A Conservative MP has come out as trans and revealed he was a victim of rape and blackmail in a highly-personal statement posted on Twitter.
Bridgend MP Jamie Wallis revealed details of a £50,000 blackmail plot and described being raped by a man in September last year, adding: “I am not ok."
Wallis said in a statement: "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 young child.
“I always imagined I would leave politics well before I ever said this out loud."
The statement was posted on Wallis’ website and on Twitter, where it simply said: “It’s time”.
Wallis revealed the news was almost leaked in April 2020 when someone tried to blackmail him for £50,000 to keep it from being made public.
The MP – who has since confirmed he was still using he/him pronouns – said the blackmailer told his father and sent photographs to other family members.
However, the blackmailer pled guilty and was sentenced to two years and nine months in prison.
“For a while it seemed as though I would be able to get on with things and move on,” the statement said.
“Being an MP and hiding something like this was always going to be tough, but I arrogantly assumed I was up for it. Well, I’m not.”
Wallis wrote: "A few months back, in September, I 'hooked up' with someone who I met online and when I chose to say 'no' on the basis that he wouldn't wear a condom he chose to rape me."
He continued: “I have not been myself since this incident and I don’t think I will ever recover. It is not something you ever forget, and it is not something you ever move on from.”
Wallis also addressed being arrested on suspicion of driving while unfit after colliding into a lamp post on 28 November, writing in the statement: "I fled the scene. I did so because I was terrified.
"I have PTSD [post traumatic stress disorder] and 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."
The statement concluded: “Tonight, I was reminded of the incredible support those you work with can provide.
“Also, I was reminded how important it is to be yourself. I have never lived my truth and I’m not sure how. Perhaps it starts with telling everyone.”
Wallis said he was "overwhelmed by the kindness and support I have received in the last few hours" and was "proud to be completely open and honest about the struggles I have had, and continue to have, with my identity".
Confirming his pronouns, Wallis added: "I remain the same person I was yesterday. For the time being, I will continue to present as I always have and will use he/him/his pronouns."
Wallis arrived in the Commons on Wednesday to cheers from all sides of the house, while several MPs paid tribute to him before questions to ministers.
Equalities minister Mike Freer started business in the House of Commons by acknowledging the “enormously personal” statement by Wallis, telling MPs: “I hope I speak for the whole House in sending our support.
“It is so important that people are free and safe to be themselves, whoever they are and whoever they love.”
Other MPs echoed their support for Wallis during women and equalities questions.
Speaking at the start of PMQs, Boris Johnson said: “The whole House will have read the statement from (Jamie Wallis) and I know the House stands with you and we’ll give you the support that you need to live freely as yourself.”
The personal statement came following a night out for Tory MPs, at which “I was reminded of the incredible support those you work with can provide”.
“I’ve had a lot of support from the Whips since I was elected,” the MP said.
Conservative MPs had gathered at the Park Plaza hotel in London, just across Westminster Bridge from the House of Commons.
At the dinner, Johnson reportedly said: “Good evening ladies and gentleman, or as Keir Starmer would put it, people who are assigned female or male at birth.”
The row over trans rights has been a key battle in so-called culture wars between the parties.
Johnson responded to Wallis’s statement by saying: “Sharing this very intimate story would have taken an immense amount of courage.”
He said the story would “undoubtedly support others” and “the Conservative Party I lead will always give you, and everyone else, the love and support you need to be yourself”.
Fellow Tory MPs showed their support for Wallis, with former whip Mike Fabricant saying it was “a very brave statement”.
Tory party chairman Oliver Dowden said he was "proud" of his colleague.
He added: “As a Conservative family we stand together, and we will support you.
“I hope that your brave statement will help others.”
Foreign secretary Liz Truss said that Wallis had made a "brave statement", adding that others "stand with you", while shadow foreign secretary David Lammy tweeted: "This sends a powerful message to the whole of the Commons and the whole of the country
Tory MP Alicia Kearns said: “You have changed this country today Your bravery will give hope and courage to people across our country.
“From the trans community, to survivors we all here for you, as you live your life as your true self, but ever as our friend.”
The Tory Reform Group (TRG) tweeted: "A very brave statement from Jamie Wallis. All of us at the TRG stand with you and support you all the way.
"We commend you for speaking up. You have made history today in the UK and thank you for helping our politics and party take this major step forward."
Former MP and chancellor George Osborne said “we comment on the things that have got worse in politics, but many things have got better”, tweeting that “if a Tory MP had said this when I was first elected 20 years ago they would have been hounded not applauded and supported”.
Wallis became the first Tory MP to be elected in Bridgend since 1983, after unseating Labour's Madeleine Moon in the 2019 general election.
Yesterday the parliamentary party had a photo in the chamber and then we went for dinner together. It was nice, especially for those of us in the ‘2019 intake’ of MPs who haven’t done anything like that before.
It was lovely to speak to colleagues away from Parliament, and I appreciated the occasion for a number of reasons.
I’ve had a lot of support from the Whips since I was elected. Not for the reasons you might think, but there’s a lot that goes on in MPs lives and the Whips play an important wellbeing role – as far as I’ve seen they try their best to support and help MPs who are having a tough time. Well they’ve certainly earned their keep with me.
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. 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, so understanding and on this occasion the system worked. He pled guilty and was sentenced to 2yrs and 9mnths in prison.
For a while it seemed as though I would be able to get on with things and move on. Being an MP and hiding something like this was always going to be tough, but I arrogantly assumed I was up for it.
Well, I’m not.
A few months back, in September, I “hooked up” with someone who I met online and when I chose to say ‘no’ on the basis that he wouldn’t wear a condom he chose to rape me. I have not been myself since this incident and I don’t think I will ever recover. It is not something you ever forget, and it is not something you ever move on from.
Since then things have really taken a tumble. I am not ok.
When I crashed my car on the 28th November I fled the scene. I did so because I was terrified. I have PTSD and 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.
Tonight, I was reminded of the incredible support those you work with can provide. Also, I was reminded how important it is to be yourself. I have never lived my truth and I’m not sure how. Perhaps it starts with telling everyone.