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A Lot Of People Are Mad That Scarlett Johansson's Newest Role Is A Trans Man

The actor's response directing critics "to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman's reps for comment" didn't help.

Last updated on July 4, 2018, at 1:12 a.m. ET

Posted on July 3, 2018, at 7:38 p.m. ET

Scarlett Johansson's newest upcoming role will be that of Dante "Tex" Gill, who was the real-life owner of massage parlors in 1970s Pittsburgh that also served as hubs for prostitution.

Angela Weiss/AFP / Getty Images/Pittsburgh Press

The film is currently called Rub and Tug and pairs her again with director Rupert Sanders, whom she collaborated with for Ghost in the Shell, the film adaptation of a popular Japanese manga that became the subject of a whitewashing casting controversy.

Buried in details of Gill's life of crime is the fact that Gill lived publicly as a man, and would likely identify as trans in modern times, and so Johannson, as a cis woman, playing the character did not go over well on social media.

scarlett johansson is gonna work with the ghost in the shell director AGAIN but this time she’s gonna play a trans man

Via Twitter: @brujasescarlata

What the fuuuuucccckkk Stop putting cis people in trans roles. Stop putting cis people in trans roles. Stop putting cis people in trans roles. Stop putting cis people in trans roles. Stop putting cis people in trans roles. Stop putting cis people in t

Via Twitter: @MxEmber

First the Japanese, and now Scarlett Johansson is taking on the trans community with her new film Rub and Tug. I can't wait until her Rosa Parks film comes out.

Via Twitter: @ValerieComplex

The statement a representative for the actor gave Bustle in response to the latest casting controversy only stoked the flames: "Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman's reps for comment."

wtf is this trash response Scarlett Johansson

Via Twitter: @cinemabite

The statement refers to other cisgender actors who have played critically acclaimed transgender roles. Tambor has won the Golden Globe and Emmy for his role in Transparent. Huffman was nominated for an Oscar for Transamerica, and Leto won for his role in Dallas Buyers Club.

And people weren't having it.

“This cis misunderstanding and exploitation of trans people can’t be problematic because look at how all these other cis people misunderstood and exploited trans people and got awards for it!” 🤬

Via xTwitter: @SmartAssJen

How many times does Scarlett Johansson have to show us who she is before we finally believe her? 🚮

Via Twitter: @fangirlJeanne

A representative for New Regency had no comment on the backlash against Johansson's casting. BuzzFeed News has reached out to Johansson's representative for further comment.


This article was edited to reflect Dante “Tex” Gill’s preferred name as an adult.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.