In this episode of Recover Girl, Ian Harvie joined me on my couch to talk about his childhood in rural Maine, his journey to discovering his true gender identity, his recovery from alcoholism, and his new life in sobriety as a trans comic.

About Ian:

Ian Harvie is the groundbreaking transgender stand-up comedian whom you may have seen in the Golden Globe and Emmy Award winning TV series TRANSPARENT on Amazon. Ian has also guest starred as ”Michael” on the ABC soapy, nighttime drama, MISTRESSES; as “Chris” on YOUNG AND HUNGRY; and as himself on COMEDY CENTRAL’s THE NIGHTLY SHOW WITH LARRY WILMORE. Most recently, Harvie filmed his one-hour standup comedy special MAY THE BEST COCK WIN and released the audio on iTunes.

Ian Harvey’s Addiction Recovery

Ian grew up in the 70’s in what he described as a Stephen King’s “Stand by Me” environment. Back then, kids were allowed to roam free and get into trouble. The older kids in the neighborhood stole liquor from their parents and brought it to party with in the woods. For the older kids, it was funny to watch the little kids drink. Ian was only eight or nine years old when he first fell in love with alcohol and he sought after it ever since.

Ian’s drinking became so out of control in college that the Dean personally offered to buy him a bus ticket to leave the school. Ian’s confusion over his identity fed his alcoholism, but he discovered that this was not why he drank. Even when he thought he had it all figured out, he continued to routinely drink to the point of alcohol poisoning.

Luckily a friend in recovery noticed him struggling and offered to take him to a meeting. After two relapses, he never went back to the bottle.

I was obsessed with booze from 6 or 7 years old.

Some Questions I Ask:

  • Let’s talk theme, because it is such a theme of recovery, how many lives have you had? (00:50)
  • You began drinking around 8 or 9 years old. How’d you do it? (11:29)
  • Where AA sobriety chips started. (17:11)
  • What’s your sober date? (18:23)
  • Did you always want to be a comic after the musician dream faded? (22:04)
  • When do you make your way to LA? (24:16)
  • When did you start transitioning (gender)? (31:53)
  • When did Transparent come about, and how? (36:55)
  • What’s next? (43:20)

Things You’ll Learn About Ian:

  • Ian’s first dream of wanting to be an artist/musician. (01:04)
  • How Ian burned his best friend’s dorm room down. (02:50)
  • How he was invited to leave college if he didn’t get his drinking under control (07:43)
  • How discovering he was queer still did not cure his drinking problem. (08:10)
  • How his mom and dad got custody of the best girlfriend he was in love with. (10:19)
  • How Ian got into recovery by his “psychic” friend. (15:45)
  • Ian’s other life as a web developer and hosting provider. (22:05)
  • Why Ian believes everyone is trans. (29:43)


I don’t let myself say ‘no’ to myself anymore.