Star Wars Original Non-binary/Transgender Character

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Revan, the fan-favourite character who debuted in the Knights of the Old Republic video game.

Disclaimer: Spoilers for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic ahead. If you have not played this, I argue, Star Wars game with the best story ever and wish to avoid spoilers, do not read further before you have played it.

One of the subjects that have been getting the spotlight in recent years is the representation of diversity. In terms of the Star Wars universe it is a fact that, for instance, there had been no LGBTQ+ characters in the old films or even novels, comics or games. It was simply a part of that era that LGBTQ+ characters would not appear in the mainstream culture like this.

These days the situation is different. It is easy for the Star Wars writers to make it part of a newly introduced character’s identity that they are LGBTQ+. There however have also been attempts to subtly hint at some of the older characters, whose gender identity or sexuality has not been addressed in the films, to be for example something else than heterosexual. An (in)famous example may be Lando Calrissian who was defined by his actor Donald Glover as pansexual.

This kind of “retconning” may seem forced to the audience. Yet the alternative is that we would end up having two completely different “universes”: one of the original two trilogies and of the main characters who are all cisgender and straight, and on the other hand the mass of various supporting characters from new books, TV shows, games and comics where about one-third of them are LGBTQ+. It could not even be attributed to a shift of cultural norms in the universe (say, pre-Empire and post-Empire), because new stories continue being written about all the Galactic eras, and all of them include LGBTQ+ characters.

Therefore to avoid having a universe where for some inexplicable reasons only the central characters are cisgender and heterosexual but the rest aren’t, it makes sense to look for established characters who could be pointed out with “look! This one has been non-binary all along!” The trick is to find characters where it would not seem forced. And there is one fan-favourite character who not only could be a good pick but actually should be.

Who Is Revan?

Revan is one of the characters whose popularity among many fans outshines even the likes of Vader or Luke. They appeared in the 2003 video game Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) but found their way into the gallery of Star Wars’s most famous characters. Their story includes the best of classic Star Wars tropes. Revan was once a Jedi who disobeyed the Jedi Council and went into war against the Mandalorians that threatened the Old Republic. Just as the Jedi Council feared, the exposure to war and the desire to defeat the enemy at any cost drove Revan to the Dark Side.

Eventually, Revan’s apprentice Malak turned on Revan in a traditional Sith fashion. He usurped the mantle of the Dark Lord of the Sith for himself and unleashed the attack on the Old Republic. That is where Knights of the Old Republic‘s story starts. As the main protagonist of this story-driven RPG you travel the Galaxy and help the Jedi stop Darth Malak’s onslaught. One of the game’s chief devices is the richness of dialogue, choices that matter and high customizability of the main character.

And this is the crucial moment. As the story progresses, you eventually learn that Revan did not die as it was presumed. Instead, the Jedi captured Revan who had suffered a memory loss and they decided to give Revan a second chance. In a true “I-am-your-father”-moment, you learn that you are Revan.

Nonbinary/Trans Is The Solution

And that brings us back to the question of Revan’s non-binary/transgender nature. Revan has not yet been re-introduced into Disney’s canon, but given their popularity, it will likely happen – just like it happened with Thrawn or Ahsoka – not if, but when. And once it happens, official sources will have to figure out, among other things, what pronoun to use for Revan. But in the game, you can play either male or female, depending on your preference. No matter whether one opts for one or the other, it will ignore half of the players’ experience.

And that is where making Revan either non-binary or trans would not be a forced push for diversity, but rather a welcome solution to the dilemma.

Hardcore canon nitpickers may point out that once in the past, Revan was decided to be made a “he” – around 2011, in a follow-up novel to Knights of the Old Republic published by KOTOR’s writer, Drew Karpyshyn, and in the subsequent Star Wars: The Old Republic online game. But even if we were to consider these appearances of Revan canon after the 2012 reset, we could easily decide that Revan identified as male at this point and for example as female before (during the KOTOR events). Indeed, the sequel to KOTOR, Knights of the Old Republic 2 (where Revan appears only as a historical figure), gives the player the option to choose what Revan’s gender was, but the default assumption is that Revan was female.

In Knights of the Old Republic 2, when discussing the history of Revan, the NPCs presume Revan to have been female but the player can correct them.

And would it not be fitting for someone who had gone through being both a Sith and a Jedi to have fluid identity also in other respects? Or imagine Revan picking a different gender after their memory loss simply because that gender felt more natural to them than their given gender in their previous life. There are countless ways of how this narrative could be explored. If done well, Revan’s story could be presented as a story of a transgender person’s self-discovery.

So let me finish with these words: when Revan is reintroduced into the canon, it would make a lot of sense for them to be either transgender or non-binary. It is the one case where it would actually make more sense than any other option.

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Rostislav Kurka
Rostislav is a Protestant theologian and a self-trained Sith, counting Jan Hus, Dorothee Sölle, Darth Revan and Darth Traya among his main influences. He hails from the hundred-towered city of Prague, where he had spent a large part of his life creating worlds and inspiring young generations to roleplay. His involvement in organising children's camps led him to accidentally writing a Lord of the Rings musical, which made him temporarily famous, and a Three Musketeer-Jedi fanfilm, which didn't. He has recently moved to the frozen waste of Finland, because that's it, the Rebels are there.