Reports that actress Scarlett Johansson will play a trans man in an upcoming movie have at least one Slate writer and more than a few other liberals claiming that movies should “stop casting women to play men’s roles.”
Johannson is expected to play Dante “Tex” Gill,” a trans brothel owner who was connected to the mob, in the upcoming movie Rub & Tug. But Slate’s Evan Urquhart believes the “cisgender” actress is a “particularly poor choice” for the role.
In lieu of a big-name trans actor that could carry a movie like Johansson could, Urquhard contends movies should “cast cis men to play trans men, and cis women to play trans women.”
When Hollywood insists on casting across gender, it hurts trans people by reinforcing two ideas: First, that trans men are “really” women (and vice versa); and second, that trans people are always visibly trans. The idea that trans people are pretending to be something we’re not is at the root of most of the hatred we’re subjected to, hatred that sometimes leads to violence—for instance when a man who flirts with of a trans woman discovers he’s been “tricked” and flies into a rage. These depictions also hurt trans people directly: I myself was reluctant to come out as trans for many years, believing I’d be seen as fake and that I stood no chance of passing for male. I’ve often imagined how much different my life might have been if only Tom Cruise had been cast instead of Hillary Swank in “Boys Don’t Cry.”
The Slate writer believes perceptions will “start to change when men are cast to play trans men.”
“I can only conclude that the people casting want viewers to see trans men as playacting girls—and don’t care how many trans people are hurt by their perpetuating that belief over and over again,” he wrote. “If that’s not so, giving the role of Dante ‘Tex’ Gill to a man—any man—would be a great start.”
Responding yet not responding to the criticism, Johansson issued this statement to Bustle: “Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.”
Urquhart wasn’t the only critic. Several sounded off on Twitter about the Johansson choice.
Scarlett Johansson is playing a trans man in her next movie because her ultimate career goal is to take an acting job from a member of each and every marginalized group.
— Faith Choyce (@faithchoyce) July 3, 2018
Stop doing this shit. https://t.co/Z5VAH3Xg0b
— Calvin (@calvinstowell) July 3, 2018
Here’s how this will go down:
Trans people will object. The director will stand by their casting choice, saying “ScarJo is the best for the role. But Im glad we’re having this conversation.” Then nothing will change.
Same as always.https://t.co/RnZAeEQZnk
— Magdalene Visaggio, Immaterial Girl (@MagsVisaggs) July 3, 2018
i’m mad https://t.co/FteVBZaS1S
— e. oliver whitney (@cinemabite) July 3, 2018