BB-8 from "The Force Awakens" COURTESY: Getty

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away … robots had gender identities.

BB-8, a circular droid and early front-runner to be the breakout star of “The Force Awakens,” is already a hot toy. But now, we’ve learned a new detail about him, and it is … that we need to stop referring to “him,” because the droid is actually female.

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Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy refers to the Tatooine-dwelling droid as “she,” and reports from the set are that most of the crew referred to BB-8 using female gender designations. A source close to the production confirmed to the Daily Mail that the droid is definitely “a she” and was designed that way to appeal to female toy buyers.

“[Director] JJ [Abrams] was determined to make BB-8 cute and strong – and female,” the source explains. “They want to appeal to girls as much boys, who have traditionally been the fan base. She’s going to be one of the breakout hits of the film.”

On the one hand, this is an encouraging sign for the future of the “Star Wars” universe. Whereas the original trilogy had one significant female character (sorry, Jabba’s scantily-clad alien dancers don’t count), Abrams’ take on the same galaxy is already expected to contain a female hero, a female stormtrooper (Gwendoline Christie), a female pirate queen (Lupita Nyong’o) and now, a female droid.

For decades fans have speculated about C-3PO’s possible sexual preferences, and whether he and R2-D2 are meant to represent something other than platonic best friends. A “Star Wars” book published this year even debuted the galaxy’s first gay character. Compared to the ’70s, it seems that these new takes on a sci-fi staple are being created in what Obi-Wan Kenobi might describe as “a more civilized age.”

Posted by:Larry Carroll

Writer, Geek, Bon Vivant.