Scarlett Johansson Criticized For Role As Transgender Man

Scarlett Johansson issued a dismissive statement over criticism surrounding her decision to take the role of a transgender man.

Scarlett Johansson Dismisses Criticism Over Her Decision to Play Transgender Man in New Film

Scarlett Johansson stated that she doesn’t think it’s problematic for her to take the role of a transgender character, despite being cisgender.

The actress is set to star in a biopic about the transgender crime boss, Dante ‘Tex’ Gill, who operated a massage parlour in Pittsburgh’s underground sex work industry during the 1970’s.

In a statement obtained by Bustle, the actress said via her representative, “Tell them they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.” Tambor, Leto and Huffman have all taken roles as transgender characters while their gender identity is cis.

Descriptions of Gill vary depending on the source. Some outlets describe the character as a “transmasculine crime boss”, or said the real-life Gill was a lesbian “who dressed like a man in suits and ties, wore short hair, and sideburns and preferred to be called ‘Mr. Gill’” or that Gill “succeeded in the prostitution business by assuming the identity of a man”.


Dante “Tex” Gill was chosen by The Pittsburgh Press as both Dubious Man and Dubious Woman, implying he was transgender, of 1984. (Pittsburgh Press photo)
Dante “Tex” Gill was chosen by The Pittsburgh Press as both Dubious Man and Dubious Woman of 1984. (Pittsburgh Press photo)

Gill’s obituary alleged that “she may have undergone the initial stages of a sex change that made her masculine” and that Gill “insisted she was a man.”

Johansson is no stranger to casting controversy. Last year, she received criticism for taking the role of Motoko- a character who is Japanese, in the original version of Ghost in the Shell.  The new film, Rub and Tug, and Ghost in the Shell are both directed by Rupert Sanders.

People took to Twitter to voice their disapproval of Johansson, taking the role.

The controversy is no surprise for many LGBT+ movie fans, who have called out the lack of representation before. Recently, Jurassic World cut a character’s coming out scene, which received harsh criticism from fans.

Other production companies have tried to become more diverse in their casting. Some have sent out casting calls looking for transgender people to play transgender characters.

“The problem with this entire situation should be immediately apparent,” said Connor Garel in a Vice article. “The practice of casting cisgender actors as trans people perpetuates the idea that trans people, somehow, are pretending to be something they aren’t, that being trans is inherently an act or performance.”

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