by Joan Smith
Monday, 5
December 2022
Debate
11:37

Goodbye Eddie Izzard — and good riddance

Perhaps going 'girl mode' wasn't such a good idea
by Joan Smith
So much for ‘girl mode’. Credit: Getty

Eddie Izzard likes pink. Pink coats, pink jackets — they’re all over the website promoting his failed bid to stand as a Labour candidate at the next general election. Labour’s colour is traditionally red but pink is for girls, and Izzard has been campaigning in what he coyly calls ‘girl mode’ for months now. Alas, all his efforts came to nothing at the weekend when he was soundly beaten by a local councillor who also happens to be a woman. 

There was no pink in sight when Izzard posted a picture of himself with Abtisam Mohamed after she was selected as Labour’s candidate for Sheffield Central. For once Izzard was all in black but still in ‘girl mode’, judging by his high-heeled boots and the quilted bag slung over one shoulder. Other defeated hopefuls might have contented themselves with congratulating the winner but Izzard had to put himself front and centre. Towering over the diminutive Abtisam, he announced that he looked forward to “campaigning with her in the months and years to come”.


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How did Labour members in Sheffield come to reject someone who, by his own account, has mixed with celebrities and monarchs the world over? “Throughout my career and charity work,” he boasted, “I have had the privilege of working alongside and meeting with a range of Heads of State, prime ministers, global figures, and members of the British diplomatic core [sic] around the world, including King Charles III and Nelson Mandela”.

It’s just possible that Labour members were put off by Izzard’s shameless self-promotion, which included a claim that he’s done more campaigning than anyone else in the Labour Party: ‘There isn’t a Labour activist who has done more,’ his campaign literature announced. More even than Margaret Beckett or Harriet Harman, who have been MPs for a total of almost 80 years between them? And they’ve done it without making performative gestures about being in ‘girl mode’. 

In recent years, as one institution after another capitulated to gender ideology, Izzard has got used to fawning responses to his increasingly preposterous claims about who he is. He’s gone from declaring himself “all boy, plus extra girl” in 2004 to adopting female pronouns and announcing he wants “to be based in girl mode from now on” in 2020. Newspapers and websites obediently made the switch, referring to the comedian as ‘she’ as though he had actually changed sex. ‘Eddie Izzard sports fresh platinum blonde pixie cut and pink mini dress with trainers as she arrives in Malaga’, the Daily Mail burbled earlier this year.

It may be that this craven response from the media misled Izzard into over-estimating his popularity. But while people are ready to applaud an actor and comedian who challenges gender stereotypes, they may not be so keen on a man making demands that defy the evidence of their senses. Izzard’s claim to be trans highlights the problem at the heart of self-identification, which is that it requires so little of the individual — but so much of everyone else. 

Izzard is a man who likes to wear women’s clothes, favouring garments that are a parody of what actual women choose to wear. Expecting us to refer to him as ‘she’ is an affront to the female half of the population, whose experience of being women encompasses the ever-present threat of sexual and domestic violence. The setback to Izzard’s attempt to become a Labour MP is a heartening sign of a return to sanity. After all, being a woman involves a great deal more than wearing pink.

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Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
2 months ago

“the problem at the heart of self-identification, which is that it requires so little of the individual — but so much of everyone else.” Brilliant! Thank You!

Andi Pandi
Andi Pandi
2 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

i don’t think that that is the case with Eddie – s/he just expresses his/her own interesting perspective.. and leaves it entirely up to the audience to reach their own conclusions..

Douglas H
Douglas H
1 month ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

It’s a fabulous quote! And so true. I copied it and was about to paste it, but you’d beaten me to it.

Glyn R
Glyn R
2 months ago

Let’s hope it is good riddance! Personally sick to death of the woman face/ gender misappropriation act that is getting a free pass from the numpty class.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 months ago

Expecting us to refer to him as ‘she’ is an affront to the female half of the population,
Which pronoun we use is determined by biological reality and humans are very good at distinguishing between males and females.
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1068/p220131
The purpose of pronouns is to describe the reality we perceive and experience. Expecting us to refer to ‘him’ as ‘she’ is expecting us to deny the reality of our perceptions. It is asking us to convey an untruth. It is asking us to lie.

Last edited 2 months ago by michael stanwick
Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
2 months ago

Or, as the Daily Mail now is wont to do, referring to a single person as “they”. I realize that the Mail is just a T &A gossip sheet with no editing staff, but even it should have some basic standards in grammar.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 months ago

IMO, an equal manipulation of language is the misuse of proper nouns. When John calls himself Jane he becomes herself. Like the misuse of pronouns above, it is an attempt for that person to put themselves into another sex category – women.
The kernel of this particular manipulation lies in the function of proper nouns – they are the names or labels of people, places or things. But in the case above, the manipulation is that the proper noun or label is now instilled with meaning – it is no longer a mere label but a carrier of a sex classification.
So I say beware the manipulation of proper nouns. A person unwittingly accepting that incorrect usage, can make them an ally to gender ideology.

George H
George H
2 months ago

Singular ‘they’ has existed as perfectly acceptable English for literally centuries, as it’s considerably more elegant and efficient than ‘he or she’ when we don’t know the sex of the person being referred to. What is new is the deliberate use of ‘they’ to refer to a specific, known individual.

This might seem to be nitpicking but I think it’s important not to leave oneself open to accusations of ahistorical peeving. The ‘clever’ people who set the ‘right-thinking’ agenda thrive on feeling clever and on being perceived as clever. Don’t feed their (self-)image.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
2 months ago

When they came for the subs I said nothing because I wasn’t a sub editor.
When they came for the back bench I said nothing, because I didn’t work on the back bench.
When they sitched to Direct INput I sayed nothing,
and know there coming fo mi there is nobody left reeding the guff to say anything OMG!!

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
2 months ago

I’d also question self-identifying as a comedian.
Do some people actually find Izzard’s output amusing?

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

That’s what makes him a comedy genius

Philippe W
Philippe W
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

He was pretty drole (to borrow his spelling of that word) in the early 90s i.e. some three decades ago now. He was quite literally the dictionary definition of amusing others by ridiculous behaviour, though more recently unaware that he stopped being amusing and had started to become really creepy. Really really creepy. Ugh.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
2 months ago
Reply to  Philippe W

He was a fine actor in many good and different roles (just saw him as Bertie in “Victoria and Abdul”). But he is a shameless narcissist who squandered his gifts in pursuit of full time, non-stop look-at-me-ism. And now he’s an unfunny joke. Shame.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
2 months ago

I’d tend to agree about his acting. He was quite good as the straight-laced army guy in the remake of Whisky Galore (referred to in these pages last week). Perhaps he’s only any good when he’s playing a role.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

When is he ever not playing a role?

Edwina Addington
Edwina Addington
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Well he’s not very good in his trans politician role…

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

The stuff I’ve seen him do is, to be fair, both funny and clever. That said it was a while back, and none of it defended or peddled modern radical transgender politics.

Last edited 2 months ago by John Riordan
Vince B
Vince B
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

“Dressed to Kill,” – what was that, 30 years ago? – was absolutely side-splitting. Sadly, my wife and I went to see a show of his in Los Angeles a few years back and he was just phoning it in, knowing he had an adoring crowd eating out of his hand, whether he was funny or not. We left during intermission.

Einsteins Daddy
Einsteins Daddy
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Yes

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
2 months ago

Eddie Izzard is a woman.
Lipstick, frock, mascara, foundation cream, high heels – all present and correct.
I think that’s all you need to be a woman, isn’t it?

Benjamin Dyke
Benjamin Dyke
2 months ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

Aren’t we still waiting for Labour’s definition of a woman….have they not got a dictionary to hand or any knowledge they can draw on from the entire history of the human race?

Glyn R
Glyn R
2 months ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

Well that’s what we are intended to accept and repeat – as in the spirit of 2+2=5

Last edited 2 months ago by Glyn R
Vivienne Soan
Vivienne Soan
2 months ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

ha ha very funny !! comeduan ? …..or should i say comedienne?

Alan MacKellaich
Alan MacKellaich
2 months ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

Not being able to parallel park would clinch it for me!

Lisa Letendre
Lisa Letendre
2 months ago

Speak for yourself Alan! Men are the worse parallel parkers. No depth perception!

Sue Whorton
Sue Whorton
1 month ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

Oh dear. I am not wearing any of the above. Have I morphed unbeknownst to me into a different gender?

David Harris
David Harris
2 months ago

“the problem at the heart of self-identification, which is that it requires so little of the individual — but so much of everyone else. ”
Excellent statement. And applicable to many woke and left wing nostrums.

Last edited 2 months ago by David Harris
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 months ago

The woman who beat Izzard had the support of the retiring Labour MP as well as David Blunkett and all the local councillors as well as being a real woman and a Muslim so not surprisingly trumped Izzard with only one or two weak cards up his sleeve. Being trans and a celebrity is easily trumped up north.

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
2 months ago

“Expecting us to refer to him as ‘she’ is an affront to the female half of the population… ” and “the problem at the heart of self-identification, which is that it requires so little of the individual — but so much of everyone else. ”

I must say, I welcome seeing this in print from a respectable source. 10 out of 10 for that. With you all the way.

It simply isn’t enough to publicly nod along to the pernicious concept of self-identification, while quietly saying what we really think in private. We have to deny it, and refuse it in all areas of life. This ugly carpet of lies, deceit, and attention-seeking needs to be rolled right back up, and then thrown onto the tip.

Last edited 2 months ago by Albireo Double
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 months ago

It’s just astonishing that Labour supporters trivialise the status of women to being a mere affectation in dress.
And the liberal establishment are still supporting this persecution of women, and gay women too – The Arts Council being the latest. When is this trans zombie monster going to stop?
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/12/03/arts-council-boss-called-gay-rights-charity-anti-trans-film/
“At a meeting of 400 Arts Council staff, Simon Mellor, deputy chief executive, said: “LGB Alliance is a divisive organisation with a history of anti-trans exclusionary activity” and that it was “a mistake” to have made the funding award.”

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 months ago

tedious, sad, irrelevant little non-entity

Russell David
Russell David
2 months ago

He’s beneath contempt and what we used to be allowed to call a complete weirdo. Perhaps he’s also a pervert? But I guess we can’t say that any more either.
When you get allegedly conservative newspapers like the Mail and Express calling him ‘she’ it tells you how much the rot has set in.
So if Grayson Perry suddenly decided he was a she, would we call him that? The Mail and Express probably would! We should not have to live in a Lou Reed song.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
2 months ago

Eddie used to be a very funny man; now he’s just ‘a very funny man’.

Vivienne Soan
Vivienne Soan
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

tautology : shouldn’t that read has always been a very funny man?

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 months ago

“And they’ve done it without making performative gestures about being in ‘girl mode’. ”

Harman was involved in the “pink bus” fiasco in 2015 I believe, which was an attempt to “own” the female vote on the part of the Labour Party.

It was not well received, as you can imagine.

As for this:

“Expecting us to refer to him as ‘she’ is an affront to the female half of the population, whose experience of being women encompasses the ever-present threat of sexual and domestic violence. ”

Sorry, I don’t buy into this part of the argument. Women are not human beings which can be categorised in terms of victimhood. They are one half of the human race and possess unique characteristics that are far more important and identity-defining than a politically-synthesised narrrative such as this.

It is the narrative of victimhood which, in fact, opened the door to the trans-activist claims to the definition of womanhood and which has done such damage to women’s rights. It is also, importantly, the reason why the feminists now fighting this new war in defence of womanhood are having such trouble with it, because they themselves used the language of victimhood in times past.

It’s all nonsense – both the victimhood narrative generally, and the trans-activists use of it to push their narrow agenda. Eddie Izzard’s affront to womanhood is in his presumption to a state that is physically impossible for him and physically imperative for the three and a half billion women who were born to it, that is all.

Last edited 2 months ago by John Riordan
michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

… the female half of the population, whose experience of being women encompasses the ever-present threat of sexual and domestic violence
This is a good point, regarding a politically-synthesised narrative. I think the threat is framed as if there is no alternative. As such the threat is framed as exhaustive – it is ever-present – it is everywhere all the time.

Lisa Letendre
Lisa Letendre
2 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Another man calling male violence towards women ‘victimhood’. Like the violence is made up and women are just imagining it or if women just felt with it differently, it wouldn’t exist?! How dare you! When a man attacks a woman or a girl, the damage is done! It cannot be erased. Not all men are predatory, but almost all women do not make it through life without a man displaying threatening behaviour towards them.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
2 months ago

“It may be that this craven response from the media misled Izzard into over-estimating his popularity.”
How dare you! I’ll have you know that I am as gender-critical as anyone can be.

polidori redux
polidori redux
2 months ago

My tongue in cheek comment attracted 48 anonymous downvotes and has been “disappeared”
What are the guidelines here? How many downvotes am I allowed to aim for?

Last edited 2 months ago by polidori redux
Richard Craven
Richard Craven
2 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Haha| I did wonder what had come over you.

Paul Walsh
Paul Walsh
2 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

I was impressed with your downvotes. My reply also gone, I didn’t check to see if I also achieved an impressive number.

polidori redux
polidori redux
2 months ago
Reply to  Paul Walsh

To be uncharacteristally serious for a moment, I do not downvote any comment. If I am driven to object than I reply with, what I hope, is a reasoned argument (or at least an insult). Anonymous downvoting, coupled with a policy of deleting unpopular comments, is a Twitteresque form of censorship. What next: Removing excessively upvoted posts to discourage “populism”?
Perhaps in a Christmas Eve bumper edition, Unherd could publish a “best of” selection, under the tag “Horror Story for Christmas”. A free one year subscription for the best contribution would encourage offenders to redouble their efforts.

Last edited 2 months ago by polidori redux
Richard Craven
Richard Craven
2 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

I heartily approve of the abuse and mass-downvoting of woke comments, because of my belief in giving bullies a taste of their own medicine.

Last edited 2 months ago by Drahcir Nevarc
Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 months ago

What I want to know is if Abtisam Mohamed and Eddi Izzard visited the women’s lavatory together.

Huw Parker
Huw Parker
1 month ago

He’s gone from declaring himself “all boy, plus extra girl” in 2004 to adopting female pronouns and announcing he wants “to be based in girl mode from now on” in 2020.

Far worse than this, he’s completely rewritten his own history to claim that he’s been an ‘out’ trans woman since the 1980s. Pull the other one Eddie, it’s got pink tassels on it. Bottom line, since he cannot be trusted to be honest about his own very easily verified history, he cannot and should not be trusted to be honest about anything else. Go on mate, sling your hook. Good riddance indeed.

Alan MacKellaich
Alan MacKellaich
2 months ago

Aw he’s grotesque. Looks like a tart but she/he still drains his spuds eh!

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
1 month ago

Reading Izzard’s bio, I can’t find any mention of Sheffield until the application to stand as an MP for the city. Seems that to London types our Northern cities are just their playgrounds. I’m glad to see that Labour chose a local councillor instead.

Jan Rivers
Jan Rivers
2 months ago

I was I terested that he even tried when his bid to be on the National Council of Labour was rejected him so soundly.i think they saw “it’s all about Eddie” and they needed comitted hard workers.

Tony Taylor
Tony Taylor
2 months ago

Probably needs parliament gig since his latest show is rubbish.

Adrian Maxwell
Adrian Maxwell
1 month ago

 I’m just reading Ariel, the short biography of Jan Morris by Derek Johns. Morris had gender reassignment surgery in the 70s. The contrast between her (Im happy to use that epithet) and Eddie Izzard could not be more stark. The one dignified, hugely accomplished, well loved, timeless, lived a life of integrity and, importantly, looked good (acceptable?) by the standards of then and now. The other is a preening, self publishing show off, of questionable talent, who’s time is fading and, again importantly, looks an awful fright, a pastiche of d**k Emery’s ‘Ooh you are awful…..that may date me). Izzard is easy to disassemble. He is part victim, he revels in that role but still a victim, and part walking, talking, living production by Endemol as the fascination of the grotesque. A music hall act, a turn that keeps on giving as long as press and TV think he sells. He is a victim of what Marshall McLuhan called the open sewer running through our living rooms. I decline to link Izzard to the important contemporary issue of self identity, unlike Grayson Perry, he moves without talent. One of my sons self identifies and his life has no parallel with Izzard, at all. 

Huw Parker
Huw Parker
1 month ago
Reply to  Adrian Maxwell

(Im happy to use that epithet)

I’m not. You’re succumbing to the same trap that many gender identity advocates fall into, that of arguing that an ability to ‘pass’ makes a man somehow more worthy of their claim to be a woman. Just as a woman is an adult human female, whatever she looks like, so too Izzard – like every other adult human male – is a man.
The thing is, you either buy into the absurd credo that men can become women or you don’t. Just because you think one man pulls it off with more talent, better looks (!) and a more finely tuned sense of decorum than another does not make him any less a man or any more a woman.

William Jackson
William Jackson
1 month ago

An excellent article. At his age, if he had been female at birth, given his previous propensity for humour his coulor of choice would be more likely have been purple.

Andi Pandi
Andi Pandi
2 months ago

he is a comedian – putting absurdity into a broader context.. i have no problem with that..

Michael Gallagher
Michael Gallagher
2 months ago

Leave the guy alone, he’s done nothing to you.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
2 months ago

You’re not a woman, so you haven’t had to share a toilet with him.

Huw Parker
Huw Parker
1 month ago

Leave the guy alone

I see what you did there.

jane maywood
jane maywood
2 months ago

What was the point of this article? Maybe Izzard didn’t win because the other candidate was deemed better – pure and simple. What has it got to do with gender?

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
2 months ago
Reply to  jane maywood

Here’s the thing: Izzard has been cravenly pandering to the new “woke” gender ideology and undermining actual trans women who take hormones and have bottom surgery. He is not “trans” and never was. But he hoped to profit from the idiocy that has captured so many institutions. The fact that he failed to do that is a very hopeful sign for those of us who are eagerly awaiting the crash and burn of this McCarthyistic cult.
Good riddance to Izzard and all the fools who can’t define “woman”.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 months ago
Reply to  jane maywood

“What has it got to do with gender?”

The fact that it was central to his campaign.

polidori redux
polidori redux
2 months ago

Give her a break – Probably trying to kick start a flagging career. Compares favourably with Harriet Harperson I would think.
“Newspapers and websites obediently made the switch, referring to the comedian as ‘she’ as though he had actually changed sex.”
We all, grown-ups that is, know that a change of sex is not possible. The media is simply going with the flow. Why does this upset Joan Smith so?

Steve Elliott
Steve Elliott
2 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

From what I remember, the constituency had an all female short list. It’s important because the fact that Eddie was on the list at all is not fair to real women who might have wanted to stand. Like having men competing with women in sport or men being given Woman of the year awards, or Business Woman of the year awards. It’s not fair.

Peter Dawson
Peter Dawson
2 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Not time enough to give a full answer – so have a down vote instead.

Glyn R
Glyn R
2 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Not a she – a trans she perhaps or some other pronoun they might want but not she as in denoting female.

N Forster
N Forster
2 months ago
Reply to  Glyn R

He.

Paul Walsh
Paul Walsh
2 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Poor Eddie is probably on the edge. Interesting but intense character, I was quite impressed with his back to back Marathons. I don’t mind what he wants to be called, but hard to keep up, so I would probably make mistakes.

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

‘Going with the flow’. Ah, the Nuremberg defence

Last edited 2 months ago by Andrew D
polidori redux
polidori redux
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew D

No!!!

Chris W
Chris W
2 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

I’m assuming your post was more than a little tongue-in-cheek, so an upvote from me.

polidori redux
polidori redux
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris W

Thankyou!
At least one person understands. Bluddy Nora! We should rename this site Bozo Central

Last edited 2 months ago by polidori redux
Richard Craven
Richard Craven
2 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

*Harperoffspring

N Forster
N Forster
2 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Him.

polidori redux
polidori redux
2 months ago
Reply to  N Forster

Yeah I know. Eyes rolling!