Transparent actress Alexandra Billings has criticised Jeffrey Tambor’s return to screens in Arrested Development.
Tambor starred on Transparent as ageing trans woman Maura Pfefferman, but was fired earlier this year after allegations that he made sexual advances towards co-star Trace Lysette and sexually harassed ex-assistant Van Barnes.
Both accusers are transgender.
However, while other men accused of sexual harassment have been essentially blacklisted in Hollywood, Tambor is making a return to screens in Netflix series Arrested Development, while several actors have publicly defended him.
Writing for Huffington Post, transgender actress Alexandra Billings, who plays Davina on Transparent, hit out at the double standards around the issue.
She made clear: “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.”
Billings confirmed she had witnessed inappropriate behaviour from Tambor, recalling “a statement made by Jeffrey to Trace in Season 1 as we all sat around the kitchen table.”
“He turned to Trace, who was in costume in a bathrobe and pajamas, and said, ‘God, Trace. I just want to attack you. Sexually.'”
The actress also responded to a recent Hollywood Reporter profile of Tambor, written by Seth Abramovitch.
Billings questioned why Tambor, who continues to deny sexual harassment, was portrayed as a repentant family man in the piece, while at the same time it brought up lurid aspects of Lysette and Barnes’ personal lives.
She wrote: “While Jeffrey is lauded 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, Lysette’s decadelong professional acting career is erased. The fact that she took a one-off walk-on job on Transparent and turned it into a recurring guest star role… is treated as secondary to her stripper life.
“And Barnes’ ability to assist Mr. Tambor, do her job, be punctual, responsible and, above all, private, is overshadowed by the reporter’s quoting unnamed sources about her off-color sense of humor.”
“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.”
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Responding to Tambor’s return to work for Arrested Development, she added: “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.
“This man treated these transwomen the way most males treat us: like a fetish. Disposable. Amusing. Sexy. Replaceable.
“If Trace and Van were cisgender women, and Jeffrey Tambor had been accused of sexually harassing them, what would be different?”
Elsewhere this week, Transparent creator Jill Soloway faced questions after it emerged that she and her sister Faith Soloway had both sent supportive private messages to Tambor when the allegations against him first broke.
The two Soloway sisters, neither of whom are transgender, had sent private messages to Tambor appearing to voice suspicion that the accusers were a part of a “coup” seeking to oust the actor from the part because he was a male actor playing a trans woman.
Faith Soloway, who is a writer and producer on the show, wrote to Tambor: “We are in a coup. You are fucking fantastic. You have changed the world. We have changed the world. We will get through this. Love, love, love, Faith.”
Meanwhile Jill Soloway told him: “They have been after Maura from the beginning.”
It was recently confirmed that Transparent will return for one more season, without Tambor, to wrap up the remaining story. It is unclear if Billings or Lysette will be involved.