TV

“Degrassi” Adds Its First Genderqueer Character

"I don’t feel like a girl, or what everyone thinks is a girl."

Long-running Canadian teen drama Degrassi has always been LGBT-inclusive, and now the show has introduced its first genderqueer character: 17-year-old Yael Baron (Jamie Bloch) comes out as nonbinary in the show’s fourth season on Netflix, which drops in full tomorrow.

At first, Yael, a junior at Degrassi High, wonders if they might be “gay,” despite always having dated cisgender guys. Yael then kisses their best friend, Lola, but decides their uneasiness has more to do with their connection to their gender expression than it does with their sexuality.

Netflix

“I feel in-between,” Yael tells Lola in “#FactsOnly,” the sixth episode of the new season. “I don’t feel like a girl, or what everyone thinks is a girl. I don’t like makeup or stuff like you do. I really, really hate my boobs… But I don’t feel like a boy either. And I’m definitely not gay. I like [my boyfriend] Hunter.”

Luckily, Lola is familiar with gender fluidity (she saw someone talking about it on YouTube). “They feel like they’re between a boy or girl. Or both. Or neither,” she explains. “It’s like, if being a boy or girl is made up, then you can make whatever you want, right?” Lola then helps her friend by offering them (what else?) a makeover.

“Just tell me what you’d want to look like if you weren’t worrying about being a boy or a girl,” Lola says, “if you were worrying about being Yael.”

Watch their heart-to-heart below.

In 2010, Jordon Todosey portrayed Degrassi’s first trans character, Adam, in a storyline that won both a Peabody and a Gemini Award (the Canadian equivalent of an Emmy).

The show, which originally premiered in 1979 as The Kids of Degrassi Street, has had many queer characters starting with Snake’s Brother, Glen, who came out in an episode back in 1988.

Trish Bendix is a Los Angeles-based writer.
@trishbendix