Tories Defend Boris Johnson Over Trans Joke, Saying He’s ‘Warm And Affectionate’

Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the Tories were "incredibly proud" after Jamie Wallis MP came out as trans.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan said she believed the PM wanted to support Wallis after he came out as trans.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan said she believed the PM wanted to support Wallis after he came out as trans.
Sky News

A Cabinet minister has defended Boris Johnson’s “insensitive” joke about trans rights after one of his own MPs revealed he had gender dysphoria.

Jamie Wallis, the MP for Bridgend in Wales, revealed he was transgender on Wednesday and explained how he had been raped by a man he met online.

International trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the Tories were “incredibly proud” of Wallis for his “brave” decision to come out as trans.

But the prime minister is under fire after it emerged just hours before Wallis’ announcement, Johnson had begun a speech at a dinner for the parliamentary party with a joke about language used by Labour leader Keir Starmer.

Johnson is alleged to have greeted guests with: “Good evening ladies and gentleman. Or, as Keir Starmer would put it, people who are assigned female or male at birth.”

Asked whether the prime minister had been “insensitive” with the joke, Trevelyan said Johnson had a “very, very warm and affectionate personality”.

She told Sky News: “You know, jokes made at dinners are made, I think… all of us who know the prime minister know he has a very, very warm and affectionate personality and I think he is genuinely, you know, proud and affectionate and wants to support Jamie in his decision to share with the world his choice to present himself as trans.

“And I think, I mean, he’s a lovely young man and we are hugely, hugely proud of him.

“I think, you know, this continuing discussion is so important, but it’s also important that actually at the end of the day we respect and love each other as how we want to live our lives and I think that’s always what the prime minister wants to try and achieve.”

Wallis is now the UK’s first openly trans MP.

In a Tweet on Wednesday, he wrote: “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.”

Shortly after writing the post, Wallis received an outpouring of support from MPs from across the political divide, including Johnson, who said: “Sharing this very intimate story would have taken an immense amount of courage.”

The Tory Reform Group criticised Johnson’s use of language, saying: “Trans lives are difficult and complex, they should not be ridiculed in flippant after dinner jokes.”

Wallis went on to reveal an ordeal in which he was blackmailed in April 2020 when someone “outed me” to his father and sent photographs to other relatives, asking for £50,000 in exchange for silence.

The MP said that this person was arrested, pleaded guilty and sentenced to two years and nine months in prison.

He also explained how he was raped by a man he “hooked up” after he refused to have sex without a condom.

Wallis revealed that that he fled the scene after crashing his car on November 28 last year “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.

“I am sorry that it appears I ‘ran away’ but this isn’t how it happened in the moment.”

In a later post, Wallis confirmed that he will continue using he/him pronouns for now because “I remain the same person I was yesterday”.

Help and support:

  • Rape Crisis services for women and girls who have been raped or have experienced sexual violence - 0808 802 9999
  • Survivors UK offers support for men and boys - 0203 598 3898
  • The Gender Trust supports anyone affected by gender identity | 01527 894 838
  • Mermaids offers information, support, friendship and shared experiences for young people with gender identity issues | 0208 1234819
  • LGBT Youth Scotland is the largest youth and community-based organisation for LGBT people in Scotland. Text 07786 202 370
  • Gires provides information for trans people, their families and professionals who care for them | 01372 801554
  • Depend provides support, advice and information for anyone who knows, or is related to, a transsexual person in the UK

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