Jeffrey Tambor Just Used His Emmys Speech To Make A Big Stand For Trans Representation
"Give them their stories!"
Jeffrey Tambor has just taken out the award for Best Comedy Actor at today’s Emmys. Beating Aziz Ansari from Master of None, Will Forte from Last Man on Earth and more, Tambor’s win for portraying transgender woman Maura Pfefferman on Transparent is his second in a row. And, though he dedicated his 2015 win to the transgender community, he’s now gone one step further. This morning he used his acceptance speech to advocate directly for the transgender community and fire a big ol’ shot at the TV industry.
“To you people out there, you producers and you network owners and you agents and you creative sparks, please give transgender talent a chance,” he said. “Give them auditions. Give them their stories. Do that. Also, one more thing: I would not be unhappy were I the last cisgender male to a female transgender on television. We have work to do. I love you.”
— Good Morning America (@GMA) September 19, 2016
Tambor’s speech comes off the back of a great deal of anger from the trans community about their representation on screen — namely the persisting practice of cis male actors portraying trans women. Though these concerns have been raised for a number of years and are ongoing, they received a lot of mainstream attention after the announcement last month that Magic Mike XXL star Matt Bomer would be playing a trans sex worker in the upcoming Mark Ruffalo-produced film Anything.
The casting decision was labelled by many as indicative of an industry increasingly interested in trans stories, yet hostile to trans talent and oblivious to the real-world problems these representations can create. Trans actress Jen Richards succinctly broke down the latter argument here (it’s definitely worth a proper read).
Though Transparent employs a great number of transgender people both on- and off-screen, it hasn’t been immune from this kind of criticism. The show is, after all, centred upon Jeffrey Tambor’s portrayal of a trans woman; and Tambor has always been open to this criticism. In our interview with him last year, he remained apprehensive about the situation and described himself as an “ally”.
“I don’t know what it’s like to be trans; that would be blasphemy,” he said. “I know what it’s like to enact the trans experience, and I know what it’s like to feel the other-ising. At the end of the day, I — as a cisgender male — take off my makeup and I take off my persona and I am daddy Tambor, cisgender male. I don’t feel what [trans people] feel, but I think I am an ally. To pretend I’m anything more, I would be uncomfortable with that.”
Tambor’s views seem to have become stronger since then. His comments on-stage today have also been foreshadowed during the press circuit for the show’s upcoming third season over the past week.
— Kira Lerner (@kira_lerner) September 14, 2016
Meanwhile, back at the Emmys, Transparent series creator Jill Soloway (who looked fairly ecstatic at the end of Tambor’s speech) has also just taken out the award for Best Director of a comedy series.
“Thank you to the trans community for your lived lives,” she said in her speech. “We need to stop violence against transgender women and topple the patriarchy. Topple the patriarchy!”.
It’ll be a meme in no time.