Welcome to the latest puzzle in my ongoing series, Eyes Open, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and other civil rights protests.
In today’s puzzle, we turn our attention to a different social movement to support other marginalized members of our society.
This week, news broke regarding the upcoming season of the latest Star Trek show and the decision to represent two long-ignored groups through both the actors cast and the characters they will be portraying.
This is a wonderful step forward in exposure for individuals and groups who are rarely allotted any screen time at all, offering a platform to inform, educate, and celebrate personal identity and gender diversity.
Star Trek has been synonymous with inclusivity for decades now, so it’s wonderful to see that tradition continue into the 21st century.
The Original Series famously featured one of the first interracial kisses on American television. After planning to leave the show after the first season, actress Nichelle Nichols was convinced by none other than Martin Luther King Jr. to continue working on the show:
Star Trek: The Next Generation continued to ask difficult questions and provide a platform for representation. Gender fluidity was brought to the fore in one episode where Dr. Crusher fell in love with a male Trill diplomat. The Trill are a symbiotic species where the host body can change, so later, when her partner is transplanted into a female body, the question of gender identity is examined.
In another episode, the Enterprise encounters an alien race with no specified gender, and “deviant” members of the society who identify as one gender or another are persecuted. The episode was a powerful conversation starter, one that served not only as a metaphor for the LGBTQIA+ community, but for gender identity as well.
Deep Space Nine continued to push forward, bringing back the Trill in the form of series regular Jadzia Dax, a Trill who had been both male and female in previous forms. Her heartfelt reunion with an old Klingon friend became a meme of positivity and acceptance years later for transgender individuals:
And now, the newest iteration of the long-running franchise continues to push forward, helping to bring underrepresented and long-dismissed groups into the mainstream. In a time where many groups feel persecuted and unheard, it’s nice to focus, if only for a moment, on a positive story like this.
There’s no trick or gimmick to this grid. It’s simply a celebration of representation and potential, two things that the Star Trek franchise have embraced for decades, and continue to welcome with open arms.
I hope this puzzle serves to both engage you as a solver and encourage you to learn more about these wonderful actors and characters on your own, as well as the topic of gender identity.
[Click this link to download a PDF of this puzzle.]
If you have suggestions for more topics for me to cover in future puzzles, please let me know. If you’re a person of color and you’d like to share a puzzle of your own, or to collaborate with me on a puzzle, please let me know.
If you’re a member of the LGBTQ community, and you have ideas, please let me know. If you’re a trans person, or a non-binary individual, and you feel underrepresented in puzzles, please let me know.
I would like this to become something bigger, but hopefully, this is at the very least a start.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for standing up, speaking up, and fighting the good fight.
Support LGBTQIA+ people.
Black lives matter.