Lal: “I am gender neuter. Inadequate.”
Data: “That is why you must choose a gender, Lal, to complete your appearance.”
Oh, Star Trek, you are one of those shows that consistently disappoints me. This conversation from Star Trek: The Next Generation perfectly illustrates how our society tends to view gender in a strict gender binary. In the episode “The Offspring”, the robot Data creates his own android progeny named Lal. He decides to create Lal gender neutral, so that Lal can choose what gender to be. It seemed like a great idea, but it quickly turned problematic when Lal declared gender neutrality “inadequate” before promptly choosing a female gender. For people who don’t fit the gender binary, this statement is wildly offensive. The message seems to be if you aren’t male or female then you are… inadequate. How fucked up is that?!
Yeah, you read that right. I don’t believe Data is a “boy robot”. Or rather, not in the traditional sense.
Oh, I’m sorry. I forgot to lead into this. My fault. You see, Data is the lovable android from Star Trek: The Next Generation. The character, played by Brent Spiner, replaced Spock as the character looking for what is humanity. He’s also my personal favorite of all the main characters in TNG. I think the Data-centric episode “The Measure of a Man”, where Data is officially found to be a sentient being under Starfleet law, is one of the best non-Borg TNG episodes out there. I credit this in large part to Spiner’s in-character evolution of Data.