Star Trek: Strange New Worlds has just announced a guest role starring trans actor Jesse James Keitel (Big Sky, Queer as Folk) as a non-binary character named Dr. Aspen. According to Variety, Dr. Aspen had once worked as a Starfleet counselor, but after their experience on the Federation border, shifted to becoming a humanitarian aid worker. They also may have a surprising connection to Spock (Ethan Peck). This episode, the show's seventh, will be directed by trans filmmaker Sydney Freeland (Reservation Dogs) and will air on June 16 on Paramount+.
Star Trek has had a long history of breaking boundaries when it comes to showcasing diversity in space, however the representation of queer and trans characters as main characters has been a more recent addition to the Trek world. In 2017, Star Trek: Discovery launched with Star Trek's first regularly appearing same-sex couple in Lieutenant Commander Paul Stamets and Dr. Hugh Culber. Later in 2020, Discovery also introduced the first trans and non-binary characters in Star Trek history in Grey (Ian Alexander) and Adira (Blue Del Barrio).
While there is a long way to go in getting better and more thorough representation of non-binary and trans characters on the screen, Star Trek seems to be making a point of it, making sure to represent the trans community both in front of and behind the camera.
We are certainly looking forward to watching Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and meeting Dr. Aspen. Hopefully, we'll be able to see them in more than one episode in the future!
Interested in getting into some queer comics? Check out Popverse's guide to LGBTQ+ superhero comics!