Controversy over Scarlett Johansson's trans role

The LGBTQ community has said that a trans actor should have been offered the role


Scarlett Johansson has been criticised for taking on the role of a transgender man in a new film. 

The Lost in Translation actress is set to star in a 1970s biopic Rub and Tug, about a crime boss Jean Gill.

Gill, who owned a massage parlour in Pittsburgh which served as a front for prostitution, identified as male and was known as Dante 'Tex' Gill. The Hollywood Reporter, described Gill as “succeed[ing] in Pittsburgh's 1970s and 1980s massage parlor and prostitution business by assuming the identity of a man, Dante 'Tex' Gill.”

However members of the public and a number of LGBTQ actors have spoken out against Johnasson's casting, saying that a trans actror shuld have been chosen for the role.

Trace Lysette, best known for her role on Transparent tweeted angrily: "So you can continue to play us but we can’t play y’all?"

“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.”

Actress Jamie Clayton from Netflix's Sense8 also tweeted about the choice, saying: “Actors who are trans never even get to audition for anything other than roles of trans characters.” She then "dared" casting directors to hire more trans actors in non trans roles.



However other commentators noted that actors are meant to act - i.e. play roels that are not themselves, therefore hiring a straight woman to play a trans character is not out of the ordinary. 



A spokesperson reportedly gave Bustle a comment from Johansson to her detractors stating: "Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman's [actors who have famously, and to great acclaim, played trans roles] reps for comment."

Johansson has been criticied in the past for taking on roles she may not have been qualified to play. In 2017's Ghost in the Shell she played a charcater that was originally intended to be Asian. Rupert Sanders, who directed Ghost In The Shell, is reported to also be directing Rub and Tug.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive