Earlier this week, T.J. Miller was accused of sexually assaulting and punching a woman in college. Now, just two days later, the former Silicon Valley star is facing accusations of being transphobic.
These new allegations stem from an email received by film critic Danielle Solzman. Solzman, a contributing writer for Consequence of Sound and a member of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle, first befriended Miller at various comedy clubs in Illinois and even came out as transgender to him two years ago. Miller had initially been supportive of her and her transitioning process, but after Solzman pointed out what she described as an “offensive” transphobic joke on The Emoji Movie actor’s website, his tune seemed to change drastically.
In a heated email to Solzman, Miller referred to her as “Daniel”, a “weird strange little man” and “a fucking asshole.” He claimed Solzman came out as transgender merely for attention, and also is shocked that he — someone who lent her his support from the very beginning — would be called offensive.
“You have merely confirmed what I always knew… This pursuit of transgender identity is nothing more than an opportunity for you to distinguish yourself as someone who is special, but what is really special is how retarded it is that you would ever think to attack me or say that I’ve been offensive.”
“Never contact me again you weird strange terrible man,” Miller continued. “If you were bothered to look into anything that I’ve ever done you would find it not only have I had sex with transgender people, but I have donated widely to organizations that support their freedom.”
“You’re not a transgender, you’re not a tranny — you’re a fucking asshole Daniel. A fucking asshole.” He later added, “For so long I felt pity for you, felt sorry for you, and looked for ways that I could support you… You always wanted to be little, to be a victim. Well you are now. You’re little to nothing to me at least.”
Solzman originally posted the email on Twitter back in September, but purposely left out Miller’s identity. However, following the sexual misconduct allegations this week, she chose to name him publicly.
This morning Solzman spoke to CoS further about the incident. In particular, she discussed whether Miller had previously shown other transphobic tendencies and how his comments could never be misconstrued as comedy. Solzman also talked about transphobia in the TV/film industry.
Prior to receiving this email, had you gotten any other indications that Miller might be transphobic?
In my years of knowing TJ, I didn’t see any indication of him being transphobic. He was one of the first people I came out to as transgender from within the small Chicago comedy circle of friends that I stayed in touch with over the years. The day I came out or the day after, he shared a pic of mine on his Facebook to say that I was his hero.
Just to play devil’s advocate… what would you say to people who might chalk up his comments to some kind of misunderstood, extreme form of comedy? Or some poor choice of words in a heat-of-the-moment kind of situation? He certainly has a unique personality/brand of humor.
I have a background in comedy, having taken improv classes at the Second City Training Center. There’s nothing remotely funny about the comments that he made. I am very aware of Emoji Movie getting slammed by film critics earlier that week. I’m certainly not a psychologist so I can’t speculate as to his mental state of being during that week. I do know that he also went after another film critic, Mike Ryan, via Twitter DMs on the same day that he responded to my email. This was confirmed on Twitter yesterday.
Miller said not to contact him again. Have you? If you could speak to him right now, what would you say about the whole situation?
I’ve not contacted him since. I cut him out of my life. I blocked him from sending emails and I blocked him on social media. It wasn’t until things started coming out of Austin and elsewhere in September in which I decided that I needed to public about the transphobic abuse. This was two weeks before the floodgates opened with the Harvey Weinstein story. I spoke to The Hollywood Reporter and ultimately, they felt it was too private/personal of a story to run.
I have zero interest in speaking with TJ ever again.
Would you say this Miller situation is an isolated incident in your line of work? What’s your general impression of the TV/film industry’s views regarding the transgender community?
I’ve dealt with transphobic hate as I’ve built up a following. When John Barrowman pulled a transphobic stunt at Comic Con, I’ve never seen so much hatred pointed at me in my life. Barrowman tried to make a statement in support of the new Doctor Who being female but when a cisgender gay male says he is the transgender TARDIS, it re-enforces a negative stereotype that transgender women are men.
I’ve gotten transphobic hatred in response to a review of The Layover from a super fan of one of the actresses in the film. While the response to going public has been generally positive, there have been the haters and thanks to TERF Blocker, I don’t have to deal with the transphobes and TERFs who deny my identity as a woman.
My general impression is that while the tide is turning, there’s still work to be done with increasing transgender representation in both TV and film. There were two films to premiere in 2017 with a trans woman in a leading role: And Then There Was Eve and A Fantastic Woman. Eve is still looking for a buyer and you can rest assured that I’ll be supporting this film in anyway that I can. As for A Fantastic Woman, I’m elated that I can consider a film with a trans actress in a leading role when it comes to my awards nominations.