The Outcast

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From The Archives: On March 16th, 2012, The Star Trek: TNG episode "The Outcast" marked the 20th anniversary of its initial airing.

The episode is particularly notable for being a bold, thinly veiled allegory for homosexual discrimination.

The J'naii, an androgynous humanoid race, once had two sexes, but has since "evolved" beyond genders. However, a small portion of the J'naii are still born with a "gender alignment." These individuals subsequently develop an attraction to those who align with the opposite sex.

In "The Outcast," Soren, a female-identifying J'naii born with an attraction to males, falls for Commander Riker, and he for her. When this is discovered, Soren is charged with perversion and brough before a J'naii tribunal where she (unsuccessfully) tries to defend herself and those like her.

Despite being penned a generation ago, the passionate, poignant excoriation uttered by Soren at her trial are, sadly, as necessary today as ever:

What we do is no different from what you do. We talk and laugh. We complain about work. And we wonder about growing old. We talk about our families and we worry about the future. And we cry with each other when things seem hopeless. All of the loving things that you do with each other - that is what we do. And for that we are called misfits, and deviants and criminals. What right do you have to punish us? What right do you have to change us? What makes you think you can dictate how people love each other?