Jeffrey Tambor, who played trans woman Maura Pfefferman on Amazon’s celebrated Jill Soloway show Transparent, announced Sunday that he would not be returning for the next season, Deadline reports. Tambor has been accused of sexual harassment by his former assistant Van Barnes and actress and series regular Trace Lysette; both are transgender women. The actor has denied the allegations, but the show’s writers were reportedly already trying to find a way to write his character out of the show, and momentum for that approach seemed to be building: On Saturday, Our Lady J, a trans writer and producer on Transparent, publicly backed Tambor’s accusers and endorsed Lysette’s proposed solution of continuing without their lead actor, writing, “We cannot let trans content be taken down by a single cis man.”
Now, Tambor has preemptively taken himself out of the equation. He explained his reasoning to Deadline:
Playing Maura Pfefferman on Transparent has been one of the greatest privileges and creative experiences of my life. What has become clear over the past weeks, however, is that this is no longer the job I signed up for four years ago. I’ve already made clear my deep regret if any action of mine was ever misinterpreted as aggressive, but the idea that I would deliberately harass anyone is simply and utterly untrue. Given the politicized atmosphere that seems to have afflicted our set, I don’t see how I can return to Transparent.
There’s a small difference between “I quit,” and “I don’t see how I can return,” which Deadline speculates may be for legal reasons. Soloway wouldn’t comment on the allegations against Tambor on Saturday, citing the ongoing investigation Amazon is conducting.
Tambor is neither the first nor the biggest star to be caught up in the ongoing sexual harassment scandal, nor is he the first to issue a “you didn’t fire me, I quit,” statement—Brett Ratner did that when leaving Warner Bros. But the nature of the allegations against Tambor—harassing trans women while playing a groundbreaking role in bringing their stories to television—has made this corner of the scandal particularly fraught. Amazon has not yet officially announced a fifth season of Transparent, but was expected to schedule it for next year, at least until recent developments. The show has won eight Emmy awards, including two Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series wins for Jeffrey Tambor.