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Eddie Izzard: Comedian, Transgender Activist, Labour Party Official

His one-man, stream-of-consciousness shows — often performed in full makeup and a dress — bounce rapidly among topics as diverse as his use of cosmetics, religion and the former British Empire.

In “Do You Have a Flag?” Mr. Izzard reflected on his country’s colonial past. Video by Eddie Izzard

“His brand of seduction aims directly at the head, not below the belt,” a critic for The Times wrote of Mr. Izzard’s “Sexie” show, when he performed it in New York in 2003.

Mr. Izzard has long delivered shows in French, which he speaks fluently, as well as English. And in recent years he has performed in German and Spanish, as well.

“I’ve got this weird thing which is, for one thing, making the stuff universal,” he once told The Independent in Britain.

Though he is most famous for his comedy, Mr. Izzard also has significant acting credits to his name.

He has appeared in the Hollywood blockbusters “Ocean’s Twelve” and “Ocean’s Thirteen,” and in television series such as “The Good Wife” and “Hannibal.” He recently acted opposite Judi Dench in “Victoria and Abdul,” a British period drama.

Eddie Izzard vs Nigel Farage on immigration – BBC News Video by BBC News

A Marathon Runner and Political Activist

Mr. Izzard embraces challenges — like performing in other languages — with a certain fervor.

In 2009, he ran 43 marathons in 51 days to raise money for charity, and in 2015, he ran 27 marathons in 27 days in South Africa, as a tribute to Nelson Mandela’s 27 years in prison.

He has been a vocal Labour Party member for years, and was a prominent campaigner for Britain to remain in the European Union, though he ended up on the losing side of that issue.

Mr. Izzard on his tour of Britain in support for remaining in the E.U. Video by Eddie Izzard

In 2016, he toured 31 cities in 31 days to “persuade people, particularly young people, to vote” ahead of Britain’s referendum on its European Union membership, calling his campaign “Stand Up For Europe.” He clashed with Nigel Farage, a prominent campaigner for a “Leave” vote, over housing and immigration during a BBC debate in the weeks before the referendum.

Not one to shy away from extravagance, Mr. Izzard added the Union Jack and the European Union flag to a perfect set of blood-red nails while he was campaigning.

A striking red manicure is part of Mr. Izard’s looks. In South Africa, he ran marathons with painted nails as a statement. Video by Eddie Izzard

‘I’m Not Wearing Women’s Clothes’

Mr. Izzard, who has described himself as “a transvestite,” “a transgender guy” and “a wannabe lesbian,” has been open about his identity since the age of 23.

Being trans, he has said, has informed his politics: In his campaign for the Labour Party position, he spoke about coming out in 1985, and declared that he had “always fought for the campaigns that I believe in, even when they are unpopular or I’ve been advised against it.”

Mr. Izzard has maintained that he has “boy genetics and girl genetics,” and that he does not believe in calling dresses “women’s clothes.”

“I’m not wearing women’s clothes — I’m wearing clothes,” he has said in many interviews.

Mr. Izzard has explained his identity many times in public, here, with a panel of women on a British television show. Video by Loose Women

He has said that coming out prepared him for the ruthless world of politics.

“Well, how much hate did I get for being a transvestite? It’s very, very high,” he said in an interview in 2013. He then added that people had referred to him as “that.”

“You know, if I can deal with that, then politics is easy,” he said.

Source: NYT > World

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