Trans actress Alexandra Billings says her Transparent co-star Jeffrey Tambor got off easy on allegations of sexual harassment because his victims were transgender.
In November, Trace Lysette, who appeared on the Amazon series, and Van Barnes, Tambor’s former assistant, publicly accused the Emmy winner of sexual misconduct.
The allegations, which the actor initially denied, sparked an internal investigation by the studio and and eventually led to Tambor, who played the lead role of Maura Pfefferman, being nixed from the popular series.
However, Tambor, unlike other Hollywood megastars accused of sexual assault, hasn’t been completely exiled: He’s slated to appear in three upcoming films and the next season of Arrested Development, which arrives on Netflix May 29.
In an op-ed for The Huffington Post, Billings says Tambor wouldn’t got a pass if his alleged victims were cisgender.
“His comments about and this treatment of two accomplished humans is not only biased and unkind; it is blatantly transphobic,” she wrote. “Take our history out of this situation. Separate our transness from the harassment: If Trace and Van were cisgender women, and Jeffrey Tambor had been accused of sexually harassing them, what would be different?”
Billings recounted the first time she heard Tambor make lewd comments on set.
[Tambor] turned to Trace, who was in costume in a bathrobe and pajamas, and said, “God, Trace. I just want to attack you. Sexually.”
I laughed. And then Trace laughed… But Trace and I knew this was wrong and this was a line that shouldn’t be crossed. If we’d all worked in an office and the boss (which the lead on a TV show certainly is) said something this inappropriate, we’d have gone to HR.
Now, Billings is demanding that the concerns of trans people be considered with the same weight as those from cis victims. “All of my trans brothers and sisters are rioting as well. We will not be discounted anymore. We are not a punchline and we are not a target. Not anymore.”
“No matter what happens with Jeffrey, a man I admired, loved, laughed with and stood next to for four years, my community will survive,” she added. “This is how we were born, from the center of the universe and the edges of infinity. We have lasted and we will continue.”