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DC Comics’ First Transgender And Bisexual Character

Batgirl #19 had a huge surprise inside when it hit stands last week, introducing the first transgender character in the DC Universe, Alysia Yeoh. According to the writers of the issue, this is just the beginning for trans characters in comics.

The Comics Code Authority was formed in September 1954 in response to a widespread public concern over gory and horrific comic-book content, but it also restricted sexual content such as homosexual characters. The ban on referring to homosexuality was revised in 1989 to allow “non-stereotypical” depictions of gay men and lesbians. Since then we have seen Bat Woman, Green Lantern, and countless other characters come out of the closet.

Now DC comics has taken a huge leap forward with the introduction of the very first transgendered character in Batgirl #19:

3. Writer Gail Simone spoke to Wired about the new character:


I looked out into the audience [at Wondercon], saw dozens of faces I knew well — LGBTQ folks, mostly — all avid comics readers and superhero fans and DC supporters. 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? … Look, we have a problem most media don’t have, which is that almost all the tentpoles we build our industry upon were created over a half century ago… at a time where the characters were almost without exception white, cis-gendered, straight, on and on. It’s fine — it’s great that people love those characters. But if we only build around them, then we look like an episode of The Andy Griffith Show for all eternity.

The transgender character, Alysia Yeoh, is the roommate of Barbara Gorden aka Batgirl. Taking care to distinguish Yeoh’s sexual orientation from her gender identity, Batgirl writer Gail Simone noted that the character is also bisexual.

5. The public’s response has been overwhelmingly welcoming:


@GailSimone Got a rousing cheer from the LGBT Conference at Princeton today when I told them about Alysia! #BatGirl— Superior Spider-Dave

Wow! DC Comics introduces first trans character. This makes my day. http://t.co/j6DqcDWJYa

— ThomasPageMcBee (@Thomas Page McBee)

Wow! DC Comics introduces first trans character. This makes my day. http://t.co/j6DqcDWJYa— Thomas Page McBee

Batgirl #19 Reveals an Important Addition to the DCU http://t.co/ViXFdfzIgt

— dcwomenkicknass (@DC Women Kicking Ass)

Batgirl #19 Reveals an Important Addition to the DCU http://t.co/ViXFdfzIgt— DC Women Kicking Ass

8. “It’s time for a trans hero in a mainstream comics… And it’s going to happen.”

Simone also says there will be another trans character in a different comic she’s writing. “Look, we have a problem most media don’t have, which is that almost all the tentpoles we build our industry upon were created over a half century ago… at a time where the characters were almost without exception white, cis-gendered, straight, on and on. It’s fine — it’s great that people love those characters. But if we only build around them, then we look like an episode of The Andy Griffith Show for all eternity.”

Check out more articles on BuzzFeed.com!

Sarah Karlan is the associate LGBT editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Sarah Karlan at sarah.karlan@buzzfeed.com
 
 

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