Scarlett Johansson Exits Trans Role After Black-Woman-Led Backlash

- By

Scarlett Johansson

Premiere of ‘Ghost in the Shell’ at AMC Lincoln Square Theater – Arrivals
Featuring: Scarlett Johansson
Where: New York, New York, United States
When: 29 Mar 2017
Credit: LK/WENN

Scarlett Johansson has heeded the criticisms and dropped out from playing the role of a transman.

Johansson has a history of playing roles that could have easily gone to members of marginalized communities. Last year, she starred in the film Ghost in the Shell portraying the role of an Asian character. And she was in the process of doing the same thing by taking on the role of Dante “Tex” Gill, a transman in the film Rub & Tug.

We wrote about the backlash she received when her casting in the project was announced and the statement she released in response to the criticism.

“Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.”

The aforementioned actors, all cisgender, played trans men and women in various films or television shows.

But if her decision to take the role was criticized, her statement only worked to drive the nail in the coffin.

And Black women, particularly April Reign, known for her game-changing #OscarsSoWhite campaign, was one of the loudest voices. 

Other Black women stepped forward to comment on the issue.

Today, Deadline reported that Johansson has removed herself from the project. In a statement published on, Johansson said,

“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. 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. 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. I believe that all artists should be considered equally and fairly. My production company, These Pictures, actively pursues projects that both entertain and push boundaries. We look forward to working with every community to bring these most poignant and important stories to audiences worldwide.”

Black women, boy…we do it all.


Veronica Wells is the culture editor at She is also the author of “Bettah Days” and the creator of the website NoSugarNoCreamMag. You can follow her on Facebook and on Instagram and Twitter @VDubShrug.
Comment Disclaimer: Comments that contain profane or derogatory language, video links or exceed 200 words will require approval by a moderator before appearing in the comment section. XOXO-MN