Here’s the thing about the future: the way things are going currently, I think it’s safe to question why heterosexual women would still be the majority in 2334. And yet! As I learned in a Women in Literature course nearly two decades ago, fan-fic was invented by Trekkies longing to see Kirk and Spock boldly go where they only subtextually went onscreen, and until literally three years ago, the franchise has remained mostly content to keep its characters straight on their streets and queer in our sheets. Star Trek‘s persistent refusal to offer sufficient LGBTQ representation, despite encouragement from cast members, has been a point of contention for decades. Our 2010 piece about it — “Gay Me Up, Scotty: How Star Trek Failed To Boldly Go There” — is one of several Autostraddle pieces that frequently pop up on college syllabi.
Luckily, we all have very active imaginations and also, just for the record, as a child I attended a Star Trek Convention in the aptly named Romulus, Michigan. Thus, it eventually came time for us to turn our keen minds towards an important project: ranking every Star Trek character by lesbianism. (A practice we engage in frequently, for example this ranking of Law and Order characters.)
The lesbian rankings contained herein are based on highly subjective criteria you will undoubtedly disagree with. It includes opinions from esteemed sources like your pal and mine Sally, who has seen all the Star Treks, as well as Autostraddle writers Al(aina), Kayla, and Senior Editor Carmen, the only three Autostraddle team members who wanted to join my Star Trek Slack Channel.
Also by the way the Bajorans are the most lesbianish species overall (the earwear alone, I mean!) and everyone is queerer in the mirrorverse. Don’t @ me. But do comment!
55. Navigator Ilia (Persis Khambatta), “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”
Due to the Deltan pheromones that trigger “hormonal responses in most humanoid life forms of the opposite sex,” Ilia had to take a vow of celibacy in order to be permitted to work amongst human men. A more logical solution would be to avoid human men altogether, any lesbian could tell you that!!!
54. Helmsman Valeris (Kim Cattrall), “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country”
No thank you.
53. Seska (Martha Hackett), Voyager
52. Alynna Nechayev (Natalija Nogulich), The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine
Kayla: daddy vibes but not super gay vibes sorry 2 say. she’s so by-the-book.
51. Anjj (Donna Murphy), “Star Trek: Insurrection”
Overcomes everything she knows to be true about the world in order to fall in love with a man. Heterosexual bangs.
50. Kes (Jennifer Lien), Voyager
Sally: What little personality she did have was subsumed by her relationship with the incredibly annoying Neelix.
49. Dr Katherine Pulaski (Diana Muldaur), The Next Generation
Refused to acknowledge Data’s preferred personhood and mispronounced his name intentionally to convey her disrespect. So, definitely straight.
48. Nurse Christine Chapel (Majel Barrett), The Original Series, Star Trek I – VI
Sally remembers that she “can’t remember what she did other than crush on Spock.” However, Kayla asks: “Is there something slightly gay about pining after Spock since he is quite literally emotionally unavailable? Like the way I pretended to have crushes on unavailable boys in high school?” Valid inquiry.
47. Janice Rand (Grace Lee Whitney), The Original Series, “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country”
Truly committed to the heterosexual bit for decades. Slight Mom energy, Zero Mommi Energy.
46. Tora Ziyal (Melanie Smith), Deep Space Nine
She’s like the straight sister of one of your lesbian friends who everybody is like, “is she gay yet?” and her lesbian sister is like “not yet!”
45. Winn Adami (Louise Fletcher), Deep Space Nine
Super evil but not the sexy low-key kind of evil your ex-girlfriend was. More like the kind of evil embodied by a librarian who won’t stock Heather Has Two Mommies.
44. Chief Engineer B’Elanna Torres (Roxann Dawson), Voyager
It is true that she was, as Sally put it, “relentlessly and regretfully (to me) heterosexual with Lt. Paris, a human charm vacuum.” However, as Sally also put it, she “had a lot of angry feminist vibes going on.”
43. Nurse Alyssa Ogawa (Patti Yasutake), The Next Generation, “Star Trek Generations,” “Star Trek First Contact”
Is described as “a bit conservative in her personal life.” Haircut got less gay rather than more gay over time. When Crusher saw her boyfriend with another woman, Alyssa was concerned rather than relieved.
42. First Officer / Science Officer T’Pol (Jolene Blalock), Enterprise
Sally: Repeatedly stripped off in the decontamination chamber, which I sense was only tangentially for my benefit.
41. Starfleet Vice Admiral Katrina Cornwell (Jayne Brook), Discovery
Is a therapist.
Kayla: is a bisexual psychiatrist called a bichiatrist
she sleeps with her ex and then tries to psychoanalyze their trauma…….
40. Kasidy Yates-Sisko (Penny Johnson Jerald), Deep Space Nine
“In my head she merged with her other role as the evil wife of the President in 24,” remarked Sally. “So I was always highly suspicious of her.”
39. Lieutenant Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), The Original Series, first six Star Trek films
Point / Counterpoint:
Al(aina): very heterosexual. her first lines in the series are like “spock why won’t you tell me i’m pretty!!!!”
Carmen: Ok so while I technically see Al’s point here, I am still going to offer a rebuttal: Lt. Uhura is fundamental to everything about my black nerd femme identity. EVERYTHING.
And I have a Lt. Uhura journal and action figure to highlight this point.
AND without Nichelle Nichols in this role, there wouldn’t have been women in central speaking parts in command. So in many ways she’s the foremother of a lot of the other women on this list, which I feel is important re: legacy of women we’re ranking by gay.
38. Ensign Demora Sulu (Jacqueline Kim), “Star Trek Generations”
Had minimal screen time/development. Daddy’s girl.
37. Lursa & Be’Etor, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and “Star Trek: Generations”
Tried to seduce Picard by offering him excessive amounts of hot tea. Also therefore:
Al(aina): ok, hear me out: i think these two are def gay sisters who sleep with men in the same way that aileen wuornos slept with men. like, to get money from them and also possibly to kill them.
36. Cadet Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman), Discovery
Tilly might be the straight girl who seemed gay as a kid just ’cause she had so many ideas for sleepover games but like… she actually meant it when she said she had a crush on that boy you were just pretending to have a crush on. And listen: nobody is more annoyed than she is about being straight. All her friends are gay!
Alternately, Sally has pointed out that she has allergies, which is gay. Furthermore, that infection/haunting via her former “friend” May in Season Two is wildly lesbian. When her ex/”friend,” in the form of a viral blob, is eating her arm, and she’s like, “I’m so tired,” I was like, GIRL, SAME.
35. Ishka (Cecily Adams), Deep Space Nine
Couldn’t live her truth until her husband died, which means she’s a late-in-life lesbian. Feminist renegade who attempted to circumvent the misogynist Ferengi economy for personal gain.
34. Leeta (Chase Masterson), Deep Space Nine
She is a Bajoran, the most lesbianish species of Star Trek, and also was basically a sex worker, one of the the most queerish professions of the modern era (right up there with “social worker” and “starfleet officer”) AND she ORGANIZED A G-DDAMN UNION. Despite all of that… does not attempt to seduce Arandis or any other women while celebrating her conscious uncoupling from Doctor Bashir on a pleasure planet?
33. Lily Sloane (Alfre Woodard), “Star Trek: First Contact”
Began her story building a time machine in a rural Montana silo. Described as “outspoken and a little high-strung” (gay) and credited with being “the first to recognize Captain Picard’s emotional demons.” (Do note that although lesbians are very good at recognizing the emotional demons of others, we are also uniquely adept at disassociating from our own.)
32. Caithlin Dar (Cynthia Gouw), “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier”
Hairstyle doubles as a dildo. Is always dressed for a tightly themed queer dance party. Was manipulated into joining a weird religious cult.
31. Female Changeling (Salome Jens), Deep Space Nine
Sally: Possibly the most bizarre thing in all Star Trek is that when they had the ultimate chance to have completely agender lifeforms who can shapeshift into anything, they either had them as a writhing pile of goo, or really bad play-dough people. The Female Changeling had it in really bad for the “solids” who she thought were stupid and inferior, which is kind of how I feel about men, so I’m charitably viewing her as a kind of non-binary man-hating lesbian separatist.
30. Counselor Ezri Dax (Nicole de Boer), Deep Space Nine
Joined Starfleet to get away from her family. According to @somekindoferika on twitter, has “big trans energy.”
29. Special Emissary K’Ehleyr (Susie Plakson), The Next Generation
Was fridged to motivate a male character. She once noted, regarding her half-human half-Klingon genetics, “my Klingon side can be terrifying, even to me,” which is clearly a symbolic nod to her bisexuality and her subsequent terror of either: a) Men, b) Women.
28. Martia (Ilman), “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country”
Envisioned as a “swashbuckling female space pirate.” Was killed by a famous cis white man.
27. Botanist Keiko O’Brien (Rosalind Chao), The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine
Fanboys hate her. She loves plants.
26. Officer Joann Owosekun (Oyin Oladejo), Discovery
When locked in a basement in New Eden with Michael and Pike, stripped of all their fancy technology, she employs her Luddite background expertly, managing to free them all by manipulating the door’s sliding bolt. Her haircut is gay enough to stand out on a bridge riddled with gay haircuts.
25. Biologist Dr. Gillian Taylor (Catherine Hicks), “Star Trek IV: The Journey Home”
Obsessed with whales. Says she’s down to time-hop with Kirk and Spock because “I’ve got nobody but those whales.” Has no interest in keeping in touch with Kirk because she would rather do science. In the fictional bibliography of “Star Trek: Federation – The First 150 Years,” she is cited as the author of “Whales Weep Not: My 300-Year Voyage Home with George and Gracie.” Ahem.
24. The Actual Whales from “Star Trek IV: The Journey Home”
Sally: Two whales involved in saving future earth from some pseudo-ecological disaster using whalesong definitely sounds like the kind of plot dreamt up by a teenage lesbian.
23. Commander-in-Training Saavik (Kristie Alley), Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Kayla: A [half] vulcan who still CRIES? bitch, that’s a lesbian.
22. Molecular Biologist Carol Marcus (Bibi Besch), “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”
After having Kirk’s child, declared a lack of interest in spending any additional time with Kirk or having him involved in his son’s life, preferring instead to focus on her truest love: her work.
Kayla: WE STAN A GAY SINGLE MOM
Kayla: SCIENCE MOMMI
21. Season One Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton), The Next Generation
- Looks like a lesbian
- Thinks he can do everybody else’s job better than they can
- Wears a cute striped mock turtleneck and leggings all the time
- When he saves the day, fans were annoyed rather than impressed
- Teaches a group of small children how to do passive resistance as an activist technique in order to escape their captors
- As a child when TNG originally aired, I had a crush on him
- My crush blinded me to the fact that he was a nearly universally disliked character
- Dammit was I Wesley
- Ugh I hate myself
- Stopped looking/acting like a lesbian circa Season Two
- Was a teenage boy
20. Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan), Voyager
In 1997, GLAAD reported that ex-borg drone Seven of Nine would “experiment with her sexuality along the way to understanding her humanity, including looking into same-sex relations” but apparently unnamed “opposition” got in the way, as it has literally every single time this franchise ever promised queer representation until 2016. But what we got instead was a troubled hottie constantly haunted by trauma and suffering from near-constant severe PTSD involving raven-prominent flashbacks, which is peak lesbian.
19. Arandis (Vanessa Williams), one episode of Deep Space Nine
Was nobody else still watching DS9 when Dax went on a romantic vacation with Worf — she wore a RAINBOW BATHING SUIT, he kept his uniform on and was in a very bad mood the whole time — and her old friend Arandis (who’d hooked up with one of Jadzia’s former hosts) followed her around all week hoping Dax would escape the misapplied Worf storyline for some Sweet Sapphic Scissoring? THIS WOMAN IS BISEXUAL, it’s a fact.
18. Communications Officer Hoshi Sato (Linda Park), Enterprise
An ACTUAL linguist with poor social skills who spent most of her childhood alone, learning alien languages.
17 [TIE]. Doctor Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden), The Next Generation
Tied with Troi because without Troi, is she truly lesbian? Are they girlfriends… or do they just make extended eye contact in skin-tight boobs-out get-ups while engaging in elaborate ritual stretching contests?
[excerpt from a private chat]
Kayla: “TNG is the gayest of them all. The G stands for gay.”
Me: “yeah TNG is like Mommis in space.”
Kayla: “Dr. Beverly Crusher MD has got to be my #1.
I want her to top me in space.
“DIAGNOSE ME, MOMMI”
[…one month later in our star trek slack channel…]
Kayla: crush ME, doctor beverly crusher md!!!!!!
Kayla: she is so gay and i do not just say that because i want her to spit in my mouth
Kayla: she essentially had sex with anaphasic energy that was contained in a CURSED CANDLE which is um, gay
Carmen: Doctor Beverly Crusher is everything!!! Mommi for dayyyyys. Bless.
Al(aina): i want to lay my life down for her. she could walk on me. i dont feel that way about straight women
17 [TIE]. Lieutenant Commander Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), The Next Generation
A tough call. As aforementioned, highly dependent on the woman tied for this spot, Dr. Beverly Crusher, who either is or is not Troi’s girlfriend. Troi did fall for Riker, the Galaxy’s Most Alpha Male. But; her empathy scores are off the charts and in Yar’s post-death hologram dirge, she said Troi made her realize she could “be feminine without losing anything,” which let’s be honest probably happened in her private quarters. Also, remember when Troi pointed out that “Tasha is very physically attractive”? I’ll never forget.
Kayla: i think she has maybe never been with a woman but is having confusing feelings about her best friend Dr. Beverly Crusher
Kayla: so maybe like a baby bi
Carmen: OH I SEE WE ARE BRINGING OUT ALL MY CHILDHOOD CRUSHES OK THEN
Al(aina): she also seems high as fuck all the time, gives me big bisexual vibes
16. Vulcan High Priestess T’Lar (Dame Judith Anderson), “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock”
A spiritual leader who wears turtleneck hooded robes and can officiate weddings and deliver children? GAY.
15. Lieutenant Keyla Detmer (Emily Coutts), Discovery
14. Ishara Yar (Beth Toussaint), The Next Generation
This evaluation is based solely upon her physical appearance, which leaves about as much room to be straight as there is to fit another task onto my to-do list. Also, her sister is gay.
13. Jayla (Sofia Boutella), “Star Trek: Beyond”
Excuse me but: after traumatically losing her entire family, Jaylah lived alone on a hidden abandoned spaceship, listening to hip-hop, learning martial arts, making her own weapons and doing home repairs.
12. Lwaxana Troi (Majel Barrett), The Next Generation & Deep Space Nine
Lwaxana reads to me like an overbearing Jewish mother who, like my own overbearing Jewish mother, is probably gay. Al called her “the Phyllis Kroll of Star Trek” and Sally, also recalling a queer woman over 50 from The L Word, said Lwaxana is “clearly the Peggy Peabody/Guggenheim of the franchise who, despite constantly being on the hunt for a husband, you know had that one lesbian fling in the summer of Stardate 80363.79. Enough Mommi vibes to power a warp drive.”
11. Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), Discovery
On the one hand, Michael pings like the original Enterprise’s duotronic sensor array. On the other hand, Michael pings like a sweeping infa-red laser scanning local space. Bring those two hands together and we have a lesbian. “I remember the first five minutes of Discovery when it was just Michael and Philippa trekking round a desert with a whole female mentor/mentee vibe, and I thought if they just did that for twenty-four episodes it would be the greatest sci-fi ever,” recalled Sally. “Sadly this did not happen, and we didn’t just have to see her un-repress her Vulcan feelings for Ash once, but millions of times in one episode!” Alternately:
Al(aina): Phillipa Georgiou’s bottom. So lost without her top she fell in love with a Kllingon.
Carmen: Yet another star trek gay asymmetrical haircut has made itself known.
10. Conn Officer Ro Laren (Michelle Forbes), The Next Generation
“I liked Ensign Ro because she was tough and challenged all the pansy moralistic men in TNG, whilst having engagingly pointy eyebrows,” wrote Sally. “I believe she was meant to be a main character on DS9, which fell through and Kira kind of filled that role, so I was really happy when she graduated to be the evil lesbian admiral in Battlestar Galactica.”
Kayla: TORTURED GAY
Kayla: ok she and Guinan definitely fucked in her titular episode from season 5
Kayla: i have visual aids:
Which brings me to….
9. Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg), The Next Generation, “Star Trek: Generations,” “Star Trek: Nemesis”
When Wikipedia describes you as “an alien who is several hundred years old and is noted for her folk wisdom,” YOU GAY. (Sidenote: during the taping of “The Offspring,” Whoopi refused to have Guinan teach her adopted child about love as a heterosexual concept, rejecting the script about a man and a woman falling in love in favor of “when two people are in love” because “this show is beyond that.”)
Kayla: gay empath alert
Carmen: guinan is that tarot card reading, astrology birth chart, “I can’t date you if you’re a libra” or whatever kind of gay.
we all know her, we’ve all dated her, we all have one of her in our friendship circle (maybe we even are her)
Al(aina): yes to all of this.
8. Borg Queen (Alice Krige), Voyager and “Star Trek: First Contact”
Sally: The original Cybermommi. Gay obsession with Seven of Nine. As the Borg were all one collective, that must mean that assimilating just one lesbian makes every Borg a lesbian, ergo they were just one giant lesbian commune floating in space.
7. Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew), Voyager
The first female Starfleet Commanding Officer in the Star Trek universe is a bit of a lesbian gimme. Plus she has lesbian voice and a lesbian gait and a hearty portion of lesbian tension with other women aboard her good ship. However, Sally didn’t get gay vibes until “Macrocosm,” “when she strips off and goes all Ripley against some alien bugs with a giant rifle. Which is pretty gay really.”
6. First Officer / Commanding Officer Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor), Deep Space Nine
“Remember when her boyfriend the Bajoran priest died in some horrific manner, and she was just like Can’t grieve now, got work to do?,” Sally wistfully recalled. “I feel like she lived out the fantasy of all gay women who are afraid of compulsory heterosexuality and dream of getting married to a dude who dies on their wedding night.” Furthermore, “Mirrorverse Kira checking out regular Kira is the gayest moment in all Star Trek.”
Riese: In Kira’s first scene in DS9 she yells at Sisko about (not in these words but) colonization and indigenous people’s right to self determination and hating the government after telling him that he probably won’t like her because she has strong opinions.
Kayla: wowowowowowow me in high school.
Riese: She just told Sisko that she’s the only one on the ship willing to do manual labor and ‘get her hands dirty.’
Now she’s interrupting a staff meeting to register complaints about their asylum policy
5. Chief Science Officer Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell), Deep Space Nine
Dax is willing to break the most embedded and valued rules of her people, the Trills, to spend the rest of her life with the woman one of her previous hosts had been married to. Even though her character was basically gender-fluid and the whole situation seemed orchestrated to ensure we knew her attraction to her ex was not a lesbian situation but just a carryover from a heterosexual situation, she’s the closest thing we had to queer-lady cannon before (hopefully?!) Discovery — and when it happened, the kiss she shared with Lenara Kahn was the most intense girl-on-girl kiss ever aired on network television. YOU COULD SEE SALIVA.
Also, got killed, the gayest move of all.
4. Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh), Discovery
“Probably I should be angry that the only bisexuals on Star Trek are always evil people from alternate universes?” Sally mused. “Sadly I don’t care, and Michelle Yeoh is hot.”
Al(aina): the toppiest femme top
Carmen: She also had sex with a woman on screen (well they’re shown post-sex on screen?) in a threesome, so I think that makes her pretty heckin’ gay.
Kayla: a telescope as a prized possession is gay i don’t make the RULES
3. Jet Reno (Tig Notaro), Discovery
Al(aina): she gay
Kayla: lol i mean
2. The lesbian couple in the background of one scene in the Star Trek Discovery episode “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad”
Ladies, gentlemen and J’naiis: WE WILL TAKE WHAT WE CAN GET.
1. Chief of Security Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby) , The Next Generation
In addition to sporting THE LATE 80S/EARLY 90S LESBIAN HAIRCUT™, Yar only lasted one season ’cause Denise Crosby chose to leave the show ’cause the structural gender inequality imposed by the writing team meant her character was woefully underdeveloped and therefore insufficiently challenging to her as an actress. Instead, Crosby went on to produce a series of documentaries about Star Trek fandom. But, the most lesbian action of all:
Al(aina): so GAAAAAAAAAAAAY they even killed her
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