Number One"s Strange New Worlds Trial Won"t Fix A Big Starfleet Problem

Whatever the verdict in the upcoming trial of Number One (Rebecca Romijn) in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 2, it won't overturn a major Starfleet prejudice that continues long into the 24th century. Strange New Worlds season 1 ended with the arrest of Una Chin-Riley for failing to disclose her genetic augmentations and Illyrian heritage. The Strange New Worlds season 2 trailer revealed that Una will eventually return to the Enterprise, which means that she'll escape both a prison sentence and dismissal from Starfleet. How Una wins her case remains to be seen, but Star Trek canon has established that, sadly, the verdict doesn't lead to sweeping societal changes.
The ban on genetic modifications was introduced with the intention of avoiding the rise of another Khan Noonien-Singh in the wake of the devastating Eugenics War. However, this ban is effectively a form of prejudice that is hard to square with Starfleet and the Federation's egalitarian ethos. Canonically, Una Chin-Riley may be the first augment to fall foul of Starfleet's stringent restrictions, but she won't be the last. Dr. Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig) and Dal L'Rel (Brett Gray) were also exemplary Starfleet officers, whose genetic enhancements barred them from entry into the institution. It's a stark reminder that Una's trial is the first step in a very long road that stretches as far as Star Trek: Prodigy.


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