Kelly Marie Tran, star of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, was harassed online by trolls earlier this year because of her participation in the Star Wars franchise. More to the point, she was harassed because she 1) played a well-rounded female character that didn’t adhere to the usual fanboy prerequisites for women 2) is a minority actress in Star Wars‘ most diverse film yet and 3) played a character central to a storyline that focused almost exclusively on its female cast. The trolls accused the movie of being a Social Justice Warrior film instead of, in their words, sticking to the “classic” story of Star Wars, and much of their ire was placed at Tran’s feet.
Tran removed herself from Instagram and, sadly, has spent the past few months in a depressive funk. But, like the phoenix, she’s returned stronger than she was before, ready to take on those who wished to silence her. She’s also come out with a new way she wants us to address her, her birth name Loan.
Tran wrote about her experiences and newfound fighting spirit in a New York Times op-ed titled “Kelly Marie Tran: I Won’t Be Marginalized By Online Harassment.”
Throughout the op-ed, Tran talks about how America’s culture had, at one point, made her ashamed to be an Asian woman who didn’t fit the narrow box of beauty ideals. As she writes:
“I had been brainwashed into believing that my existence was limited to the boundaries of another person’s approval. I had been tricked into thinking that my body was not my own, that I was beautiful only if someone else believed it, regardless of my own opinion. I had been told and retold this by everyone: by the media, by Hollywood, by companies that profited from my insecurities, manipulating me so that I would buy their clothes, their makeup, their shoes, in order to fill a void that was perpetuated by them in the first place.
Yes, I have been lied to. We all have.
And itw as in this realization that I felt a different shame–not a shame for who I was, but a shame for the world I gew up in. And a shame for how that world treats anyone who is diferent.”
By the end of the piece, she not only promises to not stay silent, but she promises to fight for a more equitable, more socially-just world.
“I want to live in a world where children of color don’t spend their entire adolescence wishing to be white. I want to live in a world where women aren’t subjected to scrutiny for their appearance, or their actions, or their general existence. I want to live in a world where people of all races, religions, socioeconomic classes, sexual orientations, gender identities and abilities are seen as what they have always been: human beings.
This is the world I want to live in. And this is the world that I will continue to work towards…You might know me as Kelly…My real name is Loan. And I am just getting started.”
I’d been worried about Tran ever since she left Instagram, but I’m happy she’s found the gusto to say no to toxic fandom culture and the racism and sexism that drove those trolls to harass her off of Instagram. I hope her return sends the right message to those guys–their time of ruining people’s lives is coming to an end, and the more people speak out and turn the tables on them, the more power they lose.
You can read Tran’s full op-ed here.