Over the past few years, DC Comics has been making inroads to better representation for the LGBT community on the page, and this week they’re taking one more step forward at the hands of writer Gail Simone.
The company revealed today that in “Batgirl” #19, Barbara Gordon’s roommate Alysia Yeoh announces her status as a transgendered woman and bisexual. It’s the former piece of the supporting character’s gender and sexual identity that may make waves amongst superhero readers as being trans has long been a blind spot in superhero comic books.
“She was created as a trans character, she’s hinted at a part of her life she hadn’t yet shared with her roomie, Barbara Gordon, since issue early in the series,” Simone told New Now Next.
In a separate interview with Wired, Simone explained that the origins for the move came out of discussions she had years previous with former “Batwoman” writer Greg Rucka about diversifying superhero comics. And like past steps towards diversity, the writer is looking to make the story as honest as possible even if it turns off some readers. Simone promised Yoeh would 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.”
But overall, the writer expressed confidence in the comics community to support the move. “There’s a large LGBTQ readership in comics, the audience is hugely diverse. It’s wonderful. Our common language is nerdhood. I love that. We may come from different continents, but dammit, we can recite the Green Lantern Oath!”
Of course, while Yeoh is the first trans character for a capes-and-tights book, she’s not strictly the first trans character in the mainstream or at DC. In the ’90s, both Lord Fanny from Grant Morrison’s “The Invisibles” and Wanda Mann from Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” are both easily identified as transgender, though their debuts didn’t garner the attention this one has due to their removal from big time movie and toy franchise characters.