CBS All Access has announced that the third season of Star Trek: Discovery will see the addition of a non-binary and transgender character to the crew of the USS Discovery.
According to Variety, the transgender character is “a trans man who has spent his life as a Trill planning to be a host for a symbiotic alien species that lives in different hosts over its lifetime,”. The character will also be played by trans actor Ian Alexander (Lev, The Last of Us Part II).
Non-binary actor Blu Del Barrio, in their first on-screen acting role, will play Adira, “a non-binary character who bonds with Lt. Commander Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and Dr. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz), the first same-sex couple in “Trek” TV series history.”
In a statement provided by Michelle Paradise, the co-showrunner and executive producer explained these two new additions to the cast, stating “‘Star Trek’ has always made a mission of giving visibility to underrepresented communities because it believes in showing people that a future without division on the basis of race, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation is entirely within our reach.”
The characters’ identities are set to be treated with respect, as Paradise said “We take pride in working closely with Blu del Barrio, Ian Alexander and Nick Adams at GLAAD to create the extraordinary characters of Adira and Gray, and bring their stories to life with empathy, understanding, empowerment and joy.”
Many outlets have claimed that Alexander and Del Barrio will be portraying Star Trek’s ‘first transgender and non-binary characters’, but a glance at franchise history reveals that this may not be the case.
In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode The Outcast, audiences are introduced to the J’naii, an alien race that has evolved beyond gender and exists as genderless, androgynous individuals.
While Star Trek has not had an outright transgender character, the J’naii can also be viewed as a commentary on the issues felt by the transgender community, as younger J’naii who gravitate toward a gendered identity are considered ‘sick’ and are ostracized from society.
What do you think of this announcement by Star Trek Discovery? Star Trek: Discovery returns to CBS All Access for its third season on October 15th.