The character Alysia Yeoh will come out to Batgirl as a transwoman in the current issue of of the comic “Batgirl.” The gender reveal is a first for a featured character in a mainstream comic series, and for plenty of other cultural mediums devoid of trans representation.
“Batgirl” writer Gail Simone told Laura Hudson at Wired that the inspiration for the character came from a conversation with a fellow writer — and a desire to mirror the diversity of comic readers themselves:
“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,” said Simone. “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 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 ofThe Andy Griffith Show for all eternity.”
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