August 21, 2013

Eddie Izzard on Crossdressing

British comedian Eddie Izzard has created a meme on Tumblr based on his appearance in the Australian TV show, the Project.

Izzard is asked about dressing up in women's dresses.

Izzard gives a reply that in a very clever way exposes the way our sexist societies differ between male bodied and female bodied "crossdressing":

"No, I wear dresses. They are not 'women's dresses'. They're my dresses. I buy them. It's like when women wear trousers. They're not cross-dressing. They're not wearing 'men's trousers'."

The retort shows us what a rhetorical master Izzard is.

And he has a point: Female to male crossdressers and crossdreamers get away with dressing up as men, mostly because crossdressing women are seen to be moving "upwards" in the social hierarchy. Being a man is good.

Crossdressing male bodied persons, on the other hand, are embarrassing both themselves and their social circles by appearing as something as humiliating as a weak and vulnerable woman. Even women may despise a man who wants to be a woman.

That being said: Izzard's comment misses the whole point of crossdreaming. Putting on a dress for a male to female crossdreamer is not the same as putting on trousers for a woman who is not a crossdreamer.

This is not a practical choice. This is not about dressing up comfortably.

No, this all about using stereotypical female clothing in order to express another side of the psyche, a side that most crossdreamers and crossdressers percieve as female and/or feminine.

This is also why so many women spend so much time on dressing up as women. They use fashion and make-up to express themselves as women. And yes, one of the objectives is most likely to appear beautiful, sexy and attractive.

If all men were expected to wear dresses (as -- let's say -- the Romans did with their gender neutral tunicas) the dresses would lose much of their power to symbolize femininity.

Female to male crossdreamers also crossdress, but if they want to express their inner masculinity they have to add more than a pair of jeans.

In subtle ways, they may add masculine looking shirts, belts or caps. If their need is stronger, they may flatten their chest. Like some lesbians, they might even be "packing".

Izzard knows this, of course. But he also knows that by sowing confusion in this way, he may get some of the viewers to take a minute to reflect on the topic of sex, gender and clothing.

That is a good thing.

I have not been able to find the original program; Nor am I certain who made this animated GIFs originally.

tg_captioner gave me the URL for the interview. Thank you! Here it is:
Go to 2:20.
Eddie Izzard en femme. Photo:

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