So this is what happened, Scarlett Johansson is set to play a character in the movie Rub & Tug. The problem is that Johansson’s character is a bit deceiving, she’s playing a transgendered man. “Rub & Tug, a biopic about a transgender man—and crime boss—who presided over Pittsburgh’s underground sex work industry throughout the 1970s.“(https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/gykzj9/scarlett-johansson-to-play-a-transgender-man-in-new-movie-rub-and-tug). Without hesitation, VICE News had jumped all over this. This is one of the times where I will say that they rightfully did so, yet again it is not because they take a reasonable stance.
The issue doesn’t lie with the unconventional (and possibly controversial) choice of a protagonist. Really, this seems like a wonderful story of adversity, one that many people don’t have the willingness to see. This isn’t the first attempt at such an elusive narrative, there are movies about trans folk. The issue is quite clear, they picked a cisgender female, to portray a transgender man. It’s not like Hollywood hasn’t been doing this forever, with Boys Don’t Cry dating back to 1999. However, VICE portrays this to be a total outrage, that they are making transgendered people come across as “having to act out as being something they’re not, that being trans is just merely a performance”.
That notion, that they are merely they are saying that trans people are merely acting, and that being trans can be boiled down to a scripted performance is absurd. They then quote transgender actress Jen Richards tweet from 2016 saying ““You will exacerbate the cultural belief that trans women are really men, which is the root of violence against us,” yet that is exactlywhat you are trying to say Jen. It’s a complicated issue a lot of people say, and it is; yet someone is making it unnecessarily complicated. Just as recent as last year I was still debated on the issue of having genderless bathrooms. I mean fuck, I really don’t care where you go do your business; yet be aware of the risks you may be taking.
What I hear is VICE complaining about transgendered folk not being represented correctly in movies. So, in turn, isn’t the problem easily solved by assigning these roles to transgendered actors, it makes sense doesn’t it? Here lies the issue, I don’t know of many good transgendered actors, and it would seem that the quality of their acting diminishes as we compare to cisgender actors and actresses. Much like writing, the quality of my output determines the opportunities available to me. Are we really going to cast blame on “marginalization”, that the reason these actors are not good is because they are oppressed?
Let’s take a minute and as I try to wrap my head around this framework; A transgendered person is defined as “denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex” (via Google Dictionary). They therefore believe that they should be accessible to the same services and should be treated like “the gender they feel they are”. But you are not a man, you are a trans woman and therefore should get only some of what it means to be a man, yet for other things you still want your womanhood? Hardly seems fair
Bill Burr hits the mark in his stand up skit, it starts of explaining why the wage gap exists since 2004(since feminist activist won’t shut up about it, (or talk about it reasonably). Here’s the clip it’s fucking iconic. This video starts at 2.:17, feel free to watch the entire clip. https://youtu.be/imZ52DHBtug?t=2m17s
Okay let’s get back to why I think picking arguably one of the sexiest actors to play a transgendered man is crossing the line on “artistic expression”. Associating transgendered men with an attractive female, who has proven to be smart, funny with a great personality, is deception at is finest. I’m not going to sit here and write a whole swath of lies, but let’s be honest with ourselves; let’s look at a few of the roles Scarlett Johansson has played as in the last 10 years: a nerd’s heartthrob assassin, a heart-warming and empathetic operating system who is there for you (and only you), a confused and sexy cyborg who is looking for home. And now, she is an attractive transgender man? It seems like Hollywood is trying to change our perceptions toward transgender men and women.
This inherently is a thought crime from George Orwell’s 1949, that it’s okay to use psychological tricks to undermine how people feel. But what if trans folk don’t feel likeThen you have to think, how many people are going to associate something that’s Hollywood picture perfect with real life transgender men (or woman). Believe me, people will and it’s crime that you are unknowingly allowing. I say this because it really takes away from the people that are supposed to do the work, raising awareness about transgendered and understanding why someone comes out as transgendered.
Take a minute to think about how doing this can set the trans community up failure, just imagine would you want someone else trying to be you? My identity is unique to me, so are my qualities as a person.