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Two Trans Actors Have Spoken Out About Casting In Hollywood Amid Scarlett Johansson Drama

"I wouldn't be 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."

Posted on July 5, 2018, at 11:19 a.m. ET

Trace Lysette and Jamie Clayton, two trans actors, have added their voices to the chorus of people who disapprove of Scarlett Johansson's recent casting as Dante "Tex" Gill, a trans man who owned massage parlors that doubled as prostitution establishments in the '70s.

Vivien Killilea / Getty Images, Greg Doherty / Getty Images

Johansson faced backlash earlier this week when it was announced that she would be working with Rupert Sanders, the same director she teamed up with on the critically panned Ghost in the Shell, for a new film called Rub & Tug.

Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

Johansson is set to play Gill, but people have taken issue with the fact that the actor is cisgender — a person whose personal identity and gender correspond with their sex at birth — and would be playing a trans man.

A lot of the criticism around the topic stems from the fact that there are so few roles for actual transgender people.

In a response that didn't help the matter, Johansson's publicist responded to the pushback, saying, "Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman's reps for comment."

"Oh word?? So you can continue to play us but we can't play y'all?" Lysette said on Tuesday, who's best known for her role as Shea on Transparent. "I wouldn't be 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."

Earl Gibson Iii / Getty Images

Lysette also noted that cisgender actors are often praised for taking on trans roles. "You pat yourselves on the back with trophies and accolades for mimicking what we have lived... so twisted," she said.

And not only do you play us and steal our narrative and our opportunity but you pat yourselves on the back with trophies and accolades for mimicking what we have lived... so twisted. I’m so done...

In recent years, some actors have been recognized with Academy Award wins and nominations for playing trans women, like Jared Leto, who won in 2014 for his role in Dallas Buyers Club, and Eddie Redmayne, who was nominated for his role in The Danish Girl in 2016.

Prior to that, Felicity Huffman was nominated for an Oscar in 2006 for her role in Transamerica, and in the late '90s, Hilary Swank won Best Actress for portraying Brandon Teena in Boys Don't Cry, based on the real-life story of a trans man who was brutally murdered in 1993.

Sense8 actor Clayton echoed a similar response in a tweet that went viral. "Actors who are trans never even get to audition for anything other than roles of trans characters," she said.

"Thats the real issue," Clayton continued. "We can't even get in the room. Cast actors who are trans as non trans characters. I dare you."
Greg Doherty / Getty Images

"Thats the real issue," Clayton continued. "We can't even get in the room. Cast actors who are trans as non trans characters. I dare you."

Social reaction was strong, with a lot of people showing support for Lysette and Clayton. "Just give trans actors and POC more roles in general," one person said.

Just as I wasn't happy with Scarlett Johansson playing Japanese Motoko Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell, I am sure as hell not okay with her accepting trans roles which should have gone to actors who actually are. Also, just give trans actors and POC more roles in general. Damn. https://t.co/tovNFS1il7

"This kind of thing just shouldn't keep happening," another added.

I have nothing against Scarlett Johansson, but this kind of thing just shouldn't keep happening. https://t.co/5yAccracQA

Jen Richards, a trans activist, writer, and producer, suggested the Hollywood Reporter do a roundtable regarding the issue, much like the outlet has done in the past with big-name actors during awards season. "We'd love the chance to have our voices heard by the industry," she said.

Hey @THR, this trans casting issue isn’t going away and there are a roundtable’s worth of us who could lay out all the finer points quite clearly. We’d love the chance to have our voices heard by the industry, and what better place to have that happen than THR? https://t.co/goImne8QTU

Richard's sentiments were cosigned by Orange Is the New Black's Laverne Cox, who said, "This is a great idea."

This is a great idea. https://t.co/ezFd08ejmv

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