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ScarJo bows out

Scarlett Johansson

Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson has dropped out of Rub and Tug, in which she was  to play a transgender person, following backlash from the LGBT community.  

The actress’s exit comes a little more than a week after her casting sparked backlash amid trans groups and activists. “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,” Johansson told Out Magazine in a statement. “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 realise it was insensitive. I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues.”

The drama film, Rub and Tug focused on Dante Tex Gill, a crime kingpin who used his massage parlour as a front for prostitution in the ’70s and ’80s. Gill lived his life as a trans man, which led many on social media to wonder why a trans actor was not tapped for the role. “Oh word?? So you can continue to play us but we can’t play y’all?” Trace Lysette, a transgender actress best known for appearing on Amazon’s Transparent, wrote on Twitter after the casting announcement. 

Johansson added: “While I would have loved the opportunity to bring Dante’s story 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.” 

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