In an emotional blog post, Bravo star Billie Lee has announced she is leaving "Vanderpump Rules" and Lisa Vanderpump's West Hollywood restaurant at the center of the show, saying she experienced "bullying" because she's a transgender woman.
"During my time at SUR, I met some of the most wonderful people, a few in particular that I now call family," Lee wrote in the post, titled "Two Week Notice." "... But with good always comes evil. Some of my coworkers were threatened by my differences, going out of their way to exclude me."
Lee wrote that one co-worker, whom she did not identify, demanded that she be fired from the show.
"His exact words were, 'I'm not gonna loose (sic) all I have worked hard for for something stupid I may say or do to offend her. Are we all supposed to tip toe around her because she's trans?'" Lee wrote. "Like most men during the #MeToo movement, he was so afraid of saying the wrong thing that he just wanted me gone."
Lee also wrote that this wasn't the first time she'd felt bullied and discriminated against, noting a previous experience as an intern at an unnamed small news station. She wrote she was denied a reporter position when the internship ended, allegedly for being "too feminine" or "'too gay" for the area she worked in.
"I tried everything," Lee said. "Shaving my head, wearing suits, even deepening my voice, but I was still denied my dream job. Every time I was forced to be masculine, the suicidal thoughts would follow."
She later moved to Los Angeles, eventually working at SUR and becoming a part of "Vanderpump Rules." She wrote that the bullying she said she experienced at SUR reminded her of her past.
"The bullying on and off camera brought my deep insecurities to the surface, this dark black mirror held up high for everyone in public to see and to judge," Lee wrote. "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."
Lee said she started journaling and attaching herself to "anything and everything positive" in an attempt to cope, but finally realized that SUR was no longer right for her. While many tried to convince her to stay for at least another year, she wrote, she decided to leave.
"Honestly, I couldn't do another year, and I wasn't strong enough," she said, thanking restaurant owners Nathalie and Guillermo Zapata for "always having (her) back." She also praised Lisa Vanderpump for her "encouragement and blessing to move forward."
"With the help of so many powerful people including Lisa I now have the opportunity to lead my own projects that you will see in 2020," wrote Lee, who is working on an anti-bullying campaign. "... Together, we will make a difference, and that difference will save lives!"
Lee ended her post on an uplifting note.
"If you ask me, my journey has only just begun. I now have the opportunity to educate and inspire others with my activism work and new projects taking off," she said. "Every day is an opportunity to take back your dream, to embrace your journey and live the life you’ve always wanted. You are never too old or 'too gay' and it’s never too late to start over."
TODAY has reached out to Bravo for comment.