Scarlett Johansson faced criticism when she accepted a transgender role for an upcoming move, Rub & Tub. When the public found out, many complained over the fact that a cis female received the part of a transgender man. Because of the backlash, Johansson dropped the role. 

Before discarding her film character, Johansson replied to people who commented about her accepting the part. She said, “Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.” These are examples of cis actors who played a transgender role on the screen. 

Jamie Clayton, a transgender actress, commented what she believes is the big issue of all this. 

Actors who are trans never even get to audition for anything other than roles of trans characters. That’s the real issue. We can’t even get in the room.”

Unfortunately, the entertainment world doesn’t have many big-named transgender actors and actresses. Because of this, movie castings lean towards other “big” celebrities who may not be transgender. Some people note that this could be solely for profit since famous actors and actresses can increase Box Office sales. However, that could easily be debunked because directors could cast well-known celebrities as supporting leads, while the transgender lead could be an actual transgender person. 


Later on, Johansson commented on the issue again, but in a different tone. 

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. [I have a] great admiration and love for the trans community.”

Continuing her statement, 

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.”


After stepping down from her role, transgender activists applauded her decision. Trans activist, Jen Richards, said, 

If you’re tired of hearing about it, you can’t imagine how tired trans actors are of talking about it. We just want to work. And with more trans and nonbinary people, of all kinds, participating, the work will be a better and richer representation of our world. This is a win.”

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation stated the following:

Scarlett Johansson’s announcement, together with the transgender voices who spoke out about this film, are game changers for the future of transgender images in Hollywood.”