Is Cal Non-Binary or Trans in Sex Education?

Image Credit: Samuel Taylor/Netflix

Netflix’s ‘Sex Education’ is a teen comedy-drama series that lives up to its name by focusing on all sorts of issues surrounding sex education. It begins with Otis Milburn and Maeve Wiley opening a sex clinic where they advise other teenagers to navigate the complexities of their relationships, especially from the sexual perspective. With every season, the show expands its spectrum by introducing characters belonging to varied shades of gender and sexual identities. One such character is Cal.

Cal is introduced in this season of ‘Sex Education’ when Moordale Secondary is going through a regime change with the arrival of the new headmaster, who intends to change the school’s image. Cal’s journey focuses on exploring themselves and figuring out what they like and want, especially when it comes to their gender identity and sexual orientation.

Cal’s Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation in Sex Education

The character of Cal in ‘Sex Education’ is played by non-binary actor Dua Saleh. Like them, the character in the Netflix series is also non-binary. Cal doesn’t conform to gender norms and reveals their pronouns as they/them. They are the first non-binary characters in the teen drama and become one of the central characters as the show dives into their story.

Image Credit: Sam Taylor/NETFLIX

While Cal is a generally confident person, at one point, they reveal that they are still figuring out themselves. Like any other teenager, they are exploring their sexuality, their community, and the place where they belong. In between this, they try to be as authentic and true to themselves as possible. This is why they stand up against the school administration when they feel discriminated against, especially when Headmistress Hope Haddon enforces gender-specific rules, which also include school uniforms.

It is also hinted that Cal may be trans. In the fourth season, they reveal that they are taking testosterone and are on the waitlist for surgery. The season dives deeper into their inner turmoil as they become increasingly impatient about the current status of their surgery and feel isolated because they struggle to connect with someone, especially their mother, and share their distress with others.

When it comes to their sexual orientation, Cal is fluid. They never actually tag themselves with a specific sexual orientation, but their romantic interests in the show reveal that they don’t conform to gender norms in the choice of their partner as well. In the third season, they are briefly involved with Jackson. They connect really well; however, over time, Cal realizes that Jackson is still struggling with understanding the nature of Cal’s queerness.

While they try to be patient, they eventually break up with Jackson, saying they already have enough to deal with on their own; they can’t carry his lack of understanding, too. This is in reference to Cal realizing that Jackson doesn’t understand their non-binary nature and still sees them as a girl sometimes. Another love interest for Cal appears in the fifth season, where they explore their attraction to a fellow student, Aisha.

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