In a remarkable stride towards enhanced representation, The Walt Disney Company has illuminated the Star Wars universe with its first-ever transgender actor in a significant role.
The prior year saw Zoe Terakes, a transgender and non-binary actor, gracing the screen in the forthcoming Ironheart. Terakes was the second openly trans actor to become part of the Marvel cinematic universe, following Zack Barack's appearance in Spider-Man: Far From Home in 2019.
Similarly, Lucasfilm is steadily diversifying its cast. The upcoming series, The Acolyte, promises unprecedented diversity in the Star Wars universe, following the celebrated Andor that features the universe's inaugural prominent lesbian couple.
The Acolyte carries the torch of diversity in Star Wars
A strong wave of diversity is set to pervade the far-off galaxy with The Acolyte. British actress Abigail Thorn, as per United Agents, her agency, is slated to portray Ensign Eurus in The Acolyte, setting a new precedent as the franchise's first-ever transgender actor in a non-trivial role.
Thorn becomes the second trans actor to participate in a Lucasfilm project, following Talisa Garcia's involvement in Wilow. Furthermore, the non-binary actor Amanda Steinberg is also part of The Acolyte, marking the series as one of the most inclusive.
These represent significant steps towards enhancing transgender representation in the Star Wars universe. In recent years, the franchise's publishing has pioneered introducing characters who identify outside the gender binary.
Even though set before The Phantom Menace, The High Republic era has infused fresh concepts, planets, and events into the franchise, simultaneously offering a myriad of diverse new characters and boosting LGBTQIA+ representation.
In 2021, Star Wars lauded the non-binary Jedi duo, Terec and Cerec, during the Transgender Day of Visibility. They are clear in their dedication to trans rights and diversifying representation, stating:
"In honor of #TransDayOfVisibility we're proud to unveil an exclusive cover highlighting Terec and Ceret, trans non-binary Jedi, currently featured in Marvel's The High Republic comic. We support trans lives and we are passionate and committed to broadening our representation in a galaxy far far way."
Star Wars continues to break boundaries and expand representation
A universe inhabited by aliens and sentient non-human species should not shy away from representing transgender individuals. Echoing the popular sentiment among fans, Star Wars should be an inclusive haven where people of varied backgrounds, ethnicities, and identities feel acknowledged and welcomed.
It's comforting that Lucasfilm is heeding this call for diversity and fulfilling its promise to widen representation in this beloved galaxy. Recent ventures like Andor, featuring the franchise's most visible lesbian couple, Vel and Cinta, have enriched the series with a diverse cast, including Mexican actor Diego Luna.
However, Disney's commitment to safeguarding the rights of transgender individuals worldwide needs to be steadfast. Previous instances, such as the resistance of Disney's former CEO Bob Chapek to criticize Florida's controversial Don't Say Gay bill led to an internal uproar and his eventual dismissal.
Bob Iger, his successor, has since redoubled Disney's commitment to inclusivity, reaffirming the company's mission to entertain diverse families worldwide amidst criticism over "agenda-driven content."
In an increasingly intolerant world towards transgender individuals and those challenging traditional gender norms, it's crucial and inspiring when prominent franchises and corporations work towards normalizing non-traditional gender identities in the face of adversity.
The Acolyte is expected to be released on Disney+ sometime in 2024.