‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ To Introduce Nonbinary Character Played By Jesse James Keitel

Once again the Star Trek franchise will embrace diversity with the introduction of a new character on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.

Jesse James Keitel as Dr. Aspen

First reported by Variety (and confirmed officially by Paramount+), Jesse James Keitel (Big Sky, Queer as Folk), who is a trans woman, will be appearing as a guest star on episode 7 of Strange New Worlds, debuting on June 16th. Keitel will be playing a nonbinary character named Dr. Aspen. According to Variety, Aspen “once worked as a Starfleet counselor, but whose experiences on the Federation border prompted them to shift careers and work as a humanitarian aid worker.” In the episode helmed by trans director Sydney Freeland (Reservation Dogs), Dr. Aspen “will develop a surprising connection” with Ethan Peck’s Spock.

Jesse James Keitel at New York City premiere of Strange New Worlds

Keitel made history as the first openly trans series regular on primetime network TV in the ABC series Big Sky. She is now starring in Peacock’s revival of Queer as Folk, which debuts on Jun 9th.

Jesse James Keitel in Big Sky

Keitel reacted to the official announcement by saying it has been a lifelong dream to be part of Star Trek.

The inclusion of Keitel’s Dr. Aspen continues the efforts seen in the new series to embrace LGBTQ representation in the Star Trek Universe. Just last week, Jess Bush’s Christine Chapel was revealed to date both men and women, and the most recent season of Picard included a romantic storyline with Raffi Musiker (Michelle Hurd) and Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan). And last year Star Trek: Discovery won a GLAAD Award for season three, which introduced the nonbinary character Adira (Blu Del Barrio) and trans character Grey (Ian Alexander), joining with the ship’s same-sex couple Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and Dr. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz).

Jeri Ryan as Seven and Michelle Hurd in Star Trek: Picard

New episodes of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds debut on Thursdays exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S., Latin America, Australia and the Nordics. The series airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave in Canada. In New Zealand, it is available on TVNZ, and in India on Voot SelectStrange New Worlds will arrive via Paramount+ in select countries in Europe when the service launches later this year, starting with the UK and Ireland in June.


Find more Strange New Worlds news and reviews on TrekMovie.

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I love brave identities. From Tumblr to Star Trek!

Excellent, I’m excited for the new Queer as Folk too.

Love her on Big Sky!

The would be so cool to have her as a recurring character as Chappel’s love interest.

Dr Korby though?

I don’t think these writers really care that much. The show has already broken that canon since Chapel is dating other people now and she’s clearly not engaged to him in this period like she was in TOS. So what would it change at this point?

The writers are just changing whatever canon to develop the characters more. Which I’m OK with, but I wish they stopped pretending the show is following canon. It’s not outside of the broad sense. The two Chapel’s act so differently from each other, you would think one came from a different universe.

We have no idea from “What Are Little Girls Made Of” when Chapel and Korby became engaged. They could introduce Korby in the show’s last season and still fit the canon of TOS.

The fact headlines are still made for LGBTQ+ introductions signals we still have a long way to go. Hopefully one day it becomes so commonly accepted that it’s just part of everyday life.

Star Trek has done a great job recently with representation and I’m not surprised this will continue with SNW.

Well cbs / paramount like to parade their lgbtq arround like prize show ponies, so they can pound their chest shouting from the roof how great they are for being so inclusive.
Kinda leaves one questioning is cbs really being inclusive to benefit lgbtq representation?, or are they just doing it for more self serving interests because its become a trendy thing to do.

Your reaction confirms for me exactly why this needs to be done by P+.

It’s the last… If they were really trying to do smtg good for some people or the society , they’d think about ways to introduce characters or write stories about peopl who still stand in the Schmuddelecke and break new ground. Doing something trendy is not special nor brave. It’s just part of marketing.

“Schmuddelecke” probably doesn’t get you a lot of replies from the English speaking fan community, but you’ve earned points in my book, mein Freund! 😂

That being said though, the more positively written diversity, the better, I say! 🏳️‍🌈

Hehe, I actually translated that to English and got the same expression, wondering a bit, but thinking of Kindergarten or Angst I decided to keep the word.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to bring the normality of diversity into media. But it’s still extremely limited and superficial. Discrimination may start with gender, sex, sexual orientation or skin colour, but it doesn’t end there. I’d wish Star Trek to look more into the future, figure out problems of society that most people don’t think of and set trends.

Well written sci-fi has always done a good job as an allegory for the audiences of its time, and done even better when it held up over the decades that followed. I wonder, what kind of problems, issues, or angles would you wish for them to tackle, specifically (especially if yet more “unforeseen” to even arise)?

If you’ve got a great, creative angle for a storyline, you might want to think about submitting it to the powers that be! Don’t know if they’re open to that kind of approach anymore, but the Trek of yesteryear really thrived on some of those submissions. 🖖😉

They could make a character for example that’s really annoying to everyone, including the audience therefore being excluded by the crew. Keep that some episodes and then change the perspective and showing what happened in his life and made him that way. Happy End: Development to the most trusted crewman (or woman). Sad end: everyone turning the back on him/her and the guy killing himself in a way that no one of the crew ever knows or even gets a clue of his suffering. Just the audience would know.
I mean it’s hard to bring that into Trek, but since the current producers don’t really care for plot holes it would be possible. Or just something like that. Something that really makes people think. Something where the audience says “wow, I haven’t thought about that, ever.”

Point taken, but historically Star Trek has never really done that. I think you’re confusing it with actual, literary science fiction.

That…. was a bad take. No.

Who is “pounding their chests” in this matter, aside from yourownself?

It couldn’t possibly be that they’re trying to celebrate people in marginalized communities that have only just begun getting actually visible roles, which Paramount has had a hand in casting. Just let them be celebrated and introduced. It doesn’t hurt anyone.

No, it really doesn’t “leave one questioning” anything other than why someone’s looking for something to object to.

This. Just have the characters. Make them good characters and treat it as the future (hopefully) will – as just a regular part of life. One day.

Even NASA it doing it by parading the fact that a woman and POC will walk on the moon as part of the Artemis Program. I really wish they wouldn’t and just let the press pick up on it on their own. The fact NASA keeps highlighting it worries me.

I never even knew that, so I just found out about this by you parading that info here.

Whilst I don’t disagree with the long term goal it is worth remembering that it is currently Pride Month so it does still make sense that they are releasing this casting news now to coincide with a period of celebration for LGBTQ+ culture.

Excellent point!

I’m sure most of the creatives are sincere but from the business perspective it will be about money because *that’s how capitalism works*.

However if this is one of those cases where what capitalism demands and the right thing to do are in alignment I’m not going to knock it.

cough, cough, marketing, cough cough, corporate representation…

Well. It’s nice to see some more diversity, but it’s a shame they didn’t get a non-binary actor to play a non-binary character.

Keitel is non-binary and uses she/her pronouns. Big Sky made her the first nonbinary actor to play a nonbinary series regular on primetime television.[

WTF???

Your information is wrong, dude.

Well someone better tell the Advocate, pretty much every news outlet & Jesse herself…she says she’s a Non-Binary transfeminine actor who uses She/Her They/Them pronouns.

https://www.advocate.com/television/2020/11/13/jesse-james-keitel-makes-nonbinary-tv-history-big-sky?amp

“she says she’s a Non-Binary”

Exactly…not sure what you are talking about then because I was point that out to Cass myself?

Why….they are an actor. They are acting.

What are you talking about? Keitel is non-binary. Did you not read the article before responding?

Why so condescending, friend? You could have simply replied, “Actually, she is” and cited your source.

Source? The article above. LOL

What the heck, people?

hahaha. Yeah, but is TrekMovie an “official” source?

(Ducks phaser fire, scurries away…)

At what point did anyone say anything was official? Paul said to cite a source. I did. So your comment is a complete non sequitur.

Again, so condescending. Perhaps you need to get a kitten (or a tribble).

If you don’t like the tone of my replies… well, actually, I’ll sleep just fine. Feel free not to read them.

Cool. Can’t wait to see the episode. This show has been great (beside the small point of a federation doctor mutilating and harming life forms for “fun” with M’benga’s space station fly fishing trip that seemed an odd and contemporary choice anchored in our less enlightened “primitive” 21st century culture.)

I’m pretty sure fishing wouldn’t just end just because they don’t enslave animals anymore. I do have a hard time seeing hunting being part of the 23rd or 24th century but humans still eat meat just the same unless I’m forgetting something.

Since they have food replicators or synthesizers (?) in the future, this shouldn’t be a thing. They just eat replicated meat. With 3d printing I can see this coming in our near future.

Fishing isn’t done just for the food, though. See “catch and release.”

I still think they eat regular meat though, at least sometimes. We see people like Riker, Sisko and now Pike cooking. Is it just replicated meat? Sisko dad has a restaurant, I imagine there is real meat there. Or maybe it’s just made in the lab or something?

At least 80 years after a Strange New Worlds people will still be fishing: In 2344, young Will Riker & his dad went on a fishing trip. Will was able to hook a large fish, but His dad insisted on reeling the fish in. And on Nepenthe his daughter hunted “bunnicorns” (rabbits with horns).

Great examples! I forgot about the Riker story too.

It is interesting though, some think Star Trek is an ultra left society to the point killing animals for food is no longer a thing. And I agree, with replicators it doesn’t have to be a thing anymore. But no one comes across as strictly vegans or vegetarians in the 23rd or 24th century either. But even if I can believe humans no longer kill animals for food I can’t imagine it being a Federation decree in every society.

You’re right. That’s a small point.

Why? Fishing is fishing. People will continue to catch and eat fish for as long as people and fish both continue to exist.

Chapel was revealed to date both men and women”? Huh? How did I miss that?
Well, since English is not my native language, I might not notice that.
On the other hand, there was a subtle “female bromance” between Chapel and Ortegas.
Nevertheless, since they are dating characters from different species, this shouldn’t be a thing anyway.

She referred to an ex-girlfriend.

Just write a real character and don’t use their character to be a trite metaphor like Discovery did with Grey. That’s such a low bar to clear, I am optimistic SNW will set a good example for the community.

I was very disappointed with Grey. They made such a big deal about the character, who ended up bringing nothing to the show, was portrayed by a bad actor, and then just left. Grey was a dud and a mistake, which was frustrating since it was exciting at first to see such representation.

I do like those actors in star trek series. I don`t like the fuzz its made about it. I would much more appreciate if they focus on good stories.

Yes, that’s what makes it so annoying. I often get a feeling that LGBTQ+ persons are used as an instrument by companies to parrade their unearned virtues. Tell a good story and all will be forgiven

This^. I could care less about a character’s sexual preference(s), as long as there’s a good story to be had.

I hope this isn’t just pandering to get views, like that terrible kiss between 7 and Raffy that came out of nowhere. That was some terrible pandering. There was no hint of chemistry even between them. Just like the writers were like, oh.. it’s the last episode… we need something big…. how about random lesbians? Picard and Q have waaaaaay more chemistry and honestly I thought they were going to kiss too, the way that finale was going…

I agree that Seven and Raffi were a pointless coupling. There is zero chemistry between those actors and between those characters. What a missed opportunity.

It ticks a box though, so who cares if it’s totally hollow, it’s where we are now with modern TV and film.

A show where they fit in a non binary character very naturally was in Another Life, which is like a sci fi type alien invading earth type show. Anyways the relationship with zayne and the fat Mexican dude (maybe horhay or hesus or sorry i forget) was pretty cute, and not forced.

As long as the story works, and they don’t make the same mistakes with Adira and Grey.

Uh, wouldn’t the first trans a trans actress to be a series regular have been Candace Cayne on Dirty Sexy Money?

I think since she was in less than 1/2 the episodes it would be a recurring role, not series regular.

There was Nicole Maines on ‘Supergirl’. Years ago there was a trans character on a UK soap called ‘Coronation Street’ but this was long enough ago that I couldn’t be sure they did it right and cast a trans actress. There’s also Laverne Cox who’s done numerous roles including on ‘Orange Is The New Black’. There will also be other cases where the actress is trans but they aren’t out or at least not to the public.

I’m sure there will be many other examples.

I don’t care.

I would like to see the Binars again… They are also genderless. Although I have to say that the term nonbinary Binars doesn’t really compute :-)

I love it when Trek shows the great diversity of the human condition…plus it freaks the right out completely and we get to hear the true ugly conservative rant as they pop blood vessels attached to their beady little brains.

Spoken like a truly open-minded, pluralistic, enlightened individual

Sorry, might be a bit of anger brought on by my two brothers who have been life long Star Trek fans suddenly turned hating it because of some conservative editorial piece that told them to be ageist it.
But I suppose this is the truth of the world we live in today.

Not sure about this. I would rather focus on the cast of characters, rather than needlessly expand the roster. Should have established the character first from the jump.

Will this person be a guest or a recurring character? Because to add another regular cast member would be a head-scracther because they are already not making enough use of Number One, Uhura and Hemmer!

its not very often that someone as naturally beautiful as Jesse James Keitel comes along !