Again when Star Trek: Deep Area 9 initially aired on TV again within the early to mid-’90s, I by no means actually received too deeply invested within the present. Partially that was most likely as a result of I used to be too younger on the time to know a number of the extra politically-driven storylines, and in no small half as a result of I solely ever watched remoted episodes of a sequence that relied on long-running, overarching plots. Nonetheless, from the few episodes I did watch and revel in as a toddler, one character at all times caught with me as deeply attention-grabbing: Jadzia Dax.
The sequence, a spin-off of Star Trek: The Subsequent Era, is about on an area station the place a secure wormhole has been found. The wormhole permits for our crew to leap to components of area beforehand inaccessible and the station serves as a hub for diplomacy relating to species residing close to and thru the wormhole. One of many species residing near the area station is the Trill, who play a task in a large number of plot threads all through DS9.
The Trill are a humanoid species, distinguished from people by two rows of spots throughout the edges of their our bodies and faces. They’re in a position to merge themselves with a species generally known as the symbiont, gaining the recollections and talents of earlier host Trill, with their persona changing into a mix of the host and the symbiotic creature.
Jadzia is a Trill and host to a symbiont named Dax. Whereas Jadzia herself had at all times been pushed, sensible, adventurous, and caring, changing into host to Dax induced her to develop a fierce sense of loyalty, a extra developed sense of anger, and a better understanding of species she hadn’t interacted with herself whereas alive. The Dax symbiont had been hosted by seven earlier Trill previous to Jadzia, a mixture of women and men, and lots of of her episodes on DS9 give attention to how she chooses to take care of the existence of the earlier lives she has rattling round in her head. Nonetheless, to me as a toddler, in addition to rewatching the present now as an grownup, essentially the most attention-grabbing side of her character is her very current recollections of present as Curzon, a male Trill.
Whereas Jadzia can, to various levels, bear in mind her life as every of her previous host existences, the host we hear most about within the present is Curzon, and that very a lot is sensible. Curzon was the newest host of the Dax symbiont, lived an extended and full life, achieved many issues, and due to how lengthy he lived is the one host who a lot of the characters alive on the present personally met. Curzon is a really current reminiscence for Jadzia in addition to the remainder of the station’s crew, and so far as the present is worried Curzon is the one earlier host to essentially be regularly related to the plot.
I point out all this as a result of whereas rewatching the present in its entirety, I’ve more and more been viewing the character by means of the lens of being an early allegory for somebody residing life as a trans girl, with all of the struggles and adjustments that include it. Whereas the studying of the character solely actually works if we give attention to the previous life as Curzon as major earlier existence, it does make a number of components of DS9 carry further fascinating weight.
Jadzia Dax is a personality who’s carrying on the lifetime of Curzon Dax, a person who was recognized far and vast and lived his entire life as male. For a lot of characters we encounter all through the sequence, the connection between who Jadzia Dax is and who she was is difficult to shake. The station’s captain, Sisko, spends the overwhelming majority of the present’s run misgendering Jadzia, referring to her as “outdated man” regularly, a reference to who she as soon as was relatively than who she is now. It is not till the present’s remaining season, when a brand new host takes over the Dax symbiont, that he’s lastly referred to as out over this and corrected on the truth that “outdated man” is not actually applicable as a time period.
Nonetheless, Jadzia’s plot threads all through Deep Area 9 are largely not about folks treating her as her outdated identification. Most characters respect who she is now and some key episodes actually sort out her as a trans metaphor fairly positively head-on. Within the Season 2 episode “Blood Oath,” Jadzia comes face-to-face with a gaggle of Klingons who Curzon had been shut buddies with. Kor, the chief of the Klingon group, initially opens with a greeting: “Curzon, my beloved outdated pal,” whereas pulling Jadzia into a giant deep hug. Jadzia merely says, “I am Jadzia now,” and with no second thought, Kor continues the hug and smiles, saying, “Jadzia, my beloved outdated pal” as a substitute.
Kor, from this level on within the episode, at all times refers to Jadzia by her new identify, makes use of feminine pronouns for her, and would not deal with her any in a different way. She’s nonetheless the pal he remembers, he would not really feel any awkwardness, he merely listens to Jadzia’s correction on her new identification and immediately takes it to coronary heart.
This episode is one which helps the studying of Jadzia as a trans girl metaphor. It immediately addresses the truth that a few of her buddies beforehand knew her as male and below a distinct identify, however that the proper option to take care of your pal popping out is just to pay attention, embrace them as you in any other case would, and take some time to appropriate your self going ahead. It is a gorgeous template for the best way to embrace a pal who has come out as trans, aired on TV many years earlier than trans characters in media had been changing into a mainstream dialog.
Past the truth that the remainder of the present is plagued by references to Jadzia having to regulate to presenting as feminine with many years lived and socializing as male in her head, there’s one other episode value noting when learn as a trans metaphor: Season 4’s “Rejoined.” Jadzia comes face-to-face with Lenara Kahn, one other Trill, and spouse to Dax host Torias previous to Jadzia’s inheritance of the Dax symbiont.
If joined Trill enter relationships, they’re forbidden from returning to those self same relationships as soon as the symbiont strikes to a brand new host. That is very a lot only a plot machine thrown in to trigger battle on this particular episode, but it surely does so very successfully by making a state of affairs the place a trans girl metaphor character is drawn in the direction of a forbidden lesbian relationship that would result in exile and their symbionts being refused future hosts.
Lenara and Torias had been married throughout his merging with the Dax symbiont in a straight-presenting relationship. After Torias, after which Curzon is changed by Jadzia as host, the connection turns into taboo, with society able to shun each if the connection continues. The episode is an actual spotlight of the sequence, with the back-and-forth of those two girls navigating if they’re prepared to face the implications of societal expulsion for loving one another feeling significantly forward-thinking and related. Jadzia’s ex-wife by no means dismisses that she’s now feminine, or that she nonetheless loves her; they simply brazenly take care of the very fact their relationship is completely different now they usually should resolve in the event that they’re comfy with how society would view them collectively. For an episode of TV written within the mid-’90s, it actually does a terrific job of feeling related many years later.
Whereas Jadzia Dax would not survive the entire sequence of Deep Area 9, changed within the remaining season by a brand new feminine host when actor Terry Farrell determined to go away the present, Ezri Dax (Nicole de Boer) continues the trans metaphor by being extra assertive and proactive in guaranteeing folks respect her feminine identification. She’s a lady, and in contrast to Jadzia who feels extra like an early transition metaphor within the methods she generally stays quiet when misgendered, Ezri feels extra like somebody deeper into transition, extra confidently guaranteeing she’s revered as who she is, not who she was.
Extra Star Trek: Deep Area 9
Deep Area 9 actually is not excellent as a trans constructive allegorical present, with the episode “Revenue and Lace” particularly utilizing gender transition as a punchline fairly tastelessly, however general I’ve been loving rewatching it. As a trans girl, getting to observe Jadzia Dax navigate the world, remembered by these round her to have been beforehand male however nonetheless being accepted as one of the crucial badass but caring girls on the ship, has been actually comforting. I really like Jadzia, and getting to observe her story by means of a trans-positive lens solely serves to make me take pleasure in her extra.