In advance of The Mandalorian’s second season, which begins streaming on Disney+ tomorrow, October 30th, 2020, anticipation has been mired by controversy arising from returning actor Gina Carano and rumored cast addition Rosario Dawson.
While The Beat currently plans to continue covering The Mandalorian’s sophomore season, we feel it is important to note and consider the issues surrounding both of the actors.
Carano, who plays the role of Cara Dune on The Mandalorian, has made transphobic jokes on Twitter. In explaining the joke and the reasoning behind it to a follower, Carano stated that she was “not against trans lives at all. They need to find less abusive representation.”
People often defend transphobia by insisting that they were driven to it because they were “attacked” by trans people who have requested not to be misgendered, harassed, or disrespected.
The implication – that trans people only deserve respect if they are “polite in asking for it” – is a common technique for perpetuating the oppression of people who are (justifiably) upset about the fact that they are being oppressed.
The pattern goes like this:
- A high-profile (HP) person says something (intentionally or unintentionally) harmful to a marginalized group.
- Representatives or allies of the marginalized group call for the comment to be removed, and for a recognition of the harm caused (in the hopes of mitigating the possibility of additional harm, either from future actions of the HP themselves or from some of the people who might benefit from the modeling of a trans-friendly apology made by the HP).
- Instead of apologizing, the HP reacts defensively, frequently doubling down on the harmful comment and/or insisting that the marginalized people were “too abusive” when asking for the comment to be removed.
This may amount to a bad couple of days on Twitter for the HP, who will then presumably unwind on their private quarantine island (or their Secluded UK Castle) whilst counting their stacks of money. Shielded by privilege, the HP can remain blissfully ignorant of the reality faced by those in the marginalized group: that comments like these can have literal life-and-death consequences.
People die because of transphobia. This is not an exaggeration.
Furthermore, the implication that basic respect and human rights are only owed to those who ask for them “politely” is an incredibly dangerous one. Plus, the HP is the person who defines what constitutes “polite,” meaning they can easily move the goal posts and insist that those advocating for their rights are being “rude,” “abusive,” etc.
Of course, the HP could always admit that they’ve made a mistake – there’s no reason to double down. It is possible to apologize, note what you’ve learned, and strive to be a more accepting person in the future – one who works to make everyone feel included within their community.
Carano remains unapologetic.
Dawson’s situation is complicated, because she may not even appear in The Mandalorian. While Lucasfilm has not officially confirmed whether or not Dawson will be appearing in the second season of The Mandalorian, she is rumored to be playing fan-favorite character Ahsoka Tano (voiced by Ashley Eckstein in her animated incarnation on Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels).
In October 2019, a transgender man who had been working as a handyman for the Dawsons filed a lawsuit alleging the family subjected him to transphobic assault and abuse.
The family responded by releasing a statement later that month through their lawyer stating the allegations were “baseless.”
As of October 9th, 2020, the lawsuit remains pending.
Is The Mandalorian for everyone?
I’ve been a fan of Star Wars for basically as long as I can remember. Literally, one of my earliest memories is sneaking out of bed and catching my parents watching the end of their Return of the Jedi VHS. In the spring of 1999, my father and I attended my first ever convention: the inaugural Star Wars Celebration at Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum in Denver.
As a trans woman, it hurts that I cannot (and never have been able to) see myself represented anywhere onscreen in the vast Star Wars galaxy. And while there is better queer representation on the page (although still no trans women), it hurts me that the next generation of trans girls apparently won’t be able to see themselves onscreen in the Star Wars galaxy, either.
If this lack of representation isn’t enough to make trans fans feel as though they aren’t welcome within the Star Wars community, the fact that Lucasfilm continues to work with actors who are unrepentantly bigoted towards trans people surely drives that point home.
In addition to the dearth of representation and continued work for people with transphobic baggage, there’s also deafening silence from the mothership: not even so much as a hollow statement accompanied by a trans flag has been officially issued by Lucasfilm.
As a trans woman who is a fan of Star Wars, this begs the question: is it worth investing time, money, and energy into something that literally will not recognize one’s existence?
While The Mandalorian may be spinning its wheels in the long, long ago, Star Trek is making strides toward our future. Both Grey, a transgender character played by trans actor Ian Alexander, and Adira, a non-binary character played by non-binary actor Blu del Barrio, are appearing in the third season of Star Trek: Discovery.
Welcome Blu del Barrio and @ianaIexander to the #StarTrekFamily! They will be playing Adira, Star Trek's first non-binary character, and Gray, Star Trek's first transgender character in #StarTrekDiscovery Season 3. Learn more about Blu in this @glaad Q&A: https://t.co/gd54tVl8p0 pic.twitter.com/WroJ32n7Cp
— Star Trek on CBS All Access (@startrekcbs) September 2, 2020
In fact, Adira makes their first appearance in “People of Earth,” an episode directed by Number One himself – Jonathan Frakes – which was released for streaming on CBS All Access today, on October 29th, 2020.
This article will be updated throughout the second season of The Mandalorian as relevant information comes to light.