Star Trek: Discovery Introduces Franchise's First Non-Binary and Transgender Characters

Michael Foust | Contributor | Updated: Sep 04, 2020
<em>Star Trek: Discovery</em> Introduces Franchise's First Non-Binary and Transgender Characters

Star Trek: Discovery Introduces Franchise's First Non-Binary and Transgender Characters

The world of Star Trek will break new ground next month when the CBS All-Access series Star Trek: Discovery introduces the franchise’s first non-binary and transgender characters.

Actor Blu del Barrio will play Adira, a non-binary character, while Ian Alexander will play Gray, a transgender character. Both are firsts for the Star Trek universe.

Season 3 of Star Trek: Discovery launches on CBS’ All-Access, a streaming platform, in October. Star Trek: Discovery is a prequel set about a decade prior to the 1960s series.

The series’ official Facebook page made the announcement and linked to an interview with del Barrio on the website of GLAAD, an organization that monitors LGBT representation in the media.

“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, the series’ executive producer, said in a statement. “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.”

Alexander is transgender in real life, and del Barrio is non-binary. Del Barrio uses the pronouns “they/them/theirs.”

“We live in a society built around a binary,” del Barrio told GLAAD. “Everything, and I mean everything, is gendered. It's either made for men, or made for women. Non-binary is an umbrella term for any identity that does not neatly fit into that binary. … For many non-binary people, myself included, finding the language to match what you feel can be very difficult. I didn't know the term existed until I was 21, but when I found it, my whole life suddenly made sense. The way we think and talk about gender has to change. Our societal norms surrounding gender have to change. Because non-binary people deserve to live in a world where they fit.”

Fans of the series had a wide range of responses on the show’s Facebook page. Some said the franchise previously had introduced non-binary and transgender characters, despite the claim by CBS All-Access. Others said the series was growing too politically correct.

“Will the pandering ever stop?” one person asked. “Star Trek is one franchise that actually does itself a disservice by stooping to this silly level. There is zero need to have all these token characters and storylines.”

Another person wrote, “Why does modern TV have to ruin every show I love?”

Photo courtesy: ©CBS-All Access

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

Star Trek: Discovery Introduces Franchise's First Non-Binary and Transgender Characters