Trans actors and filmmakers have expressed their support for Scarlett Johansson's decision to step down from her role in the upcoming film Rub & Tug.
Johansson had originally signed on to play trans man Dante 'Tex' Gill, who operated a prostitution and massage parlor in Pittsburgh in the 70s and 80s. After her casting was announced, trans artists publically denounced the decision, explaining that trans actors are simply not given the same opportunities to tell their own stories as cis actors:
Now, after intense online criticism, Johansson has stepped down from the project, after releasing an exclusive statement to Out (read in full here):
"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."
Rhys Ernst, an Emmy-nominated trans director and filmmaker, told The Hollywood Reporter: "Scarlett deciding to pull out was a good example of listening to the community and that was the right thing to do."
"It says a lot about Scarlett Johansson. That actually makes me a little emotional because it's not an easy industry for trans women. It's not an easy industry for trans men," said Transparent and Lopez actress Rain Valdez to THR.
Trans actress Jen Richards (Nashville, Her Story) said to THR: "I'm going to assume what she says in the statement, which is clearly very well-crafted by a team of very smart people, was nonetheless in earnest."
And trans artist Zachary Drucker explained: "We are so troubled and so ravaged by feeling ignored, by feeling exploited, by feeling that our stories are not our own."