In issue #19 of DC's recently rebooted Batgirl series, Alysia Yeoh, Barbara Gordon's roommate, comes out to her as being transgender. Despite being a bartender by night and social activist by day, Alysia immediately became a fixture in Barbara's life and, as a result, a constant presence in Batgirl's pages.
While independent comics have made leaps and bounds in incorporating queer and trans characters into plots, mainstream comics have struggled to keep up.
LGBT-coded characters like Marvel's Mystique and Destiny or explicitly queer characters like DC's Midnighter and Catwoman have been around for some time now, but trans and gender non-binary characters are still relatively hard to come by.
In an interview with NewNowNext, Alysia's creator, Gail Simone, insisted for all the progress that the industry has made towards broadening the types of characters it featured in stories, she was committed to keeping Alysia in readers' minds.
"There’ve been some wonderful steps forward lately, even in mainstream comics like Batwoman and Runaways, all of whom have LGBTQ characters in starring roles," Simone said. "But it wasn’t that long ago that any mention of sexuality was outright forbidden in mainstream comics at all."
When asked about what Batgirl has in store for Alysia, Simone was frank, explaining that, like any character, she was likely to be put through the ringer:
"Sadly, there’s a lot of transphobia out there. I can’t say she’ll NEVER face someone who is ignorant or bigoted. But Alysia is very confident in herself, and I think it’d be lovely for her story to be a positive one."
Since then, Batgirl's got a new creative team behind it and had its brushes with backlash, particularly after a transphobic villain, Dagger Type, was introduced in a widely panned subplot. But the book seems to have regained its footing in tomorrow's issue featuring Alysia's wedding to her longtime girlfriend.
What the future holds for Alysia and her new bride is up in the air, but in a relatively recent issue, it was hinted that she might, one day become another of Gotham's masked vigilantes.