As we all know, at least the people who have heard of both the internet and have no fewer than one Whovian friend, Matt Smith is leaving Doctor Who. I am disappointed like so many others, but I have learned that as a Doctor Who fan, I need to roll with the regenerations. I remember being a kid and watching the switch from John Pertwee to Tom Baker in reruns on PBS and being very, very disappointed. So disappointed I ran over to my dialup modem, put it on the cradle, and hit every local BBS until I found one with somebody who knew what the fuck just happened. Did I mention I’m old?
However, I believe this presents a good chance. Let’s get a female Doctor.
Seriously, it wouldn’t be any less strange than anything else on the show, and there is precedent for it with both Romana (that there are Time Ladies, at least), and also with the non-canonical and absolutely hilarious The Curse of Fatal Death where the Doctor at the end is played by Joanna Lumley.
But I was being foolish. As Aiofe over at the Tea Cozy points out, Russell T. Davies himself, though no longer running the show, came up with the hitch in this plan.
While I think kids will not have a problem with a female Doctor, I think fathers will have a problem with it.
That’s because they will then imagine they will have to describe sex changes to their children.
How did I not think of that! Fathers (not mothers) will have to explain to kids about sex changes!
Obviously, this fails on a number of levels, and I will give Davies some credit that his wording implies that fathers are not justified in this opinion, merely that some will “imagine” this to be the case. But let’s look at these fails as if this is the case and some dads are this delusional.
The first is one that Aoife points out: we went through this 20 years ago with another character. Her name was Jadzia Dax and she was on the masterful Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. To quote Aoife,
Dax- or Jadzia Dax, as she is when we meet her- is a joined Trill. Trills are a species who, in their joined state (most Trills aren’t joined) are composed of two parts- a humanoid host who lives and dies like other humanoids, and a wormlike symbiont who can live for many centuries and who holds and preserves the memories of its hosts. When a host dies, the symbiont is transferred into a new host to begin another life. A joined Trill individual is therefore a blend of the current host, their symbiont, and all of their past lives. Trippy, eh? Where the Doctor rarely refers to the past, Dax doesn’t have that luxury. Jazdia Dax lives and works among people who knew her when she was an old man. Her boss, closest friend, mentor and mentee (life is complicated when you’re a twentysomething with a centuries old mind) calls her “Old Man” and reminisces about old times. She encounters people of many species who she knew in past lives, deftly negotiating complex terrains of age and gender, owning both who she is and all of the other people that she was. She’s also, by the way, a badass science officer, wicked smart, and manages to gamble with the Ferengi and win.
DS9 is my favorite Star Trek series. I remember very clearly laying on the floor of my family room with two uncles, two cousins, my grandmother, and my parents all sitting around together watching the premiere of the show. We didn’t always watch it as a big family, but my father and I have seen it several times all the way through together. We quote Garek to one another often as an inside joke. Mine is no casual fandom, and neither is my dad’s, which is why I also remember asking him once why Dax is referred to as “Old Man”.
And I remember my father explaining to me that she has a symbiont inside of her that is passed from host to host, some of them are men, some are women. And that was it, because I was 11 years old and “that’s how Trills work” was perfectly acceptable. No discussion of sex or gender required.
And you know when else we didn’t discuss sex or gender? During the episode Facets when Jadzia has her friends embody the personalities of her previous hosts as part of a Trill ritual and has Quark embody one of the female hosts without telling him. Yes, violation of his consent, misplaced femininity played for laughs, but it was at least mildly funny and in no way required my father to explain that some people legitimately feel that way all the time and can take a number of steps to correct the problem. You know why? Because I was less concerned about why there was a woman inside of Quark and more concerned with whether Nog will pass the practical test to get into Starfleet Academy because priorities.
The other part of this fail to has to with why this is a problem in the first place. Trans* people exist, so why is it so difficult to explain that some people change their gender in a variety of ways and to a variety of degrees? This is not a difficult thing to explain, and it shouldn’t be held to a special level of scrutiny because fathers might not be comfortable with it.
And that leads me to the point that I think is most important.
I don’t give a fuck what you tell your kids.
Seriously, why the fuck is it my responsibility, or the BBC’s, or Steven Moffat’s to avoid certain topics? Trans* people exist. If your desire is to prevent your children from realizing that, that’s your prerogative, but nobody else is under any obligation to help shelter your children from reality. In fact, I will outright say that my objective is to introduce your children to reality if you are trying to deny it to them, because your child deserves to be able to handle the actual world around them when they are no longer under your thumb.
Also, hi kids of parents who don’t want you to know things! Hope you’re enjoying reading my blog with all the dirty words and talk about TV shows!
On a related note, Mike Huckabee shares with us his incredible sad that he has to actually see gay people on TV. This was his example of how downtrodden and oppressed Christians like him are: they might have to change the channel or accept that gay people exist someplace. This was prompted by Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America saying that conservatives on college campuses were “bullied” and had a hard time expressing their views on issues like same-sex marriage, completely ignoring that they have that trouble because their views are horrendous and there is no good way to phrase them.
And I have basically the same reactions: I don’t give a single fuck. Before the 5th century CE you couldn’t accurately represent how many fucks I give because the number zero hadn’t fully developed yet, and all of those fucks were merely a placeholder or deciphered from context.
Also, the Doctor is not LGBT. And if he regenerated into a female presenting body, she may or may not be LGBT, but not because of that. The Doctor is Gallifreyan. Thought we should clear that up.
There is a perception from people, especially on the right, that it is the responsibility of the wider world to raise their kids for them, or at least don’t put them in a position where they might have to talk about something that makes them uncomfortable. And you know what? It sucks to be them because this is the world that their kids live in, and they really need to get used to it young, or those kids will grow up as stunted and ignorant as their parents, bewildered by the very thought of some people’s mere existence and afraid that they might turn on the TV and actually see some of them.
So, with that objection out of the way, can we maybe look at a possible Lady Doctor this time around? And perhaps even get more than one female writer while we’re at it? I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
UPDATE: More from the “don’t mention gay people” news. Apparently the Duma just passed a bill, unanimously, to make it illegal to even mention that gay people exist. And Mike Huckabee secretly pines to be in Mother Russia.