Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Outcast

TNG Season 5 Episode 17
Air Date: March 16th, 1992

Cmdr. Riker is helping the J'naii people find a missing shuttlecraft in a  pocket of null space. He worked closely with a J'naii named Soren to map the space using a shuttle by shooting phasers into the pocket so they can define it's boundaries.

The episode isn't about null space and rescue operations though. The J'naii are a race that has no gender. But spending time with Soren. Riker learns about how their society works. At one point in their history the J'naii did have gender but many years ago they evolved beyond that construct and found different ways to reproduce and interact. Riker initially thinks that this would be more boring and less "pleasurable" but Soren quickly discounts these misconceptions.

Where the episode takes a turn though is that Soren tells Riker that some J'naii still experience a gender identity and that she identifies as female and is falling for Riker. She tells Riker that her people don't tolerate this and if she is ever caught they would surgically and chemically change her to become like everyone else, "normal".

Once the shuttle crew are rescued, one of the J'naii leaders recognize that Soren is acting odd around Cmdr. Riker and they put her on trial. They determine she needs to be altered. Riker attempts a rescue operation but is too late.

While gender identity is a large part of the topic of the episode, I felt that the episode was also bringing the issues of homosexuality to light. I was 14 when this episode was made and using the term "gay" was a typical insult I would hear people used by friends and acquaintances in school. Even today this episode is still relevant. We hear stories of politicians supporting conversion therapy and whether true or false, it is still being talked about.

There is one big message that I take away from this episode, and it is something I have come to live my life by. Everyone has the right to do whatever they choose as long as they are not hurting or imposing themselves on others. If two people want to love each other, or identify in some way, that is their business and we as a people should not interfere. It is kind of a parallel to the prime directive.


"My parents were pilots. I was flying with them before I could walk. As soon as I was old enough, I entered flight school. Krite was my instructor." - Soren
"He had a good student." - Cmdr. Riker
"H"? Commander, there are no he's or she's in a species without gender. " - Soren
"Okay. For two days, I've been trying to construct sentences without personal pronouns. Now I give up. What should I use, it? To us, that's rude." - Cmdr. Riker
"We use a pronoun which is neutral. I do not think there is really a translation."

"I notice you tend to have longer hair, and you arrange it more elaborately. And you apply color to your bodies." - Soren
"Color?" - Doctor Crusher
"You put color on your mouths. And your eyes, your cheeks and your fingernails. The men don't." - Soren
"That's true." - Doctor Crusher
"Then it is up to women to attract the men?" - Soren
"Oh, no. Men want to be attractive too, believe me; they just go about it differently." - Doctor Crusher
"No color." - Soren
"No color. They like to pretend they're not doing anything to attract a woman, even when it's the most important thing on their minds." - Doctor Crusher

"I remember when I was very young, before I knew what I was, there was a rumour in my school that one of the students preferred a gender, in that case, male. The children started making fun of him, and every day they were more cruel They could tell he was afraid and somehow that seemed to encourage them. One morning in class, he appeared, bleeding and in ripped clothes. He said he had fallen down. And of course the school authorities found out and took him away, and gave him psychotectic treatments. When he came back, he stood in front of the whole school and told us how happy he was now that he had been cured. After that, I realized how dangerous it was to be different. And once I got older, and knew what I was, I was terrified. I have had to live with that fear ever since. " - Soren

No comments:

Post a Comment