Love Long and Prosper: Transgender Representation in Star Trek ALT To Boldly Grow

Written by | Screen, The Lens

Acceptance is like space travel; it is the loftiest goal that Earthlings can achieve, yet it sometimes seems as distant and elusive as the outer edges of the galaxy. Star Trek is turbo-charging their quest for inclusion by introducing two transgender characters into the Discovery universe.

Blu del Barrio plays Adira, a non-binary teen struggling with memory loss as they befriend Dr. Culber and Commander Stamets.


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Stamets and Culber are a queer couple in Discovery’s diverse diaspora of wonderfully fluid characters. Their ranks are growing gayer by the moment, welcoming transgender actor Ian Alexander into the otherworldly action.

Star Trek boasts an esteemed history of groundbreaking progressivism. Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura shared the first interracial kiss on American broadcast television back in 1968. Love was in the air(waves), and it wasn’t relegated to heterosexuals. We are forever indebted to the casting department of Star Trek for giving us the sublime George Takei.


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Takei was able to excavate the fascinating and complex depths of the human experience that Star Trek so brilliantly explored. He survived the travesty of life in a Japanese internment camp during World War II and conveys his experiences with a warmth and wit unparalleled in this world or any other.

When Takei came out of the closet in 2005, he paved the way for stargazers and sci-fi enthusiasts of all stripes. Fast forward to the present day, as Ian Alexander and Blu del Barrio prepare to step into Takei’s venerable space boots. It is an “oh my” task, to be sure, but one that the young trans actors are ready to attack at warp speed.

“Non-binary people have always existed,” explains del Barrio in their recent interview with GLAAD. “Most people don’t personally know someone who is transgender, so they don’t know much about gender diversity. This is where I believe the problem starts.”

Complex problems require innovative solutions, and representation is the laser beam we need to shed light on life in the shadows. Alexander and del Barrio are able to shine brightly and honestly on the largest celestial stage imaginable in Star Trek: Discovery. We can’t wait to bask in their gay glow.

Last modified: September 8, 2020