I’m a feminist – Eddie Izzard’s transphobic bullying isn’t in my name

Eddie Izzard in a pink beret

Eddie Izzard is running as Labor Party parliamentary candidate for Sheffield Central (Photo: Chris Williamson/Getty Images)

Whatever your views on gender or sex – and I accept people have many – the abuse it was aimed at Eddie Izzard over the past few weeks has been nothing but pure bullying.

Bullying that weaponizes feminism to harm an already vulnerable and stigmatized group. Bullying allegedly happening on my behalf and on behalf of all cis women.

Eddie Izzard is running as a Labor Party parliamentary candidate for Sheffield Central. On Thursday 29 September she held a fundraiser for the Labor Party in Sheffield which was attended by a writer who then showed photos of Eddie coming out of the ladies’ room.

The author published an article with her thoughts on Eddie’s toilet use. While one might have taken that moment as inspiration for a reflection on same-sex spaces and protected traits in the law, I think the result was an essay that actually attempted to demean, mock, and bully a person who simply needed a woe .

She described Eddie as “a bored millionaire guy in outdated knee-high boots trying to reinvent himself as both a woman and an MP.” She accused the women who escorted Eddie to the toilet of “a supreme treason against women in the UK”.

Well, while someone could be forgiven for accidentally miscoding Eddie, it wasn’t a mistake.

Eddie has used masculine pronouns for decades, even after coming out as a “transvestite” in 1985. Eddie is not now “reinventing” himself as a woman, but is responding to a world that is growing in its acceptance of fluid language and those expressing their identity and sexuality outside of hetero-cis-gender norms.

Of course, one should forgive oneself for not knowing that Eddie now uses the pronouns she/they, but this author knew.

There is room for legitimate concerns about same-sex spaces. I can understand the fear that feminist activists have regarding men abusing gender self-identification laws to gain access to women’s prisons or shelters for victims of domestic violence.

But instead of focusing on the real problem – the problem of male violence against women – some commentators and activists prefer to focus on one person using a toilet, or the two people who allegedly facilitated that toilet visit and suggest that they there somehow are traitors as a result.

Most people on both sides of the argument agree that male violence against women needs to be eradicated, but when people insist on using “feminism” to cover up their transphobia, I fear the most important message is lost.

A person’s desire to change their gender identity and live as that gender does not directly cause violence against women. Male violence against women causes male violence against women.

Men who falsely change their gender identity in order to abuse them are an act against women and trans women.

As a columnist and broadcaster, it’s my job to comment and judge what’s happening in the news and in the world of entertainment and sports. Sometimes that’s easy, sometimes not.

Sometimes I just don’t feel well equipped to fully argue an issue that doesn’t concern me – so I shy away from it.

As someone who identifies with the same gender I was assigned at birth—the same gender that people see me as and interact with on a day-to-day basis—I previously felt that I wasn’t engaged in gender debates identity was involved.

Eddie Izzard wears a black coat and red Labor ribbon

I hope Eddie Izzard receives kindness and acceptance from people across the political spectrum (Image: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

I knew I wanted to be a trans ally but I wasn’t sure how to be a good one, I wasn’t sure my voice would add to an already crowded discussion and I’m sure that there will be people reading this feeling the same.

But when people take it upon themselves to abuse and humiliate others for my perceived benefit in an attempt to fight for my rights in the name of feminism, how can I not be a part of it?

As with any topic that relates to a specific group, we need to include more people with lived experience in conversations that take place on a public platform.

Too often, debates about trans issues are led by cisgender people, with trans activists only being brought up in defense. I rarely see trans people being asked for anything else.

Like most women in politics, Eddie’s politics has been sidelined in favor of talk about her appearance, misogynistic comments, and doubts about her ability to do her job because of her gender. I hope that she will experience kindness and acceptance from people across the political spectrum – even if they don’t vote for her at the ballot box.

I wish I had spoken out more about trans rights in the past. I wish I hadn’t allowed my fear of doing it right to keep me from naming the wrong.

Being an ally is not a passive process. Being an ally means acknowledging bigotry and bullying for what it is, even when you’re undecided — or enlightened — about the many aspects of an upcoming debate.

You don’t have to have lived experience to speak out about transphobic abuse. Bullying and abuse transcend all genders, genders, sexualities and backgrounds, even as they claim to be rooted in feminism.

We must stand against anyone who uses feminism as a thinly veiled disguise for transphobic bullying.

Do you have a story you would like to share? Contact us by email at Ross.Mccafferty@metro.co.uk.

Share your views in the comments below.

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https://metro.co.uk/2022/10/14/im-a-feminist-transphobic-bullying-of-eddie-izzards-not-in-my-name-17567399/ I'm a feminist - Eddie Izzard's transphobic bullying isn't in my name

Justin Scaccy

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