Representation Matters – Batgirl’s Trans-Female Best Friend to Be Featured in New Film
By: Rose Marie Rose
In 2011, DC Comics introduced Alysia Yeoh, the first transgender character in mainstream comics in Batgirl, Volume 4, #1. She was a bartender and roommate of Barbara Gordon (a.k.a Batgirl). In 2013, in Batgirl Issue #19, Alysia Yeoh came out to Barbara as transgender. When she did, Barbara replied with acceptance and love for her friend. The character was created by Gail Simone, a writer of DC Comics who has worked on DC Birds of Prey and Wonder Woman.
In a 2013 interview with NewNowNext, Simone had this to say about the creation of Alysia Yeoh, “I want to do this right, representation is important. No one wants stereotypes or tokens. We want believable characters we can care about, that we want to know more about.”
Later this year, a live-action version of Batgirl will be released on HBO Max, and Alysia Yeoh will be portrayed by Ivory Aquino. According to the Skimm, “Aquino is a transgender actress who’s best known for her role in the ABC miniseries When We Rise, where she played trans activist Cecilia Chung.” She has also had roles on NBC’s New Amsterdam and Blue Bloods on CBS.
Although Aquino is the first main transgender character in a DC film, Nicole Maines portrayed the first major transgender character in the DC Universe on the CW’s Supergirl. In the fourth season of Supergirl, Maines was introduced as Nia Nal/Dreamer, an ancestor of the DC Comics character, Nura Nal/Dream Girl, who first appeared in Adventure Comics #317 in 1964. Nia Nal/Dreamer was a mainstay on the Supergirl series through its final episode in November 2021.
Last week, Batgirl wrapped up filming in the U.K. Leslie Grace, who portrays Batgirl in the upcoming feature, posted, on her Instagram, “Thank you to every person on the crew who made it happen. What a (ride)! Forged by fire and I’m so grateful for it.”
According to Cinemablend, along with Ivory Aquino as Alysia Yeoh, the film will hail the return of Michael Keaton as Batman and J.K. Simmons as Barbara Gordon’s father, Commissioner James Gordon. Brendan Fraser, who has recently starred in the HBO/Max series Doom Patrol, will portray the villain in the film, Firefly, who made his first appearance in Detective Comics #184 in 1952. The film is now in post-production and no release date has been set.