Today, Wired and Comics Alliance ran with the headlines “DC Introduces First Transgender Character in Mainstream Comics” and “‘Batgirl’ #19 Features First Openly Transgender Character In Mainstream Superhero Comics” to announce the revelation of Alysia Yeoh in Batgirl #19 as transgender, a character first introduced in 2011′s Batgirl #1. But there has been some questioning whether that is true or not. The articles do contain some equivocation.
Although Alysia Yeoh may be the first ongoing transgender character in a mainstream superhero book, Simone notes that there have been transgender characters before in independent comics and mature readers titles; and even in the Marvel and DC superhero universes, several characters have achieved gender-fluidity through fantastical means like magic, shape-shifting, brain-swapping, and cloning. “Those characters exist [and] that’s great, but I wanted to have trans characters who aren’t fantasy-based. And I feel like there’s a lot there yet to do.”
But how does it stand up? Even just sticking to DC Comics, there is Ystin of Demon Knights, who was introduced years ago in Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers in 2005. However the character was disguised rather than transgendered initially, and was rebooted as a transfluid character in Demon Knights. Although far more of an issue in the comic, Ystin’s gender identity has, deliberately, never been tied down. There’s Suzie Su of Red Hood And The Outlaws, but she was only introduced in issue 2, a month after Alysia, and her gender identity was only confirmed by writer Scott Lobdell outside of the comic.
There’s the likes of Lord Fanny in Invisibles, Wanda in Sandman, Rebus, Danny The Street and Coagula in Doom Patrol, but they are considered either non-superhero or non-mainstream because they are mature dealers. Though you did get conversations like this.