Comedian Eddie Izzard has spoken passionately about his gender identity – while attempting to run 27 marathons.

The British comic and self-proclaimed Marathon Man is currently in South Africa, raising money for Sport Relief by attempting to run 27 marathons in 27 days despite battling heat, exhaustion and potential injuries.

While in more relaxed circumstances he dons make-up and female clothing, the marathons leave little room for Izzard’s gender expression – outside of painting his nails red.

Speaking in a South African nail salon, the comic gave an impassioned speech about why he sees his gender identity as important.

He said of the nails: “I use it as a badge of identity – I am a transgender guy who came out 31 years ago.

“I’ve got boy genetics and girl genetics. We get obsessed by it in humanity. We’ve been obsessed for 5,000 years of civilisation and people are still being murdered – in Uganda they were trying to sentence people to death.

“If you look at a tiger, you go ‘ooh, tiger!’, we don’t go ‘girl tiger’ or ‘boy tiger’. We are obsessed by the genders because we grow up in one gender or another. No other animal is obsessed by our gender – they don’t give a monkeys about our gender.

“No matter what sex or sexuality, how you self-identity, or who you fancy, matters not one whit – what do you do in life? What do you make? What do you add to the human existence? That’s what’s matters.

He added: “It all comes back to Nelson Mandela: Try and put something into the world, and leave something positive.

“The confidence that it has given me, coming out 31 years ago in 1985, is immense – but it was a very hard journey. Very hard.

The comedian continued: “I identify somewhat boyish and somewhat girlish. I identify both, but I fancy women.

“I don’t know why, it’s just the genetic cards I’ve been given. A lot of people have said very nasty things to me, have fought me in the streets… but f**k them!

“Because this is real, and this has always been here, so let’s get the truth out, rather than running and hiding.”