It is now official, the long awaited news for fans of the cult TV series, Doctor Who, the new Doctor is to be played by Jodie Whittaker. She will be the first woman to play the role and it is creating a stir – both for and against. So a few thoughts into the (Galli)fray.
Firstly, the Doctor is an alien with two hearts. I don’t know what gender identity means on Gallifrey, but it is becoming an expanding concept on earth, broader than the binary notions I grew up with – some of which were rather restricted to say the least.
Secondly, the Doctor can regenerate. This involves the rearranging of atoms and since each successive form has looked different and displayed a few quirky characteristics, I guess the DNA may be a bit altered too. From there chromosomes are not looking so fixed either. Whatever the outcome here, human beings remain human beings whatever their gender – though of course the Doctor is not human.
Thirdly, the Doctor appears with a different wardrobe each time too. Here the stereotypes start to have fun – Tardis needing room for the shoes, sonic screwdriver at the bottom of the bag along with who knows what else. One friend said that episodes will be shorter now because a woman will fix things quicker than a man. To which her husband replied that it will take her longer to get out of the Tardis… Glad we’ve got that over with.
Fourthly, and most important of all, it’s fiction! It’s all made up. The best drama of course helps us to play with reality. We can try things out and see where they take us. Gender identity is a contemporary debate – how fixed it is, how binary it is. It would be interesting to see the House of Bishops include a chapter on Doctor Who in its report on sexuality and gender identity, when it eventually sees the light of day.
So I am looking forward to what Jodie does with the part and may just ponder a few of the more serious issues above – not the shoes.