Star Trek Actor Fires Back At Shatner Fans

Is another Shatner feud brewing?

By Michileen Martin | Published

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William Shatner: he’s Captain James T. Kirk, he’s irreplaceable, and he has a penchant for starting feuds with his Star Trek colleagues. He seemed to have edged close to that same kind of conflict at this past weekend’s San Diego Comic-Con. Among other things Shatner was asked if any of the new Trek series rivaled Star Trek: The Original Series. Not surprisingly, the actor said, “none of them.” Invoking the creator of Trek, Shatner continued, “I got to know Gene Roddenberry in three years fairly well. He’d be turning in his grave at some of this stuff.” The statement apparently emboldened some abusive Shatner fans to go after Strange New Worlds star Melissa Navia, and she isn’t here to listen.

On Wednesday, Melissa Navia retweeted a fan who wrote “This ultra reactionary energy Shatner stans exude is so jarring.” Navia responded by commenting on their attacks onher, including apparently calling her “a man, a cow, and a nobody. None of which are insults.” You can see the Star Trek actress’ response below.

Melissa Navia plays Lieutenant Erica Ortegas on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, the Enterprise’s wisecracking helmsman. There has been widespread speculation about the character’s sexual and gender identity, including speculation that her character is non-binary or a lesbian. Those rumblings in the fandom have helped make Navia a target of the kinds of fans who apparently agree with Shatner about newer Trek series, feeling they go too far to satisfy progressive agendas or, put more simply, “too woke.” Hence, the attacks Navia references in her tweet, with fans insulting her appearance and gender identity.

Star Trek is certainly not what it was in the days William Shatner first commanded the Enterprise or even when Patrick Stewart took over. Starting with season 3 of Star Trek: Discovery, the titular ship was commanded by a Black woman. Same sex relationships have been portrayed on both Discovery and Picard, with Discovery introducing trans characters played by trans actors, as well as the non-binary Adira played by Blu del Barrio. In fact, by Discovery‘s third season, there wasn’t a single cisgendered heterosexual white human male character being played by the regular series cast. This, presumably, is what Shatner’s fans — and perhaps Shatner himself though he apparently didn’t elaborate about what would’ve sent Roddenberry “turning in his grave” — feel is part of some kind of forced woke agenda.

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Melissa Navia as Erica Ortegas on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

But the most interesting thing about the situation is what the hostile reaction to Melissa Navia’s character reveals about this corner of Star Trek fandom. So far, of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds‘ ten episodes, there has been absolutely zero indication that Erica Ortegas is non-binary or a lesbian. She has not referenced her romantic life. She has not flirted with other women. She has not corrected anyone on their pronouns usage. She has cracked jokes, played pranks, and proven herself as much of a hotshot pilot as previous Trek helmsmen like George Takei’s Sulu and Robert Duncan McNeill‘s Tom Paris. And from this, fans detect a “woke” agenda? Why? Because her hair is short? Was Denise Crosby’s Lt. Yar part of a woke agenda? How about Nana Visitor‘s Major Kira?

So if you find Erica Ortegas on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds objectionable… why? It can’t be because you think she’s part of a “woke agenda” to appeal to the LGBTQ+ community because she doesn’t reference that part of her life at all. That means what you’re left with is that you find her character objectionable because she presents herself as a character who does not exist to fulfill your fantasy. She is not here to be the poster on your wall or another deposit in your spank bank. And if that’s what you find offensive? It’s possible you’re just horrible. Maybe work on that.