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Jamie Wallis becomes U.K.’s first transgender MP

Prime minister among those who applauded lawmaker

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Jamie Wallis (Photo Credit: UK Government)

Jamie Wallis made history Wednesday, becoming the first member of the British Parliament to come out as transgender. 

Wallis, a conservative representing Bridgend, Wales, released a statement announcing: “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,” Wallis, who will continue to use he/him/his pronouns, added. 

The 37-year-old legislator confessed he “had no intention of ever sharing this,” imagining he “would leave politics well before I ever said this out loud.” He “arrogantly assumed” he could be an MP and hid his identity until it became too much for him. 

The announcement was praised by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other politicians, commending Wallis for his bravery. 

“Sharing this very intimate story would have taken an immense amount of courage. Thank you [Jamie Wallis] for your bravery, which will undoubtedly support others,” Johnson tweeted. “The Conservative Party I lead will always give you, and everyone else, the love and support you need to be yourself.”

Hours before Wallis’ statement, Johnson made a “light-hearted joke” about trans people during a Tuesday night dinner among Tory MPs, BBC News reported.

“Good evening ladies and gentleman — or as Keir Starmer would put it, people who are assigned female or male at birth,” Johnson said, referring to Starmer’s decision not to answer whether a woman can have a penis.

In his statement, Wallis detailed a “close call” in 2020 where he said someone “blackmailed me, outed me to my father and sent photographs to other family members.” According to Wallis, that person wanted £50,000 ($65,650) to keep quiet, but the perpetrator later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years and nine months in prison.

“The police were so supportive, so understanding and on this occasion the system worked,” Wallis said. 

Wallis also said he was raped months ago after refusing to have sex with someone he met online who wouldn’t wear a condom.

“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,” he said. 

“Since then things have really taken a tumble. I am not ok,” Wallis said. 

Wallis also crashed his car last November, he said, and fled the scene “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,” he said. 

But Wallis was “reminded of the incredible support those you work with can provide” at the dinner where Johnson reportedly made the joke. “Also, I was reminded how important it is to be yourself,” he added.

The Guardian reported that the prime minister was urged to apologize for his remarks. 

“Actions speak louder than words,” said Ben Howlett, a former Conservative MP and chair of an independent LGBTQ commission. “Making a joke at the expense of trans people in private then saying that he supports trans people on social media raises more than an eyebrow. It needs to be called out and he should apologize.”

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United Kingdom

British prime minister backs transgender athletes ban

Boris Johnson made comments during Commonwealth meeting in Rwanda

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Photo by shganti777 via Bigstock)

During a break between sessions during the first summit meeting of the Commonwealth nations since the coronavirus pandemic in the Rwandan capital this past weekend, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was asked by a reporter about the FINA ban on transgender women athletes.

The prime minster’s response was that there were “particular problems” around “issues of gender.”

“Look it’s very, very important that as a society we should be as understanding of everybody else as possible. I’ve always stood for that. When it comes to, when you start to move from issues of sexuality to issues of gender, you start to raise particular problems,” Johnson told reporters.

In a follow-up question the prime minster was also asked whether women can be born with a penis, he replied: “Not without being a man.”

“I think I’ve spoken of three concerns I’ve had in the past. They are to do with the age at which you can deem it competent to transition, the question of safe spaces for women, and the difficulties you have with sporting competitions,” Johnson continued.

“These are all very difficult problems and you have to be very sensitive. But these are the areas.”

Pressed on whether he backed the swimming ban, Johnson said: “I haven’t studied it in detail but I see no reason to dissent. That follows from what I’ve previously said.”

British Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Nadine Dorries in a column published this past weekend by the Mail on Sunday wrote:

“I have the greatest compassion for anyone who finds themselves living in a body they don’t recognize. But we can’t pretend that sex doesn’t matter. Sex has biological consequences. If you’re born a male, and you go through puberty as a male, your body develops natural physical advantages over a woman’s. That makes you stronger and faster.

I’m setting a very clear line on this: competitive women’s sport must be reserved for people born of the female sex. Not someone who was born male, took puberty blockers or has suppressed testosterone, but unequivocally and unarguably someone who was born female. I want all of our sporting governing bodies to follow that policy.”

The Guardian UK noted that Dorries, said she will make it “crystal clear” to British sporting bodies that competitive women’s sport must be reserved for people born of the female sex when she meets them on Tuesday to discuss their trans policies.

Dorries will urge organizations representing football, cricket, rugby, tennis, athletics and other sports to follow the lead of FINA, the governing body of swimming, by barring from female events trans women who have “gone through male puberty.”

PinkNewsUK reported Monday that since FINA announced its revised trans eligibility policy, several national and international sporting administrators have followed.

The International Rugby LeagueFIFA and World Athletics, among others, have either temporarily banned or launched reviews into their trans inclusion policies.

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United Kingdom

British prime minister panned as ‘disgrace’ in response to Pride message

Government cancelled conference after rights groups announced boycott

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Screenshot from YouTube/Twitter)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson released a video message on his official Twitter and YouTube platforms celebrating Pride Month in the U.K. Tuesday under the social hashtag of #WhyPridematters.

The prime minister said that he was “proud” at how many LGBTQ and intersex people have sought asylum in the U.K. from Afghanistan after the Taliban regained control of the country. However, within literal minutes he was promptly criticized and in the Twitter pushback was told by one user: “You’re an absolute disgrace.”

Another chimed in saying his remarks were hollow.

Johnson’s Tory-led government seemingly has been more indifferent to Britain’s LGBTQ and intersex community — transgender people in particular — according to activists and the largest LGBTQ and intersex advocacy group, Stonewall UK.

Last Spring, in early April, Bloomberg reported more than 80 organizations pulled out of the British government’s international LGBTQ and intersex conference due to be held in June after Johnson dropped a plan to ban so-called conversion therapy for trans people.

One of Johnson’s top ministers, Liz Truss, was accused of using LGBTQ and intersex rights to ‘rile up her right-wing support base’ PinkNewsUK reported.

As minister for women and equalities, Truss scrapped much-needed reform to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) despite reams of evidence showing there was strong public support for changes that would make accessing legal gender recognition easier for the trans community.

She has also been criticized for her appointments to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, and her defenses of “gender critical” views.

There has also been outcry by LGBTQ and intersex advocacy groups and activists over the government’s willingness to deport LGBTQ and intersex and other asylum seekers on one-way flights to Rwanda. That decision has been criticized by queer and trans advocates as “hugely concerning” and “potentially life-threatening.”

Canadian LGBTQ and intersex news outlet Xtra reported that queer and trans asylum seekers in the U.K. already face inhospitable conditions. Sebastian Rocca, founder of charity Micro Rainbow, which provides safe housing to LGBTQ and intersex asylum seekers and refugees in the U.K., tells Xtra in a statement: “One of the most common reasons for the Home Office to refuse asylum to LGBTQI+ people in the U.K. is because they do not believe they are LGBTQI+,” adding that the policy has “potentially life-threatening consequences.” 

The “single young men” framing of the policy means any gay or bisexual men, transmasculine people or transfeminine people — including those seeking asylum in the U.K. for their sexual orientation or gender identity — could potentially be deported to a country with a long history of human rights violations.

In Tuesday’s message the prime minister referred specifically to Afghan LGBTQ and intersex people fleeing the notoriously intolerant Taliban which regained control of the country after the Biden administration pulled the remaining armed forces out of the war-torn country last summer after nearly 21 years of conflict.

“LGBT Afghans coming to this country because we’re a place that is welcoming and understands that type of intolerance is simply unacceptable in this country,” Johnson said.

Johnson added: “I’m proud above all that the U.K. is a country where you can be however you want to be and you can love whomever you choose to love no matter who you are or where you come from or what your background is.

“So it’s great to see Afghans coming to this country with that knowledge and seeing our country as a beacon of hope.

“That’s why Pride Month matters so much. And I hope you have a great Pride.”

Twitter was less than impressed:

Why Pride matters | Prime Minister Boris Johnson:

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United Kingdom

London mayor criticizes city’s police for ‘systemic’ homophobia

Former Met Commissioner Cressida Dick resigned in February

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(Screenshot of Channel 4 News UK)

Appearing on a Sunday morning talk show on the BBC, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said that the public was “losing trust and confidence” in the Metropolitan Police force. Khan harshly condemned the current environment which had led to the departure of former Met Commissioner Cressida Dick.

PinkNewsUK had reported in April that Dick had stepped down from the post in February after a damning report from England’s police watchdog exposed a troubling pattern of homophobia and bullying within the Met

The report also detailed how homophobic, racist, misogynist and violent comments made by officers were dismissed as “laddish banter.”

She said she initially had “no intention” of stepping down after the scandal despite the fact she had been placed “on notice” by Khan. But Dick changed her mind and admitted in a statement that Khan’s skepticism in her ability to lead the force left her “no choice” but to resign early.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams with London Mayor Sadiq Khan on May 9, 2022, in New York (Screenshot NY1)

Speaking to the BBC, the mayor noted:

“It’s possible to recognize the dedicated, decent, brave officers we have in the police service but to also say we’ve got real problems — real problems that have been shown recently in relation to evidence of overt systemic sexism, racism, homophobia, discrimination, misogyny — which need to be addressed.”

He added that it was important that the new commissioner — who will be appointed by the British Home Secretary Priti Patel — takes steps to “address those challenges.” He believed the new commissioner would also need to “win back the trust and confidence of too many Londoners that has been lost.” 

“One of the reasons why I lost confidence in the previous commissioner was my lack of confidence in her plans to address the two big issues — addressing the systemic racism, sexism, homophobia and misogyny, but also the trust and confidence required from our public when you police by consent,” Khan said.

Deputy Commissioner Stephen House has been temporarily serving as acting commissioner as the recruitment process continues, PinkNewsUK reported.

According to the Guardian, the process has been whittled down to the final two candidates: Mark Rowley, a former head of counter-terrorism, or Nick Ephgrave, currently part of Met’s top leadership. 

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