Comics · Queer

A to Z: Alysia Yeoh

Our final transgender character of the month, Alysia Yeoh is a supporting character in the New 52 Batgirl series. Created by the wonderful Gail Simone as Barbara Gordon’s roommate, Alysia is an aspiring chef of Singaporean descent and a local activist, enlisting Barbara in efforts to create a free-to-all community garden and things of that nature. She’s fun, she’s loyal, she’s tough. A perfect best friend for Barbara, and a well-written character in her own right.

alysiayeohAlysia is important. There have been other trans characters in comics, including Coagula and Wanda, but those women appeared in lesser-known mature titles. There are rather a lot of shapeshifters who can change their genders, and even a handful of superheroes who are one gender in daily life and another in their superhero identities, but while those things may make important statements about gender, it’s not the same thing as being a human person who is trans. Alysia is one of (if not THE) first mainstream characters, and also one of the few (or only) ones who’s a normal human woman dealing with immediately-relatable issues. Her intersectional identity is similarly treated: She’s a woman, a trans woman, a woman of color, and bisexual. She’s matter-of-fact about all those things, and the comic doesn’t obsess about any of them.

Gail Simone isn’t writing Batgirl at the moment, it’s been rebooted again or something. Alysia has been very much in the background since then, but she appeared prominently for the first 30 or so issues, and she’s still around for stories any time the Batgirl writer knows what to do with her, so here’s hoping!

Recommended Reading:

Batgirl Vol. 1: The Darkest Reflection by Gail Simone (pub. 2013, ISBN 978-1401238148) and so on through the Simone series. The coming-out issue is #19, and it’s available on Comixology, but be advised it’s part of an arc, not a standalone!

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