DC Comics' Batgirl introduces transgender character

Little by little, DC Comics keeps taking steps towards LGBT diversity. Last year, Earth Two's Green Lantern Alan Scott was re-introduced as a gay character as part of the company's "New 52" relaunch. This week, the latest issue of Batgirl introduces the first openly transgender character in a mainstream superhero comic -- and oh, she's Asian: DC Introduces First Transgender Character in Mainstream Comics.

In Batgirl #19, the character Alysia Yeoh reveals that she is a transwoman in a conversation with her roommate, Barbara Gordon (aka Batgirl). Writer Gail Simone says her idea to develop a transgender character was part of a larger personal push for more diversity in mainstream superhero comics:
Simone suggested the story to DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio at lunch one day, prepared to offer a passionate defense for the idea of a transgender character. ”I thought I might have to sell it, so to speak,” said Simone. “But he just paused for a moment, asked how this would affect Barbara’s story, and immediately approved it. And we went back to our excellent nachos.”

Still, Simone believes that diversity isn’t just a continuing issue for superhero comics: “It’s the issue for superhero comics. 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.”

She added that she thinks most superhero comics readers don’t have a problem with increased diversity, but rather with stories that promote sermonizing over storytelling. Alysia 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.”
I haven't read DC's latest version of Batgirl, but Alysia Yeoh -- Batgirl's Singaporean, transgender, bisexual activist roommate -- sounds like a pretty cool, real character. More here: DC Comics Introduces First Openly Transgender Character In Batgirl Comic.

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