It was a big weekend for Star Wars fans, as iconic fan-favorite character Ahsoka Tano made her long-awaited live-action debut on Friday’s new episode of The Mandalorian. For many fans, however, it was also a difficult weekend, as Rosario Dawson, who plays live-action the character, has been entangled in a year-long lawsuit with trans man Dedrek Finley, alleging transgender discrimination and transphobic attacks.
Tano first made her appearance in the Clone Wars animated film and series back in 2008, where she was one of the main characters, serving as apprentice to Anakin Skywalker. She also appears in the animated Star Wars Rebels.
Fans have been begging for Dawson as a live action version of Tano for years, but when rumors started swirling that it might be happening, others were disappointed, or at least conflicted, as the actress had recently been sued for transgender discrimination and harassment.
Dawson spoke with Vanity Fair to address the controversy. “Well, firstly, I just want to say I understand that, and why people were concerned, and are concerned,” she said, “I would be, too, if I heard some of those claims.”
“But I mean, as we're seeing right now in these past months, and just recently actually, the truth is coming out,” she continued. “Every single claim of discrimination has been dismissed by the person who made them.”
According to Vanity Fair, 18 out of the 20 discrimination claims have been “withdrawn voluntarily without a settlement” in the lawsuit, leaving only two charges related to an alleged physical altercation between Finley and Dawson’s mother. Finley’s lawyer has also left the case. A Los Angeles court will decide next month if there’s enough evidence to continue with the final two charges.
“The reason that all of the discrimination claims were dropped is because they didn't happen. I was raised in a very inclusive and loving way, and that's how I've lived my entire life,” Dawson said, “I've always used my voice to fight for, lift up and empower the LGBTQIA community, and use my platform to channel trans voices, in fiction and nonfiction work that I've produced and directed. So I feel the record is really clear.”
The original suit, filed last year, alleged that Dawson’s family violated Finley’s civil and labor rights, intentionally misgendered and deadnamed him, and assaulted him while yelling transphobic insults.
He had been a longtime family friend who was hired for construction work by them. The suit alleged that while working for the family, they repeatedly misgendered Finley and when they tried to force him out of the apartment they had set up him, Dawson and her mother got physical, shoving him to the ground and holding him down while insulting him.
When that allegedly happened, Finley was able to get a temporary restraining order against Dawson’s mother. ““I always hoped there would be some reconciliation,” Finley told Out back in 2019, “but when it goes physical, that’s it. You have to take a stand for yourself … not only for myself but for the community.”
It currently isn't clear whether Tano will be returning to the series, or if her appearance was a one-time-deal.