Today, DC Comics released its groundbreaking “Batgirl #19,” introducing the first openly transgender character ever in mainstream comic books. In this story, Alysia Yeoh comes out as transgender to her roommate, Barbara Gordon — also known as Batgirl.
Writer Gail Simone says that she was inspired to introduce Alysia during a Wondercon panel, at which a fan asked why there were fewer gay male superheroes than lesbian female ones. Comic book writer Greg Rucka noted that while comics were becoming much more inclusive, he looked forward to gay and transgender characters being featured on covers.
“I looked out into the audience, saw dozens of faces I knew well —
LGBTQ folks, mostly — all avid comics readers and superhero fans and DC
supporters,” Simone tells Wired. “And it just hit me: Why was this so
impossible? Why in the world can we not do a better job of
representation of not just humanity, but also our own loyal audience?”
Simone isn’t concerned that the reveal will drastically change Alysia, who was first introduced in 2011 as a bartender, artist, and somewhat reluctant activist. Alysia is Singaporean, bisexual, and treats Barbara with warmth and
acceptance despite Barbara’s increasingly obvious secret life. Being trans is only part of her story.
She will be “a character, not a public service announcement … being trans is just part of her story. If someone loved her before, and doesn’t love her after, well — that’s a shame, but we can’t let that kind of thinking keep comics in the 1950s forever,” says Simone.