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‘Everyone is a little bit trans’

Comedian Ian Harvie draws inspiration from his experience as a trans man. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

It’s a common idea that everyone has something about themselves that they’d change if they could. This concept is seen in ways ranging from dieting to cosmetic surgery. For comedian and Transparent actor Ian Harvie, being transgender is no different.

Harvie, who will be speaking Tuesday as part of the University Lecture Series, utilizes his identity as a trans man in his comedy and in his acting. His most notable role is as Dale on Amazon’s show Transparent.

He was born female, in Portland, Maine. He came out as lesbian when he was 19-years-old and realized that he was trans a decade later.

Harvie will be speaking as part of his “Everyone is a Little Bit Trans” tour, which embellishes on the concept that being trans is just another way to be uncomfortable with something about yourself and wanting to change it. 

Harvie started a TED Talk back in 2015 with a similar concept.

“If I could change something about my body, I would change blank,” he said. 

He went on to explain how he’d play with the boys in his neighborhood, argued with his parents about clothes and started having crushes on women. In 2002, he first started doing stand-up comedy in Maine, and he came out as queer.

“I first came out as queer on stage, people thought that was a punchline,” he said. “I became more comfortable about who I was on stage, started share my story more and more. Two years into my career, I came out as trans on stage, but to the outside world I still looked like a butch dyke. People thought it was my stick, that I was trans.”

He said being able to travel the country doing stand-up meant more people came up to him and told him they could relate to his story. That’s how he came up with the idea of everyone’s a little bit trans, because it wasn’t just those in the trans community telling him this.

“I thought, in the beginning, that I was the only one on the planet that had ever felt this way about their body,” Harvie said. “And then I was in a comedy club in Nashville, Tennessee and some woman came up to me and said ‘you know what, I’ve always had discomfort about my body about my femininity and my shape.’”

Harvie will be sharing his story in the Marshall Student Center Oval Theater on Tuesday. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be reserved at usf.edu/ulsreg.

“It is so important to share our stories with each other because it allows us to feel like we exist,” he said. “We see ourselves in somebody else, we feel as though things are possible.”