Eddie Izzard explains why she changed her pronouns: ‘I’m telling people the truth of how my head works’

Nick Duffy
·4-min read

Eddie Izzard has explained her shift to using ‘she’ pronouns and spoken about her desire to live most of the time in ‘girl mode’ in a conversation with Matt Lucas about her current marathon challenge.

The genderfluid comedian and political activist, who for decades has sometimes presented as male and sometimes as female in public, said earlier this month she would be primarily using she/her pronouns and will be “based in girl mode from now on”.

Her gender expression led to a tidal wave of hate from the anti-trans lobby, with some groups openly deriding Izzard’s desire to use she pronouns.

The comic, who is currently carrying out a charity marathon challenge from a treadmill, spoke about the issue with Matt Lucas during a livestream on Friday (14 January).

Eddie Izzard: ‘I’m going to be based in girl mode’

She explained: “I use ‘girl mode’ and ‘boy mode’ which are not great little phrases, but if anyone’s got a better one, I’ll use it.

“I was on Portrait Artist of the Year, they asked me politely as I was in girl mode, ‘What pronouns would you like to use?’ And I said, ‘Well, I’m in girl mode, so she and her would be great.’

“I’ve been out for 35 years. I came out in 1985, and I was doing shows in girl mode from 1991 onwards. It’s a bit like the world said, ‘Are you serious about this transgender after 35 years? We thought it was a tax dodge or something.’ It was a bit like that!”

Eddie Izzard spoke about the issue during a charity live stream
Eddie Izzard spoke about the issue during a charity live stream

Izzard added: “All my dramatic roles will be in boy mode… but I will be running, I’ll be doing comedy and I will be a political activist in girl mode.

“Up to my 50s I thought I was in boy mode, based in boy mode and expressing girl mode, so now on I’m going to be based in girl mode expressing boy mode. I thought I’d switch that round.

“It sounds a little complicated but I’m just telling people the truth of how my head works and the genetic thing, getting closer and closer and narrowing down how the brain is coded, which is differently than the body.”

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She continued: “I was open about it, and I requested – I never insisted – if you can do she/her pronouns that would be great. But if not, call me Eddie, call me mate, call me moosh, I don’t mind. I’m really trying to be sat back about it.

“A lot of people were very supportive. Some people, mainly the usual suspects, were very negative, but since then I seem to have been promoted to ‘she’.

“I’m about to do a role in boy mode in February, and it looks like on the set they’re going to say [to the crew], ‘Please go she/her on the pronouns.’

“That’s wonderful and I am very honoured to have she/her pronouns. But if people say ‘he’ I don’t mind. If they’ve got a problem just say Eddie, it just fits in.”

Matt Lucas has had an education on trans and non-binary issues

Matt Lucas added: “You have the right to constantly assess and change. I know somebody who identifies as non-binary, and I’d never heard of the concept until I met them… and a couple years ago, their pronouns became they/them. So, for me, it’s been a massive learning curve.

“I’m gay, and sometimes there’s an assumption that gay people will just get it more quickly, but I haven’t found that necessarily. Gender fluidity is still a big learning curve.

“And also, some people can’t tell the difference between gender and sexuality, and they get confused, but they are actually different things.

“So thank you – I feel like I’m still learning about it, and I appreciate you talking about it. It’s great that you’re expressing yourself and it’s great that I’m able to learn about it.”

Izzard added: “It’s a little bit of a tricky obstacle course. I can only speak for myself, but I have found all official organisations are either using Eddie or are using she/her.

“I feel wonderful, I feel like I’ve been promoted to she. Some people are really fighting on my behalf, but on my behalf I’d like everyone to be chilled about it.”

She continued: “The extreme right don’t agree with us, but they’re going to have to bog off, I’m afraid.”