by Julie Bindel
Friday, 14
October 2022
Dispatch
08:00

Even Eddie Izzard’s fans aren’t convinced

Outside his gig, supporters were worried about being labelled transphobic
by Julie Bindel
Credit: Getty

Sheffield

In December 2020, the comedian and actor Eddie Izzard decided that he wanted to be “based in girl mode” permanently. Previously, the comedian had been happy to identify as a mere transvestite, appearing in eye-catching outfits such as thigh-high boots and whatever ‘hooker chic’ look he fancied. 


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But now Izzard, who is hoping to get elected as Labour MP for Sheffield Central, is demanding we use she/her pronouns for him. When I went to see his show in Sheffield for my podcast, he was spotted coming out of the women’s toilets. How quickly men are accepted as women when they declare themselves as such. Izzard, who wasn’t in the slightest bit funny, was introduced as “she”, and sat there crossing and uncrossing his legs while shooting lipsticked pouts at the audience throughout.

I decided to ask the members of the public prior to and following the gig whether they supported Izzard’s political campaign and if they would be happy to refer to him as a “female politician”.

I chatted to a young man in his early 20s who said he was fully supportive of trans rights, and that electing a transgender MP would signify inclusion. When I pressed him on sex-based rights and the exclusion of women, he got the point, and started to row back on his argument. 

One Labour-voting woman in her late 40s told me she was all for inclusion and diversity, saying that she didn’t see a problem with Izzard “being referred to as she, if that’s what she wants.” 

I asked if she thought that meant being able to self-identify as a woman, even if he had not had surgery, and whether this might cause any problems in single-sex spaces. When I mentioned crisis centres and hospital wards, she changed her tune swiftly: “I wouldn’t want men in women’s refuges and the like. I grew up in a very violent household, and that would not be good.”

A number of women outside the venue on their way into the gig expressed concern about any man claiming to be a woman. They gave the simple reason that this is a threat to single-sex services, which exist to protect women and girls from male violence, but acknowledged that it is difficult to speak out, lest they be labelled bigots. 

It soon became clear through my conversations that a number of people I spoke to were reluctant to criticise the Labour candidate, with a man in his 50s telling me that “to be critical of Izzard will now be seen as transphobic, whatever the issue at hand.” Others felt similarly: many checked first that they did not have to give their real name when they admitted to feeling uncomfortable about the prospect of Izzard representing them as a female MP.

We are now beginning to emerge from the Stonewall-imposed era of ‘no debate’, but the legacy of silence remains. The people of Sheffield deserve the chance to be represented by the best person for the job. If that isn’t Izzard, they must be able to say so without being labelled bigots.

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Laura Boulton
Laura Boulton
1 month ago

While cancel culture is, in many ways, a serious threat to someone with a job, why are people so scared of being labelled “transphobic”, “bigoted” and what-have-you by people of extreme ideological views. The more people who say “who the heck do YOU think you are to call me names, and tell me what to think and say” and wear the labels with pride (and humour, perhaps) the better. The “silent majority” is, I think, a large majority, and needs to stand up and be counted. If almost everyone, for example, in an organisation refuses to go on one of the more extreme diversity courses, what can the organisation do? Sack three quarters of their staff?

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 month ago
Reply to  Laura Boulton

A critical mass of the ‘silent majority’ required for change will only brave the risks when led by those few who have the courage to lead the way, such as Julie B and Kathleen S. It’s like Brexit – Farage had to suffer a lot of ridicule and brickbats, remember ‘fruitcakes’?, before the silent majority finally spoke their views. On Trans we’re almost at that point when the tide turns – Izzard getting nominated as a woman MP would, I think, tip the silent majority to action in the polling booths.

Last edited 1 month ago by Ian Stewart
Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

The silent majority or the moral majority or the cowardly majority.

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
1 month ago

‘A majority’ is an abstraction. People are real. When considering risks absolutely no-one worries about abstractions. They want to know ‘What risk am I running here?’

Last edited 1 month ago by Arnold Grutt
Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 month ago
Reply to  Laura Boulton

Well said, this is absolutely the way forward.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 month ago
Reply to  Laura Boulton

Indeed. Why are people letting themselves get bullied by men wearing dresses?

Angelique Todesco
Angelique Todesco
1 month ago
Reply to  Laura Boulton

I was very struck by an article I read recently about a 14 year old girl who asked the question in class “Can all races suffer from racism”. From that moment her life became hell, she was bullied terribly, no one dared befriend her, she was beaten up badly on several occasions. Social media decried her as a racist and much more. Going into town on her own became dangerous, as mob mentality had her in it its sights. In the end she had to move schools and things have started to improve (she has some friends), but it didn’t stop her getting recognised and attacked in the streets recently.
How can anyone who does not have the resources, support and strength of mind not worry about this. And yes I know she was a child, but what if the parent was so accused and the child was targeted. There are some very simple-minded people out there who have found each other and consider themselves to be geniuses thanks to social media platforms. Nothing more dangerous than an idiot who thinks they know it all.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 month ago

Extract from the Free Speech Union (FSU) newsletter today with a good illustration of Graham Norton’s misogyny:

”So much for Norton “hitting out against elements of cancel culture”. As to his “defending inviting JK Rowling onto his Virgin radio show”, what he actually defended was his decision to turn the volume down on Rowling’s “problematic” views. Despite admitting that he’d never talked to her about “the transgender issue”, he said he imagined they would disagree, and that, as a result, he “wouldn’t have her on to air her views”. Why did he “have her on” at all? Because despite her “problematic” views, “she has the right to still wang on about her crime novel”.

No doubt men said much the same thing about Suffragettes at the turn of the nineteenth century; that ‘authoresses’ like JK Rowling were perfectly entitled to regale their husband’s guests with excerpts from their latest, entirely frivolous novellas over the dinner table, but that they really mustn’t muddle their pretty little heads with all the complicated affairs of state that the gentlemen would be thrashing out together over a spot of port once the ladies had retired to the drawing room. Poor Mr Norton. The last of the great Edwardians. Perhaps he thought no-one would notice the antiquated trend to his thoughts. As he himself might put it, “it must be very hard to be a man of a certain age who’s been able to say whatever he likes for years, and now suddenly there’s some accountability”.“

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 month ago

Whatever people might say when asked in public, who they actually vote for in the privacy of a polling booth is another matter.

Like Julie, i don’t find Izzard remotely funny, although he did play a camp army officer rather jauntily in the remake of Whisky Galore.

Having listened to him (he appeared as a male) on Question Time a while back, his level of political thought was sub-schoolboy. I doubt that’ll change, even if he became Head Girl.

Last edited 1 month ago by Steve Murray
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

His old comedy routines and delivery style is quite funny. But as soon as he opens his mouth on politics, he sounds as you say like an idealistic teenager.

But I’d like to see him selected as a female MP just to see the fallout for Stonewall and Labour – no women with any intelligence would vote Labour. Might be the only thing that could save the tories at the next election – if they deserve saving.

Last edited 1 month ago by Ian Stewart
Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

His ‘canteen on the death Star’ sketch is hilarious.

Huw Parker
Huw Parker
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

There’s a danger here, I think, that we are sinking to the level of Malcolm Muggeridge’s opposition to ‘Life of Brian’, where he clearly couldn’t decide if he disliked it because he thought it was blasphemous, or just because he thought it was ‘a tenth rate film’.
For what it’s worth, I saw Eddie Izzard do comedy at the height of his career, and I think he was up there with some of the very best. I think he is intelligent, and has a certain political nous that is not found in many other celebrities who are tempted to dip their toes into the murky waters of Westminster.
But none of this means that I have to accept he is a woman simply because that’s what he would like. To me, this position is indefensibly misogynist and homophobic, not to mention being profoundly unscientific. So long as it remains a part of his manifesto, it’s a big fat ‘No!’ from me.
And I suspect I’m far from alone. I rather think this issue will play out a bit like Brexit or the MAGA / Trump movement (neither of which I supported, by the way). The electorate may be reluctant to air their genuine views in public for fear of the perceived backlash, but once inside the voting booth, the truth will out.

Steve Elliott
Steve Elliott
1 month ago

I’ve always liked Eddie Izzard but I think he’s gone off the rails a bit. People like him and Grayson Perry are attention seekers which was fine when they were original and entertaining but the trans world has overtaken them. It’s not new or funny or interesting any more. I don’t know about Grayson Perry but I get the impression that Eddie Izzard is desperately trying to get in with the in crowd. Sad really. It’s about time they grew up.

Huw Parker
Huw Parker
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Elliott

There is, I think, a huge difference between the two. As far as I am aware, Grayson Perry is a heterosexual man who likes dressing as a woman. He’s not claiming to be a woman, or trans, or queer, or any of the countless other labels that offer instant cachet in the identity-obsessed 2020s. I certainly don’t remember having heard his name cited in the usual rants from gender ideologues. In fact, I wonder if he isn’t perhaps something of an embarrassment to them.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 month ago

Saw him live in New York, always enjoyed his comedy specials, found him to be an interesting actor (superb as Charlie Chaplin in “The Cat’s Meow”), but he’s become such an attention hog (all those marathons!), he now strikes me as a ridiculously vain man with a big case of personality disorder. “She”, my actual female a*s.

Ron Bo
Ron Bo
1 month ago

I saw him about 3weeks ago walking around a Sheffield suburb near the , University.He was all pink lipstick, gorgeous pink jacket and matching dress.
He then popped into the local Costa.
I thought to myself,Ted you’re a narcissist,do grow up.
The ward where he wants to stand has enjoyed cultural enrichment over the years so I think his chances are slim.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 month ago

It really is most refreshing to see that not a single mention of Izzard in the article or the comments refers to him using female pronouns. We really have turned a corner.

Helen Manson
Helen Manson
1 month ago

Kellie-Jay Keen (of Standng for Women) is thinking of running against Izzard. What a great opportunity to bring the debate to the public and demonstrate it’s ok to question and speak out against the ideology.

Andy Denis
Andy Denis
1 month ago
Reply to  Helen Manson

There’s already an excellent Green Party prospective candidate (https://bright-green.org/2022/10/12/green-party-members-publicly-refuse-to-campaign-for-sheffield-parliamentary-candidate/). It would be tragic if Alison and Kellie-Jay ended up fighting each other.

Huw Parker
Huw Parker
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy Denis

She is indeed an excellent candidate. But let’s be pragmatic for a moment. The chances of the Green Party managing to get a second MP elected in the foreseeable future are vanishingly small. And that’s with the party united behind their candidate. In this case, with a major faction refusing to support their party’s own candidate, they are as close to nil as makes no odds. Kellie-Jay Keen, on the other hand, might well attract a significant proportion of the Labour vote who refuse to buy into the emperor’s new clothes of ‘Eddie is a girl’.
NOTE: I write this as a Green Party member, but one who realises that, as long as it continues to entertain gender ideology, the party is eating itself alive.

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
1 month ago

Poor Eddie.
He bravely came out as a transvestite and to his horror, realised that it was being transgender that was fashionable.
Mind you, his act used to be very female orientated, if I remember correctly. Wasn’t it filled with references to periods and menstruation and toxic masculinity and typical girlie stuff?
Or am I right in thinking that apart from wearing a dress and make up, Izzard’s act was totally lacking in any femininity?

Last edited 1 month ago by Steven Carr
Lindsay S
Lindsay S
1 month ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

I watched a lot of his early stuff and it was very gender neutral unless you count the introduction of Mrs Badcrumble.

Matt M
Matt M
1 month ago

I’ll never understand why celebrities want to transition to become politicians.
Being Eddie Izzard the comedian is surely easy street – money, fame, adulation and an outlet for your creative talents.
Eddie Izzard the Labour politician is derided, ridiculed or ignored and has to sink to low publicity stunts like dressing up as a woman to get attention.
Seems so odd to me, but they all seem to want to do it.

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt M

Eddie Izzard complains it is hard to get a date. (Yes, I’m puzzled too as to why)
It is strange that these new MtF women like Eddie, who claim to be attracted to women, never seem to find any of these other MtF attractive enough to date, almost as though they don’t regard them as women at all.

Huw Parker
Huw Parker
1 month ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

Eddie Izzard complains it is hard to get a date. (Yes, I’m puzzled too as to why)

It must be transphobia. There is literally no other explanation possible. Apparently.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
1 month ago
Reply to  Huw Parker

Not that I’m single, but when I was, I had the rule never to date anyone who takes longer than me to get ready and never date anyone with more problems than me. That rules out trans women.
Also wardrobe sharing goes one way only which is why we have the term Boyfriend jeans/tee’s and Hoodies. No way I’d want my leggings or skinny jeans stretched out of shape in the groin area! Mortifying!

Kenji Fuse
Kenji Fuse
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt M

To be fair, being a stand up comic is almost the most difficult of occupations – maybe only being a radical second wave feminist spokesperson is more fraught with peril.
But why do celebrities want to transition to become politicians? I would say that the ones that do is because at their core they are insecure and ambitious narcissists. There are still a lot of “firsts” to be attained and perceived glory and rewards to be reaped.
Ms. Bindel correctly diagnosed the problem of male narcissism at least 8 years ago.

Last edited 1 month ago by Kenji Fuse
N Forster
N Forster
1 month ago

Julie, surely you’d look forward to Eddie being the first woman Labour leader? It’s about time they had one…

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 month ago
Reply to  N Forster

And Graham Norton would be first in line celebrating ‘her’ victory!

Why do so many gay men hate women?

Last edited 1 month ago by Ian Stewart
Jonathan Smith
Jonathan Smith
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

“Why do so many gay men hate women?” ~ Trust me they don’t. There’s a conversation going on in gay male circles about this whole issue. If you’ve heard of ‘transing away the gay’ you’ll know why. It has manifestations on many social media platforms – look at interviews done by Benjamin Boyce or Graham Linehan… and channels like Arty Morty & EDI Jester on YT.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan Smith

Thanks Jonathan – I was being rather provocative as the gay men I’ve known have been greatly supportive of women in their social circles. But I do feel there is a ‘strain’ of gay culture that is seriously misogynistic that is probably hugely over represented by celebrities and the media.

For example, every time I Google about an issue related to the persecution of women (usually prompted by trans rights activists), up pops ‘Pink News’ at the top of the search results, roundly castigating women for defending their rights.

Oh and I do follow Graham L too, though his last widely shared cast was rather poorly presented!

Last edited 1 month ago by Ian Stewart
Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

It’s the difference between gay and ‘Queer’. The former being natural orientation, the latter a socio-cultural-political outlook.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 month ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

Ah you’ve summed it up nicely Sharon. I’m quite clever but just couldn’t understand the ‘queer’ definitions and usage in sexual culture. I’ve now realised the people who use the queer terminology are just political activists who don’t respect logic.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

“Why do so many gay men hate women?”
Apparently there’s a phenomenon known as “Vicious Queens”, q.v. the antisemitism of John Galliano when in his cups.

Rob N
Rob N
1 month ago

You know that chap (it normally is) at the running club who goes around dressed like Mo Farah and obviously would love to be an Olympic Champion. Well what would we think of the people who said to him ‘You know, Frank, I think you probably are as fast as Mo. What do you think, Jane?” And Jane says “Definitely, in fact I think we should call him Mo because he is just like Mo, even if a bit bigger.” And the whole club then tell Frank every time that they see him that he is just as fast as Mo, call him Mo and if only people would use the right stopwatches his times would be just as fast.
Frank knows, deep down, that this is not true but he would love it to be true and as everyone keeps saying he is as fast as Mo then maybe, just maybe, he is. So he plays along with their joke/deception/cruelty until he begins to forget that he knows it is not true. He now can’t escape from that fantasy world and starts to insist people call him ‘Mo’ or even ‘Sir Mo’. And mostly they do either because they think it is funny, don’t want to ’cause a fuss’ or because they don’t want to upset him. Those few who see this deception as cruel and unhelpful to Frank’s long term mental health, let alone everyone else’s grasp of reality, need to stand up for truth and remind Frank that he is Frank and ‘only’ a reasonable runner.
Of course this is not relevant to Eddie Izzard as we all know he is an impressive runner, having done lots of marathons.

Last edited 1 month ago by Rob Nock
Kyla bromhead
Kyla bromhead
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob N

Great!

Tom Lewis
Tom Lewis
1 month ago

“they must be able to say so without being labelled bigots.”

They must, also, be able to say so, because they ‘are’ bigots, or, as we used to understand it, have a different view or opinion.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
1 month ago

Another term needs to be found as a corrective bounce-back to the “transphobic” slur. Something like “transatheist” or “transdoubter”?

R S Foster
R S Foster
1 month ago

…we could move on to “normal person” as opposed to “pervert” I suppose…

Russell David
Russell David
1 month ago

We’re all living in clown world now.
And clowns are scary…

Andy Denis
Andy Denis
1 month ago

Good article, as always. Thank you, Julie.

John Solomon
John Solomon
1 month ago

I would certainly not describe myself as a fan of Julie Bindel, but there is one thing you can say about her : she IS a woman!

Harry Bo
Harry Bo
1 month ago

I’ve never found Izzard funny as a stand up, although Eddie’s done some good acting.

Huw Parker
Huw Parker
1 month ago
Reply to  Harry Bo

I have to say, Eddie’s ability to play men convincingly is quite breath-taking. Although it does make me feel a bit uneasy that Eddie has taken all these roles that were intended to be played by men. Is that really fair?

N Forster
N Forster
1 month ago

You may have more success posting that sort of thing on Twitter.

Peter Betul
Peter Betul
27 days ago

Like others who once found Mr Izzard’s comedic waffle mildly amusing, but now disturbingly unfunny within the current context of his fashionable guise as a ‘female politician’ – none of which could survive any practical scrutiny – this slippery slope (should he succeed with his ambitions) can only lead to an undermining of our right to express a scepticism on such subjects. And that should be a concern for all of us, including him.