Boris Johnson Joked About Trans People Hours Before Conservative MP Came Out

The prime minister began a speech to his party by making jibes about "people who are assigned male or female at birth".
Boris Johnson's joke about trans people came just hours before Jamie Wallis came out
Boris Johnson's joke about trans people came just hours before Jamie Wallis came out
Mark Cuthbert via Getty Images

Boris Johnson took aim at the trans community during his opening speech at a parliamentary party dinner on Tuesday night just hours before a Conservative MP – who was in the audience – came out as trans.

According to Politico, Speaking at London’s Park Plaza hotel, the prime minister began: “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, or as Keir Starmer would put it, people who are assigned female or male at birth.”

This jibe at the leader of the opposition followed Starmer’s recent show of support for the trans community, as the Labour leader has repeatedly expressed his view that “trans women are women”.

A few hours later – at around 3am on Wednesday morning – Tory MP Jamie Wallis who went to the same dinner as the prime minister, shared a heartfelt post on Twitter explaining that he were trans “or to be more accurate, I want to be”.

In a subsequent post, Wallis explained that for the time being he will continue to use he/him pronouns, adding: “I remain the same person I was yesterday.”

The Conservative MP for Bridgend in South Wales also praised the support he has received from the Tory whips.

He revealed his experience with gender dysphoria, blackmail plots and sexual assault, before concluding: “I have never lived my truth and I’m not sure how. Perhaps it starts with telling everyone.”

He did not touch on the prime minister’s opening joke, but emphasised that the evening reminded him of “the incredible support those you work with can provide”.

Johnson’s jibe at the trans community was also defended by senior Tory Andrea Leadsom on Wednesday morning. Like Wallis, she attended the Conservative Party dinner.

She told BBC Two’s Politics Live that Johnson’s slight towards trans people was “a light-hearted joke”, although SNP MP John Nicholson said it had been in “appalling taste” and showed the prime minister had got “the tone wrong”.

After Wallis posted about his gender dysphoria, the prime minister tweeted in support of the Tory MP, writing: “Sharing this very intimate story would have taken an immense amount of courage. Thank you @JamieWallisMP for your bravery, which will undoubtedly support others.

“The Conservative Party I lead will always give you and everyone else, the love and support you need to be yourself.”

Johnson reiterated his support for Wallis during PMQs this afternoon when he promised that the Commons “stands with you and will give you the support you need to live freely as yourself”.

Asked on Monday if the prime minister believes trans women are women, Johnson’s official spokesperson said: “When people want to make the transition in their lives, they should be treated with maximum possible generosity and respect. And we have systems in this country that allow it and have done for a long time.”

They added: “We should be very proud of it. But obviously you made the point about the importance of the basic facts of biology.”

The week before, the prime minister said in PMQs that the “basic facts of biology remain overwhelmingly important” when distinguishing between men and women.

Wallis is the first MP to come out as an openly trans person, and has received a huge amount of support from other parliamentarians.

Help and support:

  • 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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