Target: Batgirl Comic writer, Gail Simone
Goal: Applaud the writer’s decision to introduce the first openly transgender character in mainstream comics.
In a recent issue of DC Comics’ Batgirl, the character of Batgirl’s roommate, Alysia Yeoh, reveals a secret she’s harbored since her introduction to the series in 2011: she is both transgender and bisexual. This is the first instance of a character in a mainstream comic openly revealing that he or she is transgender, and marks a major step forward in DC Comics’ attempts to create a broader range of diversity in its storylines.
Gail Simone, the writer of the Batgirl comic, stated that her desire to include a transgender character stemmed mainly from a wish to better reflect her audience. She described a moment where, upon looking out at an audience and seeing “dozens of faces [she] knew well, LGBTQ folks, mostly,” she felt a need to “do a better job of representation of not just humanity, but also [Batgirl’s] own loyal audience.” This led her to the creation of Alysia Yeoh’s transgender backstory, a plot development that was immediately approved by DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio.
According to Simone, the inclusion of more diverse characters, particularly those that represent the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer (LGBTQ) community are essential in modern-day comics. She stated that, “it’s the issue for superhero comics,” pointing out the problem that the foundations of the comic industry “were created over a half century ago… at a time where the characters were almost without exception white, cis-gendered (identifying with the sex he/she was born with), [and] straight.” Simone’s inclusion of a transgender character has helped the Batgirl comic to break free from these restrictive traditions, and she hopes that other writers will follow suit.
Transgender characters have appeared in comics before, but always in small roles and often only in independent comics. Furthermore, the nature of magical tropes and shape-shifting characters that permeate most comics have helped to craft allusions to gender fluidity. However, Simone’s character is the first to openly identify as transgender in a mainstream comic and Simone is unapologetic. “If someone gets upset, so be it,” Simone stated in an interview. “There are a thousand other comics out there for those people.”
Applaud DC Comics and Batgirl writer Gail Simone for incorporating the first transgender character into mainstream comics. By doing so, Simone has set the stage for other writers to do the same, and has helped to promote increased diversity in modern-day comics.
Dear Gail Simone,
Thank you for your decision to include the first openly transgender character in mainstream comics through the character of Alysia Yeoh in the Batgirl comic. By doing so, you have played an important role in opening the discussion on diversity in comics. Furthermore, you have helped to break certain stereotypes prevalent in the comic industry of what is and is not considered acceptable.
By writing a transgender character that is also one of the primary characters of the comic, you have ensured that the issue of diversity is not merely an afterthought but a major component of the story. In this way, you have set a precedent for other writers to follow, and in doing so, will help to create a more forward-thinking, progressive industry that embraces all kinds of diversity.
Thank you for working to promote diversity in comics.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: ABC Television via Wikimedia