DC Comics has debuted its first transgender character in the pages of Batgirl.
The character is Barbara Gordon’s roommate, Alysia Yeoh, who is also bisexual. She revealed her status to Gordon in this month’s Batgirl #19, written by Gail Simone, with art by Daniel Sampere and Vicente Cifuentes.
LGBT characters were once banned by the Comics Code Authority, but their ranks have grown in the pages of DC and Marvel comic books over the past several years.
Though sometimes this causes controversy (usually when a heterosexual character is retconned to be a homosexual), other depictions of LGBT characters have been celebrated and embraced by readers and mainstream media.
DC Comics told Wired that they plan to continue expanding roles for LGBT characters with the introduction of Yeoh’s transgender character.
Writer Gail Simone said that she decided to introduce the Yeoh character as trans when she realized how many LGBT friends she has in her personal life, as well as how many fans belong to the culture.
“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 says that diversity is “the issue for superhero comics,” since most characters in the books were created over 50 years ago. Because of that, they’re almost exclusively white and heterosexual.
“If we only build around them, we look like an episode of The Andy Griffith Show for all eternity,” she said.
Simone also said that she plans on introducing a trans character in another comic book she’s writing, as well. However, she wouldn’t say which, only hinting that it’s “time for a trans hero in a mainstream comic.”
Check out the page from Batgirl #19 below, where DC Comics introduces their first transgender character.
[Image via: Batgirl #19, written by Gail Simone, with art by Daniel Sampere and Vicente Cifuentes]