The UK’s First Trans MP

This morning the UK gained it’s first out trans MP – Jamie Wallis. Quite frankly it’s a burden off my shoulders, as the trans person who got the most votes in the 2019 General Election, and the second most in 2017. I’m sure that the media will find another way to make some trans person “the first” – maybe the first transitioned MP, or the first trans person to be elected an MP, or …

I digress. By making his statement, Wallis outlined very clearly the ghastly trauma that he’s experienced recently and the flaws in his thought that he would be able to park his gender dysphoria until he stopped being an MP. He’s made his statement in the worst environment for trans people that I can remember. More than that, he made his statement after sitting through a so-called joke from the Prime Minister at the dinner he attended the previous evening – a “joke” which was basically saying that trans people are not who we say we are. This came on the back of a statement from Johnson in Prime Minister’s Questions last week saying that biological sex was important – a dog-whistle statement to those opposed to trans inclusion.

Prime Minister – words are cheap, actions are not. You have presided over a Government which has enabled endless debates about trans people, usually without trans people; a Government which has seen a massive growth in waiting lists for health services available to trans people, where it’s now not unusual to wait 3, 4 or 5 years before seeing a specialist for the first time; a Government which has decided it’s more important to hold an international conference than undertake any meaningful legislative reform for trans people. It’s those actions we see, Prime Minister – not your warm words which contradict your “joke” of just 16 hours earlier.

Wallis is clearly not having an easy time. He reports being blackmailed, being raped, then PTSD. He’s accepted that he needs help. At the same time he will find himself at the centre of a media storm when it’s probably hardest to deal with it. On the grounds of basic humanity, I feel for him. We will have radically different stances on many political issues, but he’s a human being and deserving of empathy.

What the media will undoubtedly do, as it does to any “newly announced” trans person with any kind of profile, is try to treat them as a spokesperson for everything trans. Suddenly Wallis will find himself expected to answer for crimes he hasn’t committed, as well as obscure philosophical points presented as gotcha questions. I don’t know how far through his thinking he is, but he should not feel as though he needs to be the spokesperson for trans people – and trans people nor the media should not put him in that position.

However, what he will do, simply by being in the Commons, is make it harder for those opposed to trans inclusion to state their claims in Parliamentary debates.

I was interviewed this evening by LBC News, and I have to say it was probably the most respectful interview I’ve had from a national media organisation for around 3 years. Maybe that is something that Wallis’ statement has already had a clear impact on – although I suspect it won’t last.

What Wallis has done today, intentionally or not, is reinforce the point that trans people are people, not issues.

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