"I honestly thought I was finished with this type of bullying after high school and college but once again I found myself 34, depressed, and fantasizing about taking my own life."
Billie Lee has not had the easiest time trying to enmesh herself into the "Vanderpump Rules" ensemble over the past two seasons, and now she's done trying. The reality star announced via her personal blog that she is leaving the Bravo series over what she calls bullying the likes of which she hadn't experienced since high school or college.
She further opened up about having experienced suicidal thoughts prior to moving to Los Angeles in her younger years, and found those thoughts resurfacing as a result of the treatment she said she had to endure as part of the show.
"The bullying on and off-camera brought my deep insecurities to the surface," she admitted. "The reflection of fear and anger led me back to depression and suicidal thoughts. I honestly thought I was finished with this type of bullying after high school and college but once again I found myself 34, depressed, and fantasizing about taking my own life."
She claims that several of her coworkers went out of their way to exclude her from shared experiences and one went so far as to try and have her fired "because he didn’t feel comfortable working with [her]" because she's transgender.
According to Lee, the unnamed man said, "I’m not gonna lose all I have worked hard for for something stupid I may say or do to offend her. Are we all supposed to tiptoe around her because she’s trans?"
"Like most men during the #MeToo movement he was so afraid of saying the wrong thing that he just wanted me gone," Lee summed up her take on the man's reaction to her presence.
But it wasn't all negative for Lee, who had nothing but praise for SUR restaurant owners Nathalie and Guillermo Zapata, as well as Lisa Vanderpump herself. "I’m also grateful for Lisa, your encouragement and blessing to move forward with this new chapter of mine means the world to me," she wrote.
She promised projects of her own that will see fruition in 2020, including involvement with Reginex in an anti-bullying campaign and continued work with Equality CA in the battle for trans rights, where she intends to work with GLSEN helping make safe spaces for LGBTQ+ youth in schools.
"Every day is an opportunity to take back your dream, to embrace your journey and live the life you’ve always wanted," she concluded her essay. "You are never too old or ‘too gay’ and it’s never too late to start over."
Lee has had friction with members of the cast almost since joining the show. Early on she felt slighted when she was excluded from a SUR staff "girls night in." Both in person and on Twitter, she accused the ladies of being "anti-trans" and said their oversight was a perfect example of "cis privilege."
She felt particularly attacked when Stassi Schroeder went on Jenny McCarthy's Sirius XM show and essentially said she wished Lee would just go away.
"I have a deep love for her. It's hard for us because we're very similar because we like to attack, but she's been through a lot, and I get it," Lee said.
"But she's been there for me," she continued. "I had some really dark times where I mentally had some issues where my mental heath wasn't there, and it brought me back to suicidal thoughts from when I was 16. It was just a really hard time to -- I felt like I was in high school all over again. It was a lot of triggers. Honestly, she was the one person that was really there for me. Her and Ariana [Madix] and Tom [Sandoval] really stepped up, so I have a lot of love for her, and I think that we have a great relationship in the future."
"Vanderpump Rules" is in the midst of filming its eighth season. While it's not completely clear, it appears that Lee will be quitting the show in the middle of the upcoming season.
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