QUEER VOICES

Amy Landecker: Jill Soloway Cast Jeffrey Tambor In 'Transparent' Because He Resembles Her Father

In spite of the critical accolades, "Transparent" showrunner Jill Soloway's been under scrutiny lately for casting Jeffrey Tambor, a cisgender man, in the part of Maura Pfefferman, a trans woman. In a HuffPost Live interview on Monday, actress Amy Landecker admitted that she could see why the casting choice would be "frustrating" for the trans community, but defended Soloway's decision.

"She casts from a very personal place," the actress told host Josh Zepps. Soloway has a trans father of her own, and "in her mind, she would see Jeffrey through the years and he reminded her of her father and I think she felt very deeply that he was the right actor for this part."

Landecker, who plays Maura's eldest daughter in the Amazon series, thinks Tambor's "stunning performance" and "compassionate" portrayal deserves much of the credit for the show's success, and stands by the show's casting.

"This show is great in large part because of him," she said. "And I think what Jill tried to do -- look, the truth is: he's one of the greatest actors, he wanted to play this, she [Soloway] feels connected to him, [and the character's] also pre-transition when we start the show."

Tambor is the only cisgender actor featured in a trans role on the show. Trans actors Ian Harvie and Alexandra Billings also star, and Landecker mentioned many of the show's writers and camera operators were also trans.

"She [Soloway] had a commitment though in all the areas of production to feel like she is including the trans community, and it's hired the most trans actors of any show that's ever been done on television," she said.

The actress also touched upon how "Transparent" could literally save lives, comparing it to how "Will & Grace" attempted to normalize gay culture for people in the nineties. See the video below for more.

Watch the rest of Amy Landecker's conversation with HuffPost Live here. Sign up here for Live Today, HuffPost Live's new morning email that will let you know the newsmakers, celebrities and politicians joining us that day and give you the best clips from the day before!

HuffPost

BEFORE YOU GO

  • A person's identity is their own to decide
    If someone tells you they are a “he”, a “she”, a “they” (which some genderqueer people opt for), use that pronoun. Some peopl
    DaveBleasdale/Flickr
    If someone tells you they are a “he”, a “she”, a “they” (which some genderqueer people opt for), use that pronoun. Some people might even refer to themselves as an “it”, but definitely avoid this unless a person has specifically asked. You do not decide a person's identity, they do, both because it’s their right and because they are the only people that can ever truly know. Respect their wishes without question.
  • If you're unsure how to refer to someone, just ask
    If you really don't know, the best option is to just ask. Dancing around the subject can be irritating for a transgender pers
    Matiluba/Flickr
    If you really don't know, the best option is to just ask. Dancing around the subject can be irritating for a transgender person. Think of it like asking someone’s name: until you ask what it is, it’s fine for you to not know! If you’ve not had an opportunity to ask yet, “they” is a good general purpose pronoun to go for. Definitely don’t resort to “it”, “she-he”, “he-she” etc. as most people find these names horribly degrading.
  • Be careful when talking about the past
    When you're referring to things in the past, never say things like "when you were x gender", or "born a man/woman". Most tran
    jasonepowell/Flickr
    When you're referring to things in the past, never say things like "when you were x gender", or "born a man/woman". Most transgender people feel like they have always been the gender they have come out to you as, but needed to come to terms with it in their own way. Instead refer to the past without referencing gender, for example, "last year", or "when you were a child".
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions
    Each person is different, so won’t want to talk about it at all, whereas some might enjoy the opportunity to discuss it. The
    Eleaf/Flickr
    Each person is different, so won’t want to talk about it at all, whereas some might enjoy the opportunity to discuss it. The worst thing you can do is be awkward about it; just ask them if they want to talk about it! At the same time, don’t ask questions that would be strange to ask a cis person. Transgender people and cis people should be treated the same – don’t start conversations about their bodies, for example, that wouldn't be normal to discuss with your cis friends.
  • Forget stereotypes
    Never call out a transgender person for behaviour which isn’t stereotypical for their identified gender, for example, if your
    kristin_a (Meringue Bake Shop)/Flickr
    Never call out a transgender person for behaviour which isn’t stereotypical for their identified gender, for example, if your trans-woman friend decides she doesn’t feel more comfortable in trousers sometimes. Gender identity is much more than just the things people do and the way they dress, but it’s not uncommon for transgender people to feel pressured into following stereotypes to “prove” themselves to their friends.
  • Respect their privacy
    This one should be obvious, but <em>never</em> out someone unless they’ve made it clear they are openly transgender. It’s up
    anna gutermuth/Flickr
    This one should be obvious, but never out someone unless they’ve made it clear they are openly transgender. It’s up to the individual to decide when they are comfortable coming out to people, and it is possible for them to be out to some people, but not others, so don’t assume that because they’ve come out to you there’s a free pass to tell everyone about it.
  • It's okay to make mistakes
    Although it is important you try your best to respect a person’s identity, you are only human – if you've known your friend a
    opensourceway/Flickr
    Although it is important you try your best to respect a person’s identity, you are only human – if you've known your friend a long time, you'll likely have a lot of habits to break, including a change of name, pronouns, etc. As long as you’re trying, transgender people normally don’t mind. Sometimes they might point out that you’ve messed up, and that’s fine. When they do, measure the tone of their voice: if they are annoyed about it, calmly say sorry and try to ensure it doesn’t happen again. But equally, if they seem happy, don’t make a massive deal of it.
  • Cross-dressing
    A cross-dresser is just someone who dresses in clothes stereotypically associated with the opposite gender: cross-dressing do
    twicepix/Flickr
    A cross-dresser is just someone who dresses in clothes stereotypically associated with the opposite gender: cross-dressing does not imply anything about a person’s gender. Eddie Izzard, for example, is a straight cis male who loves his makeup and dresses. Don’t say a cross-dresser dresses in “women’s clothes” or “men’s clothes” – if a male likes to wear dresses that he owns, he’s wearing a man’s dress because they are his. And do not assume that a person's gender correlates with their sexuality - it doesn't.
  • Get the terms right
    Try to avoid the term <strong>'transvestite'</strong> as no one knows what it means. Technically, it just means <strong>'cros
    .reid./Flickr
    Try to avoid the term 'transvestite' as no one knows what it means. Technically, it just means 'cross-dresser', but it has been misused for a while now. 'Sex' is what body you have whereas 'gender' refers to a person’s identity. Other than the fact it is fairly common for a person’s gender to match their sex ('cis'), the two things are otherwise completely unrelated. 'Genderqueer' is a broad term that covers people that don’t fit into the stereotypical gender binary – that may be because they don’t feel they have a gender at all, they feel that they fit into another, third, gender or that they flit between those options, making them 'genderfluid'. 'Transgender' is someone who identifies with a gender other than their birth-assigned sex. A 'Transsexual' is someone who has physically changed their sex.
  • Don't know? Don't worry!
    If you see someone out in public and you can’t figure out what gender they are, just don’t worry about it! Definitely don’t h
    @Doug88888/Flickr
    If you see someone out in public and you can’t figure out what gender they are, just don’t worry about it! Definitely don’t have a loud conversation discussing what “they might be”, and absolutely don’t try to peek under their skirt or into their shirt to see what 'parts' they’ve got. Yes, some transgender people really do have to put up with that sort of thing.
CONVERSATIONS