Eddie Izzard on being transvestite and transgender

Eddie Izzard has long been my favorite stand up comedian. I think s/he is positively brilliant. I love the seemingly stream of consciousness patter, the mimicking of conversations, allusions to the Bible and history and popular culture, and the ability to find humor in the most mundane aspects of life. There are many clips from the live performances available on YouTube (many of which I have linked to in the past) but if you can get hold of the full performances that are available on DVD, they are well worth it.

Whens Izzard first came out in 1985, s/he described himself as a transvestite but more recently s/he has started using the term transgender and says that s/he thinks that they are effectively equivalent. Izzard presents as both a man and a woman and the descriptions of self-identity now are complex (on occasion giving a self-description as a ‘straight transgender’ and ‘male lesbian’) and it is not clear what gender pronoun s/he prefers.

In this interview, Izzard talks about that complex and evolving sense of identity and how s/he has dealt with the hostility that s/he has faced in life, especially when younger and not famous and thus more vulnerable to negative encounters from people in the street. Izzard developed the ability to stare and ‘give non-victim vibes’ that deter potential aggressive behavior by others, especially young people in England and France. Izzard is quadrilingual, speaking fluent English, French, German, and Spanish.

Incidentally, Izzard campaigned strongly for the Labour party and against Brexit. In an appearance with Stephen Colbert a couple of weeks ago, Izzard called himself a ‘spiritual atheist’ and said that s/he planned to run for parliament in the next general election in the UK.

Izzard is an international treasure. I hope s/he wins a seat in parliament because s/he seems really jazzed about the idea.


  1. fentex says

    Izzard is quadrilingual, speaking fluent English, French, German, and Spanish.

    My favourite bit of his is his describing how, when he first went to France to try his act abroad, and not speaking French, got into a discussion about his room in a hotel -- over the course of telling the story, and about his travails in learning French, it morphs into a joke told in French that is completely understandable for non-French speakers solely by what is taught, as humour, in it.

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