In addition to making all of the money and receiving wide-eyed reviews from cultural critics who suddenly feel like little kids again, Star Wars: The Force Awakens did another thing extremely well, too: It represented a variety of the different kinds of people who could be having adventures a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. While we’d never denigrate the original trilogy, it’s true that the first three Star Wars films had twice as many Droids in its band of rebels (2) than it did either women or heroes of color. Han, Leia, and Luke are all terrific characters, but in a world as vast as the one depicted as Star Wars, there’s certainly room for adventures starring, say, a black ex-Stormtrooper, or a Latino X-Wing pilot, or a lady who’s [spoilers].
All of those people lead the new group of resistance fighters who star in The Force Awakens, and fans who are eager to see another type of hero appear in 2017’s Episode VIII have launched a petition urging the franchise to consider a famous mega-fan: Against Me! frontwoman Laura Jane Grace. Grace isn’t just a huge Star Wars fan–she’s also a visible and vocal transgender activist. (Read our profile on Grace after the 2014 launch of her AOL original series, True Trans, here.) Our mundane world has plenty of transgender people in it, so in a universe of Wookies, Bothans, Droids and Hutts, there’s no reason not to believe that a trans woman couldn’t be flying around as a badass bounty hunter or Force-attuned rogue, for example.
The campaign got started after Grace tweeted a photo of herself, guitar in hand, wearing a hoodie and a Kylo Ren mask, declaring herself “a little bit Jedi and a little bit rock ‘n roll.” The official @StarWars account noticed the photo and responded, leading to a cute exchange in which the singer vowed to use the mask’s voice-changer on the new album, and the @StarWars account created the hashtag #TrueTransForceRebel.
Since that tweet, a fan campaign on ThePetitionSite.com asking the forces behind Episode VIII (presumably director Rian Johnson) to cast Grace in the next edition of the series has gathered over 3,700 signatures–including Grace herself.
Grace’s history with Star Wars dates back far–she first saw Return of the Jedi in the theater as a three year old, she tells CoCreate, and immediately fell in love with the Star Wars universe. “I still to this day have my original Star Wars action figures that my parents gave to me for Christmas that year,” she says, and while (like a lot of fans) the prequel trilogy diminished her enthusiasm for the universe, the joy of taking her six-year-old daughter to see The Force Awakens rekindled that passion–which means that, if she does get a call, she’ll almost certainly make time for it.
“Kudos to whomever handles the Star Wars Twitter account for actually getting it. It always impresses me when someone is actually listening,” she says. “I felt like I was tweeting with the Force.” And if the Force is strong with Grace and her fans, maybe we’ll see her pop up flying a ship or leading a hard-rocking cantina band in Episode VIII.