Johansson new film outrages Transgendered Community

SCARLETT Johansson is no stranger to accusations of cultural appropriation, having played a “whitewashed” Asian character in the movie flop Ghost in the Shell.

Now she’s under fire again — this time for gender appropriation — with her decision to be cast as a transgender man in the mob movie, Rub & Tug.

When faced with criticism which went viral on social media, Johansson, 33, responded via a representative to online magazine Bustle with the statement: “Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment” — referring to the fact that those actors are cisgender and have played transgender characters, and received awards and critical acclaim for their portrayals.

If Gill was indeed transgender it will be problematic for Johansson to portray a transman when she identifies as a cisgender woman. Already, Twitter users are torpedoing the film with criticism before it has even begun.

Whereas there is a long tradition of cisgender actors playing trans characters to critical acclaim, the paradigm has shifted in recent years with the transgender movement increasing awareness and visibility of gender-authentic casting.


However, there may be a bigger problem ahead for Johansson who does not bear any physical resemblance at all to Gill, leaving some to wonder how she will make the physical transformation for the role — gender aside.



‘Give transgender talent a chance’

Transgender roles in movies and TV are rare. Until recently non-transgender actors were mostly cast in those parts. Only 17 regular and recurring transgender characters were tracked across broadcast, cable and streaming television series in the 2017-2018 season, according to a report released by GLAAD Media Institute. On Tuesday, Johansson responded to those critical of her casting in the forthcoming film by mentioning others who have played trans roles in Hollywood. “Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment,” she said in a statement obtained by Bustle. Jared Leto won an Oscar in 2014 for his portrayal of a transgender woman with AIDS in “Dallas Buyers Club.” Felicity Huffman earned an Oscar nomination for her role as a trans woman in the 2005 film “Transamerica.”

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