Metro Weekly

Jeffrey Tambor denies claims he sexually harassed trans actress on the set of Transparent

Trace Lysette alleges Tambor "leaned his body against me, and began quick, discreet thrusts...against my body"

Jeffrey Tambor in a scene from Transparent

Jeffrey Tambor has denied claims that he sexually harassed two transgender actresses on the set of Amazon’s Transparent.

Amazon is currently conducting an investigation into claims that Tambor propositioned, made lewd comments towards, and groped his former assistant and actress Van Barnes. Barnes made the claims in a private Facebook post.

Tambor rejected the allegations, telling Deadline, “I adamantly and vehemently reject and deny any and all implication and allegation that I have ever engaged in any improper behavior toward this person or any other person I have ever worked with. I am appalled and distressed by this baseless allegation.”

However, a second actress has now made similar claims against Tambor. In a statement posted to Twitter, Trace Lysette says Tambor made lewd sexual remarks towards her, and thrust his penis against her while they were on set together.

In the statement Lysette said she “must add my voice to the chorus. Jeffrey has acted inappropriately with me too.”

During the incident on set, Lysette was wearing a “flimsy top and matching short shorts” for a pajamas scene. “Upon seeing me in my costume, Jeffrey sexualized me with an over the top comment,” Lysette wrote. “Then later, in between takes, I stood in a corner on the set…. Jeffrey approached me. 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 thrusts back and forth against my body.

“I felt his penis on my hip through his thin pajamas and I pushed him off of me.”

Lysette said she “laughed it off and rolled my eyes,” but attributes it to the fact that “compartmentalizing has always been part of my survival tool kit.”

She added: “Given the journey and circumstances of my life, I was used to being treated as a sexual object by men — this one just happened to be famous.”

Trace Lysette at the 68th Emmy Awards, Credit: ABC / Rick Rowell

Lysette claims there were “multiple uncomfortable experiences with Jeffrey,” but that the opportunity afforded by portraying “a low-income trans woman with active roots in New York’s ball culture” was too good of an opportunity to give up. She called it an “incredible, career-solidifying honor to bring to life my character Shea.”

Should Amazon decide to fire Tambor over the accusations, Lysette wants the show to “re-center the other trans characters” instead of canceling it. “Don’t let the trans community suffer for the actions of one cis male actor,” she wrote, adding, “I call on Amazon to make another bold affirmative move to our communities, remove the problem and let the show go on.”

An Amazon spokesperson told Deadline that Lysette’s allegations would be “added to the ongoing investigation, but that Lysette had not made a formal complaint to the studio.

In his response to Lysette’s statement, Tambor refuted that he was a “predator” and claimed his actions had been “misinterpreted.”

“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,” Tambor said. “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,” he continued. “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.”

Transparent creator Jill Soloway has yet to respond to the latest allegations, but issued a statement after Barnes claims came to light saying, “Anything that would diminish the level of respect, safety and inclusion so fundamental to our workplace is completely antithetical to our principles.”

“We are cooperating with the investigation into this matter,” she added.

Deadline reports that there have been “tentative discussions” about writing Tambor’s character out of the show for its fifth season.

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly’s managing editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.