Scarlett Johansson brings attention to the challenges

The controversy around Scarlett Johansson’s casting as a transgender man in ‘Rub & Tug’ wouldn’t have happened if trans actors were being given equal opportunities in Hollywood.


over casting cisgender actors in transgender roles may have finally reached a turning point, if the current uproar over Scarlett Johansson’s casting as transgender man Dante Tex Gill is any indication.

It was only last month, after all, that Donna he journalist whose 1994 Village Voice story on murdered transgender man Brandon Teena informed the Hilary Swank film Boys Don’t Cry, looked back on her own coverage in a powerful essay about her past transphobic ignorance.


Roger Ebert, for example, wrote in his review that the motto of the film should be Girls just wanna have fun  calling Brandon “a lonely girl who would rather be a boy. That false impression, of course, was not helped by the fact that a cisgender woman, Swank, had been cast in the role. A transgender male actor would have not only lent authenticity to the part, his presence at premieres and interviews would have forced the entertainment press to at least reckon with his idenтιтy more seriously. It’s easy to speculate about the ᴅᴇᴀᴅ; it’s harder to call a transgender man a woman to his face.


Most painfully, the obituary says that Gill “sure looked and acted the part [of a man]”—and indeed, that’s probably because he was a man, living at a time when there was too little public understanding of what it meant to be transgender.


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