American actress Scarlett Johansson on Friday announced she was pulling out of a film, in which she had been cast to play a transgender man.
Johansson was due to take the lead role in “Rub and Tug,” which tells the story of late, real-life transgender man, Dante “Tex” Gill, an American massage parlour operator and pimp who became a major crime figure in the 1970s and 1980s. Born Lois Jean Gill, he identified as male.
The casting of Johansson sparked outrage, particularly from the LGBT+ community, and has been used to highlight the limited opportunities given to transgender actors and actresses.
Johansson said she had decided to pull out of the film for ethical reasons.
“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 realise it was insensitive,” she said in a statement to LGBT+ magazine Out, adding, W“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.”
According to LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD, not one of the 109 movies released by Hollywood’s seven biggest studios in 2017 included a transgender character.
Transgender actresses Trace Lysette and Jamie Clayton were two of the major voices speaking out on Twitter.