‘Grey’s Anatomy’ introduces first nonbinary doctor in show’s history

E.R. Fightmaster on Grey's Anatomy
ABC/Bonnie Osborne

The TV show “Grey’s Anatomy” is breaking ground again with the addition of a new cast member and character. E.R. Fightmaster has signed on for a recurring role as Dr. Kai Bartley. Fightmaster is nonbinary and plays the show’s first nonbinary doctor, first introduced in the Oct. 7 episode.

Bartley is a neuroscientist on Dr. David Hamilton’s research team to find the cure to Parkinson’s disease along with Dr. Meredith Grey and Dr. Amelia Shepherd.

“They are dedicated to their craft and extremely talented at what they do,” reads ABC News’ description of Bartley. “Confident as hell and able to make even the most detailed and mundane science seem exciting and cool, Kai and Amelia bond over their shared love of medicine and the brain.”

Fightmaster, who uses the pronouns they/them, is an actor, writer and musician. They recently appeared on Hulu’s “Shrill,” on Showtime’s “Work in Progress” and are in the band Twin.

“I was just like, ‘Oh, you do kind of have to create the character yourself.’ You have to create nonbinary characters,” Fightmaster said in an interview with IndieWire earlier this year. “You have to decide that these characters are going to be nonbinary because the industry is not creating them for us.”

Although Bartley is the show’s first nonbinary doctor, they are not the first nonbinary character to be portrayed. In 2019, Arielle Hader played Toby, the medical drama’s first gender nonbinary patient. The show has had several LGBTQ actors and characters, as well. Alex Blue Davis, who is trans, played surgical resident Casey Parker in Seasons 14-16. Nonbinary actor Sara Ramirez played Dr. Callie Torres, who identified as bisexual, from 2006 to 2016. And Jake Borelli, who currently portrays Dr. Levi Schmitt, came out as gay the same day his character came out on the show.

Fightmaster will next appear as Bartley when “Grey’s Anatomy” returns on Nov. 11.

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Tricia Goss
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