Of all the men emerging from the shadows of #MeToo allegations, Jeffrey Tambor has remained relatively unscathed. The actor, who played a transgender woman on Amazon’s Transparent, was fired from the show in February after former assistant Van Barnes and co-star Trace Lysette — both trans women — accused him of sexual harassment.
Nevertheless, Tambor returned to the set of Arrested Development for Netflix’s fifth season of the show; on a press tour to promote it, he participated in a New York Times interview that revealed his history of verbal abuse toward co-star Jessica Walter on set. And yet, his male co-stars relentlessly defended him.
Why has Tambor escaped the public vitriol designated for Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, et al.? In a Variety’s roundtable of transgender actors, Lysette and Jen Richards, an activist and actor who has appeared on Caitlyn Jenner’s I Am Cait, discussed. According to Richards, “it’s because his accusers were primarily trans women.”
When asked whether she is surprised that Tambor is still getting roles, Lysette said:
No, because we’re trans. I’m used to people not wanting to believe us and being at the bottom of the totem pole. So our word doesn’t carry weight the same way.
Richards commended Lysette for her “extraordinary bravery” in speaking out against Tambor. The actresses, who were joined by another Transparent star, Alexandra Billings, as well as Laverne Cox, Chaz Bono, and Brian Michael, also discussed the shifting tides of trans representation in media, particularly with Ryan Murphy’s new FX show Pose.
When Lysette and Billings were asked whether they’ll be on Transparent’s upcoming fifth season, sans-Tambor, Billings replied, “You’re damn right we are.”