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Doctor Who’s new season is right around the corner. As per usual they are trying to keep a lot of the season under wraps. However, a piece of casting news was just released that marks a milestone in a series that is already over 50 years old. Bethany Black, a transgender comedian has been cast in a guest role for the upcoming season.
Entertainment Weekly has the story of Black’s casting. She, like so many who have appeared recently on the long running series, has been a fan of the show since since childhood. Peter Davison was her first Doctor. Black’s primary focus has been stand-up comedy, though she has done a bit of acting previously, including a part on Banana for Russell T. Davies, the man who brought Doctor Who back to TV in 2005.
Nothing is known about the role that Black will play, beyond that the role is not a transgender character. Of course, it’s Doctor Who so that’s hardly saying much. If Black is playing an alien of any kind then the character could be male, female, without a gender of any kind, or playing some new gender that a particular race of aliens happens to have. That’s the beauty of science fiction. You can do anything with it. Heck, even the timelord’s themselves are transgender. Really the only thing you could say with certainty is that Captain Jack Harkness would probably be attracted to Black’s character if they met. The Doctor Who canon has created a future in which divisions like gender, or even species are unimportant to many. John Barrowman’s character of Jack Harness from the show’s early seasons (following the return) is described as “omnisexual.” He just doesn’t limit his options.
The fact that Black is transgender is not relevant to the character she’s playing is, if anything, another step forward for transgender actors. She’s just an actor who auditioned for a role, and got it because she was the best one for the part. Transgender actors have slowly but surely been making strides in Hollywood and beyond. Most noticeably Laverne Cox received an Emmy nomination for her role in Orange is the New Black, the first transgender actor to receive the honor.
It’s great to see a transgender actor getting recognized on such a global platform as Doctor Who. Now, if they could just get a bit more diversity behind the camera too, they’ll be in great shape. Doctor Who’s 9th season (or 35th depend on how you count) will premiere on September 19th on BBC One in the UK and BBC America in the US.