Star Trek’s New Season Features Its First Ever Transgender And Non‑Binary Characters


Sep 4, 2020


Image Credit: Getty Images

For the first time in the 54-year history of the franchise, Star Trek is introducing its first transgender and non-binary characters — played, respectively, by transgender and non-binary actors.

Scheduled to premiere on October 15, the new season of Star Trek: Discovery has cast Ian Alexander, a 19-year-old actor, believed to be the first out transgender Asian-American person to act on television. They have previously appeared on Netflix’s The OA, and have been featured in the popular video game, The Last of Us Part II. In the Star Trek-universe, they will play the character of Gray, an individual who has spent their life preparing to be a host for a symbiotic alien species.

And, Blu del Barrio, who was in their final year at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, when they auditioned for the role, will make their television debut in the latest season of Star Trek, playing the character of Adira, who forms an unexpected bond with a same-sex couple on the show. “When I got the call that I’d been cast as Adira, I hadn’t yet told the majority of my friends and family that I was non-binary. So when this happened, it felt like the universe saying ‘go ahead,'” del Barrio said in an interview with GLAAD. Reportedly, on the show, Adira is an introverted character, who doesn’t disclose that they’re non-binary right away: “So in a way, Adira’s story ends up mirroring mine. Just after I told people in my life, so did Adira,” del Barrio added.

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“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,” Michelle Paradise, co-showrunner and executive producer of the show, told BBC, hoping that the show can “bring [Gray’s and Adira’s] stories to life with empathy, understanding, empowerment and joy.” And, fans have begun puring their support on Twitter, saying this is “empowering,” and they’re “overjoyed.”

Representation is important. A recent study found that representation of the LGBTQIA+ community in the media makes society significantly more supportive and accepting of the community in real life. This demonstrates the power of inclusive onscreen portrayals in changing perceptions, and erasing prejudices towards the LGBTQIA+ community. 

Believed to have a long and rich history of representation and inclusion since the 1960s, the series is centred around Commander Burnham, the first Black woman to lead a Star Trek TV series, played by Sonequa Martin-Green.


Written By Devrupa Rakshit

Devrupa Rakshit is an Associate Editor at The Swaddle. She is a lawyer by education, a poet by accident, a painter by shaukh, and autistic by birth. You can find her on Instagram @devruparakshit.


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