Holy Bat Girl: DC Comics introduces transgender characterBreaking News, Top Highlights Friday, April 12th, 2013
Despite a huge LGBT following and a growing number of gay comic book characters – Batwoman, Northstar, The Green Lantern and Kevin Keller, to name but a few – DC comics has revealed in Batgirl: Issue #19 that Barbara Gordon’s roommate (aka Batgirl) is transgender. However, author Gail Simone has no plans of dressing up Alysia Yeoh with superpowers. “I want to do this right, representation is important. No one wants stereotypes or tokens. We want believable characters we can care about, that we want to know more about,” revealed Simone in an interview with NewNextNow.com.
For followers of the series, Alysia, who has been a mainstay since issue one, is known as the smart, ambitious young woman from Singapore who dreams of being a master chef. But like so many of her cohorts, remains chronically underemployed. But through series of events (it’s not easy being Batgirl), Alysia has never had a chance to share her true self with Gordon.
But when asked if Alysia had plans of revealing herself to more of Simone’s characters (and whether they will be as receptive), the author remarked plainly, “Sadly, there’s a lot of transphobia out there. I can’t say she’ll NEVER face someone who is ignorant or bigoted. But Alysia is very confident in herself, and I think it’d be lovely for her story to be a positive one.”
The history of trans characters in comics, while sporadic, is by no means unheard of. In Sandman (a comic that was published under DC’s Vertigo line), Neil Gaiman included a preoperative transsexual character named Wanda Mann. Lord Fanny was a transgender shaman and primary character in The Invisibles by Grant Morrison, and Coagula was a transgendered heroin in Doom Patrol (both titles published under DC’s Vertigo line). Marvel also featured a transgendered character named Xavin (an alien that regularly changed between male and female) in their popular Runaways title.
“There’s a large LGBTQ readership in comics,” posits Simone. “The audience is hugely diverse. It’s wonderful. Our common language is nerdhood. I love that.” And for a transgendered comic book audience, one less barrier is lowered into the kingdom.
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