Activists and entertainers criticize Hollywood, and Johansson's response.
It was announced this week that Scarlett Johansson would be making another controversial movie role decision just a year after she was criticised for starring in the movie "Ghost in the Shell" which was accused of "whitewashing" and "gaybaiting." This time she's slated to star in the biopic Rub & Tug about an infamous Pennsylvania trans man named Dante “Tex” Gill.
Transgender leaders are not happy with the decision and have spoken out against the casting choice, saying that in this day and age trans actors should be portraying characters from their community, and not hiring cis men and women instead.
Once the controversy hit, Johansson herself responded to the backlash by saying "Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman's reps for comment," in Bustle.
She is referring to the cis stars playing trans roles in Transparent, Dallas Buyers Club, and Transamerica respectively.
"Yeah, I'm gonna avoid Scarlett Johansson movies moving forward after her response. Even if this topic were complex (and it's not: trans people should play trans people), flippantly dismissing concerns over this new role really says a lot about her views regarding trans people," tweeted Charlotte Clymer of the Human Rights Campaign.
Transparent star and trans actress Trace Lysette made her stance known too, "Oh word?? So you can continue to play us but we can’t play y’all?" she added, “Hollywood is so f**ked… I wouldn’t be as upset if I was getting in the same rooms as Jennifer Lawrence and Scarlett for cis roles, but we know that’s not the case. A mess."
She continued: “And not only do you play us and steal our narrative and our opportunity but you pat yourselves on the back with trophies and accolades for mimicking what we have lived… so twisted. I’m so done…”
Journalist Mary Emily O'Hara tweeted, "Basically, ScarJo was cast to play Murray Hill. I am so confused."
Said another twitter user, "You're making a movie about a fat, Trans man who was a crime boss and Scarlett Johansson is the first name that comes to mind? Really?" @red3blog wrote.
Sense8‘s Jamie Clayton, another trans performer, also weighed in on the issue saying transgender actors don't even get a chance to try out for parts that are about them.
“Actors who are trans never even get to audition FOR ANYTHING OTHER THAN ROLES OF TRANS CHARACTERS. THATS THE REAL ISSUE,” she wrote in all-caps. "“WE CANT EVEN GET IN THE ROOM."
She adds, “Cast actors WHO ARE TRANS as NON TRANS CHARACTERS. I DARE YOU #RupertSanders @NewRegency #ScarlettJohansson.”
The topic of the movie Dante “Tex” Gill was a Pittsburg business owner in the 70's who made a living in the sex worker business. He self-identified as a male and asked to be called Mr. Gill.
Some trans activists believe that casting cis actors in these roles perpetuate the myth that trans men and women are merely "men in dresses" or "women in suits." This then fuels violence and discrimination against them which can result in death.
So far, according to the HRC, there have been 14 reported murders of trans folks in the U.S. in 2018.