Episode 161: Autism and Trek

Guests Jessie Gender and Claire Little join us to talk about Autistic coding and characters in the Star Trek universe who speak to an Autistic audience.

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Hosts: Grace and Andi

Jessie Gender – @jessiegender
Claire Little – @isolinearchick

Editor:  Andi

Transcription: Grace

Download Transcript: PDF or Word


  6 comments for “Episode 161: Autism and Trek

  1. Hello! I would love to see a transcript for this episode as well. I have difficulties following what is said, and I would love to be able to access this discussion. Thank you for your hard work!

  2. Will there be a transcript? Am I just bad at finding transcripts? Please tell me there is/
    will be a transcript because otherwise I can’t share this because so many of our autistic community members have vision and/or processing things going on.

  3. There’s always going to be people who think the part of “adulting” is being cynical. But with mindfulness becoming more mainstream these days, most mental health professionals know the benefits of child-like wonder. That’s part of “beginner’s mind.” Take heart in that.

  4. I always love looking for neurodiverse characters in media and Star Trek, and was delighted to see this episode topic pop up soon after I started listening to the podcast. I’ve been meaning to comment since March, but kept getting side-tracked. So much of this episode was just relatable autism things related to examples from Star Trek, and it was wonderful. I’ve long had an agreement with a friend that every Star Trek show has at least the one autistic-coded character, and it’s held up quite well. Data and Spock really are the quintessential autistic-coded characters in Star Trek and understandably took up a lot of the episode. I did love hearing several other characters mentioned, including one-off characters. I would say that I definitely read Tam Elbran from “Tin Man” as autistic and while watching the episode thought that it was very cool to see a hyperempathetic (quite literally) autistic-coded character, given the stereotype that we can’t feel empathy. I’m always up for Barclay love, and really loved hearing Phlox mentioned because I definitely read him as autistic (or whatever the alien equivalent is), but haven’t seen many other people mention it. I also appreciated hearing Bashir being mentioned, and, given that I just recently finished a watch through of DS9, I have a lot of thoughts. I absolutely agree that pre-augmentation Bashir sounds very autistic, but would argue that he is still very much autistic; maybe presenting differently, but still autistic. Combining this with his vehement condemnation of his parents’ reaction to having a developmentally disabled child, an argument is being made that ‘curing’ is not something to be desired, and doesn’t even work. And there are connections to be drawn with masking and the hiding the augmentations, and room to explore internalized ableism in regards to episodes like “Melora” and “Chrysalis” (both of which definitely have issues). Speaking of “Chrysalis”, one part of that episode I love is where Sarina says that Odo said he loves Kira in his own way, when they hold hands, which to me really speaks to how there are often communication differences between autistic and allistic people that can cause confusion. Odo is another character I’d bring up to the autistic-coded discussion, along with Elnor and most of the Lower Decks gang; namely Tendi and Rutherford (I mean, that moment in the first episode were he gets distracted from his date by a cool engineering thing). I could probably go on, but don’t want to drag this out too long. I really hope that you’re able to address this topic again sometime because there’s a lot to dig into, and it’s an excellent excuse for info-dumping.

    • I agree about Odo and Bashir, though I don’t recall Bashir being described as autistic pre augmentation so much as intellectually disabled. People with ID also exist and are not necessarily autistic. But maybe I’m misremembering. Was disappointed to not see any mention of Odo and the assumption that Bashir is absolutely no longer autistic, when the most “recognizably” autistic characters brought up have already been discussed many times and are often not treated very well by the characters we’re supposed to identify with, because of their “autistic” traits. I’m also just a bit frustrated with the long delays on transcripts (I assume some are just delayed rather than will never show up) when the podcast talks so much about inclusivity. I get that transcripts take time and mental energy, but again especially when you specifically discuss disability and then don’t include them—eh.

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