T.J. Miller (right) with his wife Kate Credit: Mandee Johnson

T.J. Miller, who trained as a comic in Chicago, is being accused of sending a transphobic email to current Chicagoan Danielle Soltzman, who runs the movie review site Solzy at the Movies. In early August, she wrote Miller to politely point out the distasteful term “Tranny Dumpster Sex” embedded in his website’s metadata. Then she found herself at the receiving end of a missive from the self-proclaimed absurdist.

“You have merely confirmed what I already knew . . . This pursuit of transgender identity is nothing more than an opportunity for you to distinguish yourself as someone who is special,” he writes, “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.”

Solzman says she certainly wasn’t expecting anything resembling that response, having previously considered Miller a trusted ally. The two became acquainted in 2008, when Miller happily comped Solzman to his show at the Lakeshore Theater (now the location of the Laugh Factory). The two fell into a circle of friends that included Second City touring company members, and after Solzman moved to Louisville in 2010, the posse shared emails back-and-forth.

In 2015, Solzman came out in one of those group chains. “I can’t go shopping at stores without having the urge to try on women’s clothing or think how it would look on me,” she wrote as Daniel Solzman. “And all those bigots who think this is a choice can suck it. It’s not a choice. We’re wired one way or another. The only choice I made was to repress Danielle but I can’t go on doing that much longer.”

After receiving the email, “That day, if not the next day, [Miller] shared one of my older photos on Facebook saying, ‘This person’s my hero,'” Solzman says.

Solzman originally posted the note in August but blurred out Miller’s name for fear of repercussions. She says that, in hindsight, his pent-up aggression could be attributed to the critical lampooning of The Emoji Movie, in which Miller starred. Though Solzman refused to write about the film, other critics did, including Uproxx‘s Mike Ryan. His piece elicited an extreme response from Miller, which included more than 13 direct messages.

On The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Miller mocked a review from the Sioux City Journal who took Miller’s whimsical 2017 HBO special Meticulously Ridiculous at face value. This gentle ribbing is far from the palpable vitriol of his email to Solzman, demonstrating what the Reader‘s Brianna Wellen wrote in 2016: “T.J. Miller blurs the line between laughing and cringing.”