Op-Ed: How Eddie Izzard Inspired One Lesbian Author
BY Advocate Contributors
February 25 2012 5:15 PM ET
Justine Sarceran is the author of Sarah, Son of God, the tale of a transgender person in Venice. She explains why her fifth novel of historical fiction was inspired, in part, by her unusual attraction to comedian Eddie Izzard.
“So, I’ve got breasts!” British comic Eddie Izzard exclaimed as he came on stage, glancing down at his red satin bustier. The remark led into a riff about being a transvestite. Pointing to the new concavity at his midsection, he quipped, “Friends ask if I’ve lost weight. I say, ‘Noooo, I’ve got tits!’” The rest of his costume, miniskirt, tights, six-inch heels, and an 18th century gentleman’s coat, showed that it was not female impersonation, but his own gender-bending style. And he looked smashing.
In his show Sexie, he appeared with pixie-like blond hair and artfully mascaraed eyes, a shining angel of witty perversity. Moreover, the breasts often stayed with him on the street and in television interviews. For all that, he won the adoration of countless fans of all sexual orientations who, as his manager said, “want to mother him, love him, fuck him, care for him.” I could relate.
As a self-avowed "male lesbian," Eddie is but one coordinate on the wide landscape of sexual identities, and while gender bending onstage is not the same thing as the life-changing transgender experience, his humor and charm went a long way toward making transgender issues less scary to millions of people. Because, let’s face it, crossing those gender lines turns some people on but it makes other people want to kill you, so it needs all the PR it can get.
Inspired by the mystery of Eddie, and the curious urges it stirred in me, I spent a year brooding on the trans experience, separating what was off-putting from what was on-turning, and to whom. At the end, I had a novel to show for it, Sarah, Son of God, with a transgender heroine any lesbian could love.