After a wave of backlash came crashing down on Scarlett Johansson for taking the role of a trans man in the film Rub & Tug, the actress has departed the film and issued the following statement to Out magazine.
In light of recent ethical questions raised surrounding my casting as Dante Tex Gill, I have decided to respectfully withdraw my participation in the project. Our cultural understanding of transgender people continues to advance, and I’ve learned a lot from the community since making my first statement about my casting and realize it was insensitive. I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues. According to GLAAD, LGBTQ+ characters dropped 40% in 2017 from the previous year, with no representation of trans characters in any major studio release. While I would have loved the opportunity to bring Dante’s story and transition to life, I understand why many feel he should be portrayed by a transgender person, and I am thankful that this casting debate, albeit controversial, has sparked a larger conversation about diversity and representation in film. I believe that all artists should be considered equally and fairly. My production company, These Pictures, actively pursues projects that both entertain and push boundaries. We look forward to working with every community to bring these most poignant and important stories to audiences worldwide.
The previous statement Johansson referred to was when she said, through her representation, that people who took issue with her playing the role of trans man Dante “Tex” Gill could “be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.” Gill ran a series of massage parlors that doubled as prostitution hubs in the 1970s and ‘80s, and though he was born Jean Gill, Dante insisted on using male pronouns and lived as a man. It was also stated in his obituary that he “may even have undergone the initial stages of a sex change that made her appear masculine.”