'Star Trek: Discovery' Adds Franchise's First Transgender and Non-Binary Characters
By Stacy Lambe
Jake Akita / Phil Sharp
The Star Trek universe continues to expand its LGBTQ inclusivity and representation with the addition of the franchise’s first transgender and non-binary characters to the cast of the CBS All Access original Star Trek: Discovery.
Newcomer and non-binary actor Blu del Barrio (pronouns: they/them), will make their acting debut in season 3 as Adira, who is described as “highly intelligent with a confidence and self-assurance well beyond their years.” Adira will find a home on USS Discovery after forming an unexpected bond with Lt. Commander Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and Dr. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz), who made history as the franchise’s first openly gay characters.
“Adira is a wonderfully complex character. Mainly because of this duality they have within them: they’re astonishingly intelligent and yet they’re still a kid. They experience their emotions at a heightened level, like most teenagers,” Barrio tells GLAAD about the character. “That’s what makes them so fun to play.”
Meanwhile, after appearing on the Netflix series The OA, 19-year-old transgender actor Ian Alexander (pronouns: he/him) joins as Gray, who “is empathetic, warm and eager to fulfill a lifelong dream of being a Trill host, but he will have to adapt when his life takes an unexpected turn.”
“I absolutely love him, and it was so fun working alongside him,” Barrio adds of their co-star. “Having him join the show with me was a godsend.”
“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,” co-showrunner Michelle Paradise said in a statement to ET. “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.”
“I couldn’t be more excited for or PROUD of these TWO new loves of my life if I tried. We are family!” Cruz tweeted after the casting was announced. “Love you so much!”
As mentioned, the two actors join Cruz and Rapp as the franchise’s first openly LGBTQ characters played by LGBTQ actors. In 2017, Rapp explained to ET why it’s so “deeply important” to be one-half of the first openly gay couple in a Star Trek series.
“For whatever reason, it took this long,” Rapp said. “But it was also important that it be completely part of the fabric of the story. It’s also smart of the writers and meaningful that you see them in the midst of their relationship, that they are already a mature, settled partnership living and working together -- that you get a glimpse of that in a way that’s unusual for Star Trek, in an intimate, very domestic moment like this. I’m proud that it’s so simple and direct.”
Star Trek: Discovery season 3 premieres Thursday, Oct. 15 on CBS All Access. The 13-episode season will debut weekly on Thursdays.