Scarlett Johansson has exited the movie “Rub and Tug” after backlash over the actress playing a transgender man.
“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,” Johansson told Out Magazine. “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.
“Rub and Tug” is based on the life of Dante “Tex” Gill, a massage parlor owner in Pittsburgh in the 1970s and ’80s, who, according to an obituary, was known as “the woman who prefers to be known as a man.” The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette obit also said Gill, who was born as Lois Jean Gill, may have undergone “the initial stages of a sex change that made her appear masculine.”
Online critics took that to mean Gill was a transgender man, and questioned whether Johansson, a woman, is the right person for the role.
Representatives for New Regency and Johansson have not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment.