Jeffrey Tambor may not be leaving Transparent after all.
The actor previously said “I don’t see how I can return” to the acclaimed Amazon series, after facing three accusations of sexual misconduct. Two accusers are transgender women from the Transparent universe: his former personal assistant Van Barnes and actress Trace Lysette.
His statement, which condemned the accusations against him as part of “the politicized atmosphere that seems to have afflicted our set,” was interpreted as a declaration of resignation.
However, a representative told The New York Times in a Wednesday article that Tambor actually had no plans to quit at present, leaving the show’s fifth season in limbo.
The accusations rattled the team of Transparent, which helped bring trans issues to the mainstream and employed trans talent both on and off screen. “It was devastating,” former producer Micah Fitzerman-Blue told the Times.
And the news that Tambor might stay on the production has angered and unsettled trans activists.
Dawn Ennis, The Advocate‘s former news editor and a blogger at LifeAfterDawn.com, has used her platform in the past to defend the cisgender actor and his casting as the transgender matriarch Maura — a divisive decision criticized by many as “transface” from the onset.
“I feel duped and betrayed,” said Ennis, who declared, “I can’t fathom how I can watch another episode of Transparent ever again.” The show is now “tainted by Tambor” if he stays, she said.
“I believe his refusal to step aside reveals his utter hubris, cis male privilege, and his complete ignorance of the perils we women actually face,” Ennis said. “There is no award for acting like you really care, when all you’ve done is prove you’re no better than any other cis het dude who lets his dick do all his thinking. I had expected better.”
Ashlee Marie Preston said she was “sickened but not surprised” by the allegations against Tambor. “Sexual abuse and violence at the hands of those we trust, even in the workplace, is part of our narrative,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that it happened off script, out of role, and in a designated safe space meant to empower trans people.”
The trans writer and media personality, who hosts the Shook podcast, called on Transparent to make Tambor leave, if he refuses to do so volunterarily. Otherwise, the production would be complicit in any wrongdoing.
“Jeffrey Tambor had a lucky run, but it’s time for him to go,” Preston said. “The fact that he became the expert on our vulnerabilities through his role and consciously exploited them for his own pleasure makes Jeffrey a predator.”
“Refusing to leave the show is an act of intimidation and subjects those victimized to further violence,” she stated. “Anyone with the authority to remove him that doesn’t is an accessory, and they are actively promoting rape culture.”
In addition to a compromised work environment, Preston warns about the message Tambor’s staying would broadcast to viewers, which would run counter to the show’s spirit.
“It sends the message that trans women aren’t worth protecting,” said Preston. “It breaks the promise to all 24+ trans people who’ve lost their lives [this year] that as a society we will do better.” She also believes that if Lysette and Barnes were cisgender, “the consequences would be heavier.”
In contrast, Tambor’s removal would proclaim that trans “lives matter, that we are believed, and that we are worthy of the dignity and respect the show claims to strive for through its storyline.”