Eddie Izzard vows to become first transgender member of Labour’s governing body
Eddie Izzard is attempting to become the first trans person elected to Labour’s governing body.
Ballots have been sent to hundreds of thousands of Labour members today for the election Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC).
The comedian and activist, who came out as trans in 1985, previously missed out on a spot on the NEC in 2016 by just a few thousand votes.
Now he has embarked on a second campaign with a pledge to stand-up for LGBT rights.
If he wins the election he would become one of the most important trans political figures in Britain, having a key say in Labour internal governance.
In a new manifesto, Izzard says: “The barriers facing trans people in politics still need to be broken-down, and whilst there have been a few trans candidates for Parliament, disappointingly we have not seen a breakthrough in this area.”
Releasing a video to party members this morning, the comic, author and activist pledged to make Labour more diverse.
“I have been a Labour Party activist for many years,” he says in the video, “now I’m standing for the Labour Party NEC standing for an open and welcoming Labour Party to get people from many different backgrounds into the Labour Party, and to fight this narrow minded Tory government.
“To get the Labour Party in, winning at the next general election and Jeremy Corbyn as the Prime Minister.
“I have the energy and the drive to represent labour party members on the NEC.
“I believe in doing politics differently and I want people from diverse and different groups to be part of the Labour Party and part of our political system.”
Labour’s NEC is made of parliamentary representatives, including Jeremy Corbyn, trade union officials, councillors and Labour members.
Launching his campaign for the members’ section, Izzard said: “Being an actor and performing stand-up is what I do for a living, but being an activist has been part of me for a long time.
“I have always fought for the campaigns that I believe in, even when they are unpopular or I’ve been advised against it.
“I came out in 1985, joined the Labour Party in 1995 and I have now campaigned for LGBT rights, for the Labour Party, for Europe and have run marathons for charities for many years.
“I have campaigned against racists and fascists all over our country and around the world and I want all of our members to feel welcome in the Labour Party.”
Earlier this year he revealed he also wants to become Britain’s first transgender MP.
The marathon runner said he intends to give up comedy to run for parliament.
There has never been an openly transgender Member of Parliament in the UK, despite record levels of MPs who identify as lesbian, gay and bisexual.
The closest a transgender person has come to Parliament is Labour’s Sophie Cook, who came a close second to anti-LGBT Conservative Tim Loughton during the 2017 election in the East Worthing and Shoreham constituency.
He said: “The plan was always to run [for office] in 2020, though Theresa May has changed that with her failed power grab. So now it’s the first general election after 2020.”
The star added that he would give up performing entirely if elected.
The comic said: “I would. It’s like [former MP] Glenda Jackson; she gave up acting for 25 years to concentrate on it, then she turns up back as King Lear.”
The ambitious comic had previously teased a run as the Labour candidate for Mayor of London – but given the incumbent Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan is hugely popular, it’s highly unlikely there’ll be a vacancy in the post anytime soon.
In the same interview, Izzard opened up about coming out as trans.
The comic explained that coming out as trans was by far one of the scariest things he could do, and in turn that made other obstacles less threatening.
“I think coming out as transgender allowed me to put myself in other terrifying situations and work them out once I was in them.
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“I knew I would get through the bad, terrifying bit – and there was a lot of that when I was a street performer – and eventually get to a more interesting place.”
Izzard sometimes presents as male and sometimes as female.
Despite describing himself as a transvestite in the past, in recent years Izzard has more broadly described himself as transgender.
He explained last year during a marathon challenge: “I use it as a badge of identity – I am a transgender guy who came out 31 years ago.”
The star went on to explain that he often identifies as female and male – but that he felt society should not become so “obsessed” with gender.
“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.”