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Hosting Queerness in Star Trek: The Next Generation

As a queer preteen, I watched “The Host,” Star Trek’s initial look at the Trill. This alien race was the first time I saw my queerness, more complicated than bisexuality, expressed on television.

The Trill can be both female and male, depending on the gender of their host. I view the body-switching parasite as a metaphor for the soul, essence, or character that is found in humans. While disembodied, the Trill Odan looks somewhat like an organ. However, I interpret it as the will or consciousness that directs organs. I define my queerness as loving this essence of a person.

Yet, my love of the soul—like Beverly’s attraction to Odan—is also embodied. Odan’s signature gesture, kissing wrists, is a physical action that easily belongs to either gender. The insides of wrists have long been an obsession of mine. I have dated boys with slender, delicate wrists; some women I’ve loved have had strong, broad wrists. I even got my own wrists tattooed, hoping to attract Odan-like kisses.

In addition to feeling like I love the “Trill” inside humans, I sometimes feel my queerness is a parasite. I have been condemned by gay and straight communities for being a “fence-sitter,” guided by an unfamiliar symbiont rather than the politics of love. However, I have met other “Trill” who understood sexuality in the way that I did.

I have also met several Beverlys—straight women and gay men who could not love my host body. Encased in less elegant words, I heard the subtext of her rejection of Odan; female organs were the problem.

Yet, Beverly expressed hope that sexuality could evolve, “Perhaps, someday, our ability to love won’t be so limited.” Not only would I like to see more human “Trills” and more acceptance of “Trills,” but I also hope that our modern media will show more of my kind of queerness.

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Marjorie Jensen is an educator, writer, and editor. She is a Mills College alumna and works at UC Berkeley.

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