that described his journey to coming out, one deepened by his experiences of being raped and blackmailed. Both continue to haunt him.

“I met someone that I lied and things started off quite well,” Wallis said. “Then I was not okay with not being what I consider to be responsible and safe practice in the bedroom.”

Wallis said he felt almost “powerless” as the man brazenly ignored that he withdrew consent. The man refused to wear a condom.

“In that moment a part of me died and I have been trying to get it back ever since,” Wallis said.

“I tried to forget about it for a few weeks and it almost worked, almost worked but then you start getting nightmares, flashbacks, it starts occupying every one of your thoughts and you find yourself just staring off into the distance because you’re thinking about it again and that’s when I chose to get some help.

“Like I said in my statement, I’m not okay, I’m not the person I was before that happened but I am at least in a place where I can get on with my life whilst I am dealing with it.”

Wallis said alarms were raised for him when a “shocking number” of people reached out to him to say “something similar has happened to them”.

“That has changed my whole thinking and has made me become very concerned about the potential for this to be a much more pervasive issue than I think a lot of people currently think it is,” he said.

Wallis revealed that in April 2020 a blackmail plot threw his life into jeopardy.

After sending photographs to his family members and outing him to his father, the person demanded £50,000 or else they would out Wallis to the world. The person was later convicted

For Wallis, the experience tossed him into a “very dark place”, but he praised the “fantastic” police

“Not only did they take it seriously but they got a successful outcome,” he said of the two year and nine-month sentence for the culprit. “So the [Crown Prosecution System], the police, were really good.”

To young trans people, whose “life-saving” healthcare has faced fire from both “gender critical” groups and the Tory government, Wallis had simple advice.

“I wouldn’t wait as long as I’ve waited, I’m 37 – maybe you can move a little bit quicker than that – but actually there’s absolutely nothing wrong with just taking some time and discovering yourself and don’t feel rushed to pick up a label or view it in any way,” he said.

Britain’s Conservative MP Jamie Wallis. (JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

“But when you know who you are and you are ready and you want to tell the world and assert that, there are people like myself here that are waiting and we’re welcoming, we’re friendly and we’re here to help and support.”

The wait for Wallis to access gender-affirming healthcare, like for so many trans people in Britain, will be long. Trans healthcare for adults in England and Wales is provided by seven NHS Gender Identity Clinics.

At a single clinic, London’s Tavistock and Portman, more than 10,600 trans and non-binary people are waiting for a first appointment, according to NHS data. Of them, only 62 people who were referred in 2017 were finally offered one.

In some parts of Britain, the wait for a first appointment is as long as five years, trans health group GenderGP found. A referral from a GP is even difficult for some, given that 14 per cent of trans people say their GP refused their care because they were trans, per TransActual’s Trans Lives Survey 2021.

But winding waiting lists are not the only barrier, a report found in March. A lack of training among NHS professionals and data systems that seemingly make trans patients “invisible” was identified as just some of the issues by the London Assembly Health Committee.

“No matter what they may say or what might happen and no matter who those people are, you can’t live your life for them,” Wallis added.

“About a year ago, maybe about seven or eight months ago actually, I woke up one day and I realised actually I am no longer ashamed of this.”

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