Eddie Izzard on transphobia, pronouns, abuse and her passion to become Sheffield MP

It’s not often that a global icon bids to be a Yorkshire MP but Eddie Izzard has made her career by always standing out and standing up for what she believes in.

Izzard, 60, who became famous as a stand-up comedian and then as an actor as well as making headlines for her charitable runs, has opened up about people querying what pronoun to use when referring to Izzard and how she responds to abuse she has endured.

She said: “People seem angry about me being trans but I’m being honest with myself. I exist. I am allowed to exist as all humans are allowed to exist.”

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While Izzard prefers to be referred to as she/her, she said she doesn’t mind how people refer to her as she is gender fluid but her focus is on the task in hand.

Eddie Izzard is running to become an MP in Sheffield. (Picture: Habibur Rahman)Eddie Izzard is running to become an MP in Sheffield. (Picture: Habibur Rahman)
Eddie Izzard is running to become an MP in Sheffield. (Picture: Habibur Rahman)

Izzard is among several possible candidates to replace former Sheffield Central Labour MP Paul Blomfield’s seat. Other candidates include Paul Mason, Rizwana Lala, Mike Buckley and city councillors Jayne Dunn and Abtisam Mohamed.

“I chose Sheffield and Sheffield chose me,” said Izzard.

Despite having run 131 marathons, raising £4 million for charity and having previously campaigned for Labour in more than 125 constituencies, Izzard has found her gender identity come under fire since she put her name forward for the position.

But there’s no stopping Izzard as our reporter Sophie Mei Lan discovered when running the last lap of the Manor Parkrun in Sheffield alongside the star.

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The parkrun is more of ‘a walk in the park’ for multi-marathon runner Izzard. Her tenacity in the face of adversity is inspirational with Izzard fully focused on Sheffield despite preparing to perform a one-woman show of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations on Broadway this Christmas.

With the same ease of playing 21 characters as Izzard will be doing in her upcoming Broadway show, Izzard has transformed seamlessly into a serious political candidate. And while she evidently has touches of showbusiness about her such as immaculate make-up and nails on a rainy parkrun, Izzard is extremely down-to-earth.

She said: “This makeup is from Superdrug. Oh and I got my nails done at Top Nails in Sheffield city centre.”

But Izzard’s fierce passion for Sheffield is far from superficial. She said she wants to use her global status to create a “brighter, stronger, bolder” city and to put it on the map.

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“I can be a strong voice in Parliament. I will be here helping the people of Sheffield as much as I can,” said Izzard, who was keen to point out that she wouldn’t be running away to London.

Instead Izzard said that wherever she goes around the world she has been and will be promoting Sheffield, the place she calls home.

“There’s a discrepancy between rich and poor,” said Izzard, who first came to Sheffield to follow in her father’s footsteps studying accounting and financial management. But since dropping out to follow her creative dreams she had since she was a seven-year-old, Izzard has never looked back.

While ‘coming out’ 37 years ago and now identifying as a gender fluid trans woman has been the best thing for Izzard’s mental health, she has faced a lot of discrimination.

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“It had quietened down but it has kicked back up again,” said Izzard. “In politics it is fine for people to ‘agree or disagree’ but bullying is not acceptable. A tiny minority of people are being very vocal and transphobic online, I just ignore it.

“I came out 37 years ago. I have been getting bullying and abuse from people. I don't agree with bullying. I ignore it. I will keep soldiering on. I’ve been open and honest.”

Izzard, who could become the first trans woman MP, said it is only “two per cent” of the public who are hateful but make their voices heard. However, Izzard uses her marathon mentality to “keep going.”

“I’ve been doing parkruns going around talking to everyone,” she added. “It’s been good to go out and meet people everywhere.”