Culture critic E. Oliver Whitney explained why casting Scarlett Johansson to play a trans movie character was the wrong call. The actress, who has already faced backlash in the past for tone-deaf roles, was slated to play real-life trans man Dante “Tex” Gill in a film.
“Cis actors have far more advantages and access in Hollywood than trans folks do. There’s no shortage of unbelievably talented trans actors who never get the chance to play, or even audition for trans parts that go directly to more famous cis leads,” Whitney explained. “But there’s another huge reason cis people shouldn’t plays trans, especially right now — it has harmful consequences in the real world.”
Trans individuals don’t have the same legal rights and protections in the country. They are also attacked, or even murdered, at much higher rates than cis people. Whitney believes this correlates with how they are perceived in the media, which can construe their identity as “just a performance.”
“Cis women in those roles suggests trans men are just butch women disguised as men — that’s not true,” they explained. “Cis actors playing us de-legitimizes our identity, reduces us to dangerous stereotypes, and fails to capture the nuance and truth of who we are.”