Scarlett Johansson is again at the center of a casting controversy, this time for accepting a role to play a transgender man.
She's joining director Rupert Sanders to star in "Rub & Tug," a film based on the true story of transgender massage parlor owner Dante "Tex" Gill, The Hollywood Reporter and Variety have reported. Sanders previously directed Johansson in 2017's "Ghost in a Shell," another controversial role, in which she starred as the Japanese manga character Major Motoko Kusanagi.
Johansson released a statement to Bustle via an unnamed representative: "Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman's reps for comment."
For reference, those three cisgender actors played transgender characters in "Transparent," "Dallas Buyers Club" and "Transamerica," respectively.
USA TODAY has reached out to Johansson's and Sanders' representatives for comment.
Many on Twitter responded angrily, both to the initial casting and the statement to Bustle. The overwhelming consensus: Transgender characters should be played by transgender actors.
"So you can continue to play us but we can’t play y’all? Hollywood is so [expletive]," tweeted "Transparent" actress Trace Lysette." "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."
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."
Lysette's "Transparent" co-star, Alexandra Grey, proposed a round-table discussion with "The Hollywood Reporter": "We need to reach all those execs, studios, show runners, and networks who will see it and who will have the power to make some moves and really help shift the industry in a more inclusive & diverse direction," she wrote.
"Flippantly dismissing concerns over this new role really says a lot about her views regarding trans people," wrote Charlotte Clymer, a communications staffer for the Human Rights Campaign.
"Basically, ScarJo was cast to play Murray Hill," tweeted journalist Mary Emily O'Hara. "I am so confused."
"You're making a movie about a fat, Trans man who was a crime boss and Scarlett Johansson is the first name that comes to mind? Really?" @red3blog wrote.
Jamie Clayton ("Sense8") reminded what it's like being a transgender actress in Hollywood: "Actors who are trans never even get to audition FOR ANYTHING OTHER THAN ROLES OF TRANS CHARACTERS," she wrote.
"I hope this new movie will be rewarded in the same way as ("Ghost in the Shell") - mediocre reviews and a box office failure," wrote film writer Hanna Ines Flint.
In a March 2017 interview with Marie Claire, Johansson acknowledged the controversy surrounding her "Ghost in the Shell" casting.
"Diversity is important in Hollywood, and I would never want to feel like I was playing a character that was offensive," she said.