I’m working on my review of this episode but I’m a bit stuck on evaluating how this show played in 2003 and whether the depiction of a third gender holds up today, in 2015.
I have no doubt that it was extremely forward-thinking for ENT and for 2003 but rewatching it in 2015 when we have so much more knowledge of trans issues, I found a couple of moments possibly cringe-worthy, a la “The Outcast.”
For example, the androgynous Cogenitor is referred to as “it,” but Trip persists on calling it “she” because “she looks more like a her than a him,” even after it chooses the name “Charles.” I’m not saying choosing that name meant choosing a masculine gender identity – just that Trip and Archer had a choice to use “Charles” as an alternative to “it,” but instead they continued to use “she.”
Phlox and Trip also repeatedly confuse the terms “sex” and “gender.”
I feel like in 2015 it’s just hard to appreciate this as a depiction of the future. It implies that 235-ish years from now the people we send into space – the representatives of humanity – are going to be totally gobsmacked by the concept of people who don’t conform to a binary gender identity.
I still think there are really valuable parts of the episode, like the whole depiction of Trip as kind of a white saviour, going in and trying to liberate the oppressed without being asked or even encouraged to do so.
But I don’t know, do others think the representation of the Cogenitor and the Enterprise crew’s response to it still hold up?