Alexandra Billings, the trans actress who has played a trans woman in Amazon’s groundbreaking drama series Transparent, has blasted The Hollywood Reporter‘s recent article about the Jeffery Tambor sexual harassment claims. In the article, Tambor, the show’s 73-year-old lead actor, denied two trans women’s accusations that he sexually harassed them. Billings has since called the interview “slut-shaming,” “biased,” ‘unkind” and “blatantly transphobic.”
Billings criticized The Hollywood Reporter‘s article for “[lauding Tambor] with praise for his artistic work and his bravery in enduring these accusations, through stalwart texts and tearful mini-breakdowns in front of the reporter.”
Meanwhile, she says, the career accomplishments and professionalism of Tambor’s two accusers — a female co-star, Trace Lysette, and Tambor’s former assistant, Van Barnes — were overshadowed by the interview’s details characterizing Lysette as a once-suicidal former stripper and Barnes as having “a raunchy sense of humor” and being the “dirtiest fucking talker in the world.”
Billings writes, “This is the crux of this article: two cisgender white men sitting at a table, slut-shaming women who faced sexual harassment, except this time the women happen to be trans. And these comments about and this treatment of two accomplished humans is not only biased and unkind; it is blatantly transphobic.”
In the interview, Tambor denied the accusations against him: “I did raise my voice at times, I was moody at times, there were times when I was tactless. But as for the other [sexual accusations], absolutely not.”
Tambor also said he thought that the sexual harassment accusations came about from trans people who disliked his being a cisgender actor in a trans role.
Alexandra Billings, who claims to have witnessed one of Tambor’s sexually harassing comments against Lysette, says, “Let me state this without any equivocation whatsoever: I believe every single word that both Ms. Lysette and Ms. Barnes said in their public statements about Mr. Tambor’s vile and abhorrent behavior. They are not the ones who are lying. That is what I believe to be true.”
These Jeffery Tambor sexual harassment allegations are especially salient considering the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found 47% of transgender people are sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime. Tambor is also the first media figure publicly accused of sexual harassment in the #MeToo era who is set to make a comeback — in an upcoming acting gig for Netflix’s fifth season of the sitcom Arrested Development.
“I don’t know of any other man who has been accused of these charges and yet who is simply moving on to the next job. Not one other man. But, you see, this man harassed transwomen, and that makes a difference,” Billings writes. “If Trace and Van were cisgender women, and Jeffrey Tambor had been accused of sexually harassing them, what would be different?”