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Scarlett Johansson Responds to Backlash Over Playing Trans Man

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in Avengers Infinity War

Scarlett Johansson has issued a curt response to backlash she's received for accepting the role of a transgender man in Rub & Tug, the upcoming fact-based drama that will reunite her with Ghost in the Shell director Rupert Sanders.

Asked to comment on the criticism, the Avengers: Infinity War star respond to Bustle through a representative: “Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman's reps for comment.”

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According to The Hollywood Reporter, Rub & Tug tells the story of "Jean Marie Gill (Johansson), a person assigned female at birth who succeeded in Pittsburgh's 1970s and 1980s massage parlor and prostitution business by assuming the identity of a man, Dante 'Tex' Gill."

Several outlets, and Gill’s own obituary, indicate that Gill preferred masculine pronouns and may have begun transitioning at the time of his death in 2003.

While Johansson is correct that Tambor, Leto and Huffman have played transgender characters to varying acclaim, her statement and her casting do not address the underlying issue of Hollywood’s continued misrepresentation of those characters. Having a cisgender woman put on a suit is not the same as casting a transgender man.

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Tambor himself seemed to say as much during his Golden Globes' acceptance speech for his role as Maura on Transparent: “Please give transgender talent a chance. Give them auditions. Give them their stories. Do that. And also one more thing: I would not be unhappy were I the last cisgender male to play a female transgender on television.”

The criticism of Johansson follows the whitewashing controversy that followed her role in Sanders' Ghost in the Shell.

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