Business Insider deletes opinion piece defending Scarlett Johansson’s role as trans man in new film

Financial news website Business Insider has deleted an opinion piece defending Scarlett Johansson for playing a trans man in an upcoming film – a decision that has prompted backlash from trans actors.

The column – titled “Scarlett Johansson is being unfairly criticized for doing her job in being cast as a transgender man” – was published on Friday, but has since been taken down.

The article, which has been seen by PinkNews, defends Johansson for accepting the role of real-life trans man Dante “Tex” Gill in the upcoming film Rub & Tug, directed by Rupert Sanders.

It read: “Scarlett Johansson is the latest target of the social-justice warrior mob. The actress is being chastised, well, for acting.

“She has been cast in a movie in which she will play someone different than herself. For this great crime – which seems to essentially define the career path she has chosen – she is being castigated for being insufficiently sensitive to the transgender community.”

The article went on to criticise the views of transgender actors, including Transparent‘s Trace Lysette, who had objected to Johansson taking on the new part.

The article has since been taken down. (Business Insider)

“What they fail to acknowledge is that the job of an actor is to represent someone else,” the article continued. “Johansson’s identity off the screen is irrelevant to the identities she plays on the screen. That’s what she’s paid for.

“And if she does her job, she’ll make everyone forget about the controversy in the first place.”

Business Insider confirmed to PinkNews that the article had been removed.

Mario Ruiz, senior vice president of communications at Business Insider, told PinkNews: “Business Insider removed the article because, upon further review, we decided it did not meet our editorial standards.”

Responding to the backlash, Johansson had said in a statement to Bustle: “Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.”

All three actors singled out by Johansson are cis people who have played trans characters, including Tambor in Amazon’s Transparent, before he was fired over sexual misconduct allegations this year, Leto starred in the 2013 film Dallas Buyers Club, while Huffman was in Transamerica, a 2005 comedy-drama.

None of the actors name-checked by Johansson have responded to PinkNews’ requests for comment.

The opinion piece defended Johansson for taking on a role as a trans man in a new film. (Business Insider)

Lysette called Johansson’s decision to accept the role as “a mess” and “so twisted.”

Writing on Twitter, Lysette said: Oh word?? So you can continue to play us but we can’t play y’all?

“Hollywood is so f**ked… I wouldn’t be as upset if I was getting in the same rooms as Jennifer Lawrence and Scarlett for cis roles, but we know that’s not the case. A mess.”

She continued: “And not only do you play us and steal our narrative and our opportunity but you pat yourselves on the back with trophies and accolades for mimicking what we have lived… so twisted. I’m so done…”

Trans actor Jamie Clayton, who starred in Netflix series Sense8, wrote on Twitter: ““Actors who are trans never even get to audition FOR ANYTHING OTHER THAN ROLES OF TRANS CHARACTERS. THATS THE REAL ISSUE.”


“Cast actors WHO ARE TRANS as NON TRANS CHARACTERS. I DARE YOU #RupertSanders @NewRegency #ScarlettJohansson.”