You've probably heard that Scarlett Johansson is slated to portray a transgender man in an upcoming movie.
The movie in question is "Rub & Tug." It's based on the life of Dante "Tex" Gill, who operated a massage parlor and a prostitution ring in Pittsburgh around the 1970s and 1980s, and it's believed that he identified as a transgender man.
To the transgender community, this casting decision is insulting. Transgender actors in Hollywood rarely get the chance to play a cisgender character. But cisgender actors — like Jared Leto, Jeffrey Tambor, and Matt Bomer — have often taken up the few transgender character roles out there.
It came as no surprise that Johansson, a cisgender woman, would receive backlash for taking the role of a transgender man.
Actors who are trans never even get to audition FOR ANYTHING OTHER THAN ROLES OF TRANS CHARACTERS. THATS THE REAL I… https://t.co/Egn02FhAkc— Jamie Clayton (@Jamie Clayton) 1530676255.0
i hope scarlett johansson plays all 12 thai boys and their coach in the film adaptation— lolly (@lolly) 1531236149.0
We have to stop hiring non-trans actors to play trans characters. In my opinion, it's equally as traumatic & offens… https://t.co/JZPLvtxo30— Steven Canals (@Steven Canals) 1530658244.0
To further illustrate the problem, a group of trans actors responded with a hilariously clever video.
Into, a digital magazine operated by Grindr, released a video featuring four trans actors auditioning for Johansson's roles in past movies. The actors — Justin Chow, Scott Turner Schofield, D'Lo, and Rocco Kayiatos — read lines from Samantha in "Her," Charlotte in "Lost in Translation," Natasha Romanoff in "The Avengers," and Anna in "He's Just Not That Into You."
The video hit the nail on the head at the end. When Schofield ended up earning the role of Samantha in "Her," he rejected the casting offer.
His reason? He knew that cisgender women are marginalized in Hollywood and didn't want to take their voice away from them.
"Sorry, I’m just having trouble because cis women are actually really marginalized in Hollywood,” Schofield says in the video. “I mean, I know that there are people who have lived this experience and would bring a lot of authenticity to it, and I feel a little weird taking that from them.”
Although the video is short and tongue-in-cheek, their message still stands strong.
Transgender people are a marginalized community. They are often persecuted for their gender identities, but seldom have the opportunities to share their own stories on a prominent platform.
Fortunately, some great strides have been made for transgender representation in Hollywood. Transgender rights activist Janet Mock made history in July 2018 for becoming the first trans woman of color to write and direct a television episode for the FX show "Pose." Laverne Cox was nominated twice for the Emmys in the Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series category. Chaz Bono, the only child of Cher and Sonny Bono, has taken on television roles on "The Bold and the Beautiful" and "American Horror Story."
Get ready for the directorial debut of @janetmock. The first trans woman of color to direct an episode of televisio… https://t.co/lfLjIdUBT6— Billy Porter (@Billy Porter) 1531090177.0
It should go without saying that they are just a select few out of a handful of talented transgender actors in Hollywood.
Perhaps it's time for Hollywood to take notice of them.