Fans of Star Trek will be excited to hear about new casting developments for the upcoming season of Star Trek: Discovery—the show will now feature trans and non-binary characters, the first transgender representation in the franchise’s half-century history.
It is particularly exciting that not one, but two characters are being introduced: the first is a non-binary crew member named Adira who will be played by Blu del Barrio, the second is a trans man named Gray who will be portrayed by Ian Alexander. Del Barrio is a non-binary actor using they/them pronouns, who will make their major screen debut on Discovery. Alexander, a trans actor who uses they/them and he/him pronouns, has previously been seen on Netflix’s The OA and video game The Last of Us Part II.
According to a press release sent by CBS, “Adira is highly intelligent with a confidence and self-assurance well beyond their years. They will find a new home on the U.S.S. Discovery and form an unexpected bond with Lt. Commander Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and Dr. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz).” It’s heart-warming to hear that Adira will get to have that closeness with Stamets and Culber, the first openly queer couple in Trek’s long history—and important that Trek won’t be shying away from the bonds that queer people have historically formed with each other in search of family and acceptance.
Gray, on the other hand, has a very interesting path ahead of him. According to CBS, “Gray is empathetic, warm and eager to fulfill his lifelong dream of being a Trill host, but he will have to adapt when his life takes an unexpected turn.” Trill storylines have been taken as an analog for transness ever since they were introduced on Trek, with some fans even going so far as to consider Deep Space Nine‘s Dax as a transgender icon in pop culture. This begs the question of whether or not Dax could be due for an appearance on Discovery—knowing that the crew has headed into an unknown future (and that the Trill are a part of season three’s plot), it’s even possible that Gray could be Dax’s next host, if they wanted to tie into larger Trek continuity.
While Star Trek has always considered itself to be a franchise in the business of imagining a better future, it’s taken a long time for them to reach this point in queer representation. Here’s hoping that Adira and Gray enjoy a warm welcome, fascinating character choices, and a long tenure as newcomers to the Star Trek family.
Star Trek: Discovery season three will premiere on CBS All Access on Thursday, October 15.