Trace Lysette is the second woman to come forward with allegations of sexual harassment against Transparent star Jeffrey Tambor. Lysette plays Shea, a trans yoga instructor who befriends Maura, the trans woman played by Tambor. The Trace Lysette harassment occurred while the pair were shooting a popular scene from Season 2.
Lysette says that before filming, when Tambor saw her costume for the scene, a lingerie top and short shorts, he said, “My God, Trace. I want to attack you sexually.” Lysette says that she and Alexandra Billings, the other actor in the scene, “laughed it off because it was so absurd.”
A few minutes later, waiting for a camera setup, she says Tambor approached her. “He came in close, put his bare feet on top of mine so I could not move, leaned his body against me, and began quick, discreet thrust back and forth against my body. I felt his penis on my hip through his thin pajamas.”
She says she pushed him away. Billings wasn’t present for this incident. Lysette says that though a number of crewmembers were nearby, “They were focused on their jobs. It was discreet. If you were behind Jeffrey you might have thought he was giving me a hug.”
Last week, Tambor’s former assistant Van Barnes accused Tambor of acting “inappropriately” in a private post on Facebook. Both Barnes and Lysette are openly trans.
According to Barnes’ lawyer, Alana Chazan, Barnes cannot comment on Lysette’s allegations. Barnes signed a non-disclosure agreement while working for Tambor.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Barnes’ Facebook post alleges an unnamed employer — assumed to be Tambor — made comments like she should sleep with him to get promoted. The employer also patted her on the rear and played pornography at high volume.
Lysette and Barnes shared a house when Barnes was working for Tambor. Lysette said:
She would pick him up in the morning and bring him home at night and everything in between. She would come home wrecked and stressed. I saw him break her down. She, for the most part, kept it to herself. She was just like, ‘Girl, he is a piece of work. If you only knew what I’m going through.’ But I knew.
Tambor issued a statement about Lysette’s allegations:
For the past four years, I’ve had the huge privilege — and huge responsibility — of playing Maura Pfefferman, a transgender woman, in a show that I know has had an enormous, positive impact on a community that has been too long dismissed and misunderstood. Now I find myself accused of behavior that any civilized person would condemn unreservedly.
I know I haven’t always been the easiest person to work with. I can be volatile and ill-tempered, and too often I express my opinions harshly and without tact. But I have never been a predator — ever. I am deeply sorry if any action of mine was ever misinterpreted by anyone as being sexually aggressive or if I ever offended or hurt anyone. But the fact is, for all my flaws, I am not a predator and the idea that someone might see me in that way is more distressing than I can express.
Amazon Studios is currently investigating the claims against Tambor. Yesterday, the news came that Tambor is reportedly being written out of season 5.