Trans and non-binary characters are set to feature for the first time in the Star Trek universe, as season three of Star Trek: Discovery premieres on US television in October.
Del Barrio told GLAAD that non-binary Adira is “a wonderfully complex character”.
“Mainly because of this duality they have within them: they’re astonishingly intelligent and yet they’re still a kid,” they said.
“They experience their emotions at a heightened level, like most teenagers.
“That’s what makes them so fun to play.”
When cast as Adira, del Barrio had not yet widely come out as non-binary.
“I had only recently discovered the word and realised that it described how I’d felt for a long time,” they said.
“I knew I wanted to tell my friends and family, so when this happened, it felt like the universe saying: go ahead.
“So in a way, Adira’s story ends up mirroring mine.”
Del Barrio said that many people seem to think non-binary gender is not real because they have not heard of it.
“Most people don’t personally know someone who is transgender, so they don’t know much about gender diversity,” they said.
“This is where I believe the problem starts – the problem that leads to discrimination and violence against trans people.”
They called for acceptance and education, with trans rights addressed as a priority.
Del Barrio noted that people often struggle with gender neutral pronouns, but added that anyone could get used to them with effort.
“I promise you – if my Argentinian parents can do it, so can you,” they said.
The long-running Star Trek franchise has been famously progressive in portraying diversity since launching in 1966.
Star Trek: Discovery has had other firsts for the franchise, including a married gay couple and a Black female lead.
“Star Trek has always made a mission of giving visibility to underrepresented communities,” said showrunner and executive producer Michelle Paradise, according to ABC News.
“It believes in showing people that a future without division on the basis of race, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation is entirely within our reach.”