The Schmooze

Backlash After Scarlett Johansson Cast As Trans Character

Scarlett Johansson has faced massive criticism this week for taking on a role as an apparently transgender man. Johansson will play Dante “Tex” Gill, an iconic massage-parlor kingpin who dominated Pittsburgh’s illicit pleasure centers in the 70’s and 80’s in the upcoming movie “Rub and Tug.” Johansson is a cisgender woman. Gill presented and identified as masculine.

In response to the waves of criticism, a representative for Johansson told Bustle, “Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.” Those three actors all played transgender characters in major studio productions, despite identifying as cisgender themselves. This is the second time in one year Johansson has been accused of accepting a role that should rightfully have gone to a member of a specific marginalized identity group — the first was for her role in “Ghost in a Shell,” as a Japanese cyber-creature. Rupert Sanders, who directed that film, will direct “Rub and Tug” as well.

Whether it’s wrong to ever cast a cisgender person in a transgender role is tough to determine.

Whether it’s wrong to never, ever cast an actual transgender person in a transgender role is much easier. For more persuasive arguments, the Schmooze hands our baton to the good people of Twitter.

Some serious and compassionate advice:

Just some logic:

Deserved righteous anger:

Just some simple facts:

Trace Lysette of “Transparent” tells it:

And the Colin Jost angle:

Jenny Singer is the deputy lifestyle editor for the Forward. You can reach her at or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny

This story "Backlash After Scarlett Johansson Cast As Transgender" was written by Jenny Singer.

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Backlash After Scarlett Johansson Cast As Trans Character

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