Almost two years after going public with allegations of sexual harassment against Jeffrey Tambor, his former Transparent co-star Trace Lysette describes coming forward as “one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make.”
Following an internal investigation, Amazon announced that Tambor would not be returning to the show. Reports focused on the allegations made by Jeffrey Tambor’s former assistant, Van Barnes, as well as Lysette, but speaking on this week’s episode of The Advocate’s LGBTQ&A podcast, the trans actress and advocate emphasizes the lack of reporting on the other women who came forward.
“I think a lot of people don’t know that there were hours on hours of investigation that went on after my public testimony and Van Barnes’ public testimony, and then Rain Valdez after me, and Tamara Delbridge, I think was the makeup artist on another set. So it often gets reduced to just Van and I. But it was actually four women and the investigation that Amazon conducted concluded that, Okay, he’s got to go.”
Lysette describes how intense the “hours and hours” of questions was and says, “I think that a lot of times people don’t understand the bravery that’s involved with the Me Too movement.”
Despite allegations made by these women or his history of yelling at colleagues, Tambor has continued to work. Lysette points to the trans identity of three of the accusers as the reason. “Our word doesn’t really carry the same weight as cis women.”
After coming forward, Lysette was faced with smear pieces and wondered if she would ever act again, a fear that was amplified as she struggled to find work in the year that immediately followed. Lysette ultimately lost her health insurance that year after she didn’t book enough work to qualify for the insurance offered by the Screen Actor’s Guild.
“I think that we need to be conscious and intentional about hiring women who have come forward. Because that’s the only way we break that cycle.”
The actress can currently be seen in the blockbuster movie, Hustlers, as well as the Transparent musical finale. As her career experiences an upswing, Lysette is trying to find the lesson in it all. “It was scary,” she says, but “I knew I couldn’t look back in 10 years and be like, ‘Oh, you were a coward. You just didn’t say anything.'”
The Transparent finale premieres on September 27 on Amazon.