Enrichment Arts & Culture

‘Batgirl’ casts first openly trans character to appear in a DC Comics film

Story at a glance

  • Actress Ivory Aquino will portray trans hero Alysia Yeoh in the upcoming “Batgirl” film — the first time an openly transgender character will appear in a DC Comics feature film.
  • Fans had suspected Aquino, who is also trans, had been cast earlier this month when the news was leaked by “Batgirl” cast member Leslie Grace.
  • LGBTQ+ representation in superhero films and television shows has improved markedly in recent years, especially in the DC Comics universe.

Ivory Aquino has officially been cast in the upcoming HBO Max film “Batgirl.” Aquino, a transgender actress, will play Alysia Yeoh, who is also trans, marking the first time an openly transgender character will appear in a DC Comics feature film.

Fans had suspected Aquino had been cast as Yeoh earlier this month, when fellow “Batgirl” cast member Leslie Grace captioned a photo of her and Aquino: “Barbara and Alysia,” with a bat emoji tagged on the end.

Yeoh, the best friend of fellow heroine Barbara Gordon (to be played by Grace in the upcoming film), first appeared in a 2011 issue of the comic “Batgirl.”

“Aah the bat’s out of the bag,” Aquino wrote Wednesday in an Instagram post. “THANK YOU for the outpouring of love from dear friends & beloved fans of #Batgirl and her #bff #AlysiaYeoh.”


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“Kudos to #DC #WarnerBrothers @hbomax for bringing onto the screens of the #DCuniverse a depiction of #trans folks that’s reflective of our existence in the world (or part of it at least!),” she added.

LGBTQ+ representation in superhero films and television series has improved in recent years, with progress led mostly by characters in the DC Comics universe.

The appearance of the psychic hero Dreamer, played by Nicole Maines, on the CW series “Supergirl” in 2020 marked the first time an openly trans superhero was shown on television. The titular hero’s sister Alex Danvers, played by Chyler Leigh, came out as gay during the show’s second season.

Meanwhile, Ruby Rose’s — and later, Javicia Leslie’s — Batwoman on the CW show of the same name has always been a lesbian. The animated DC series “Harley Quinn” ended its second season with a kiss between Quinn and fellow supervillain Poison Ivy as they stage a Thelma and Louise-like getaway from Ivy’s planned wedding to a man.

In the Marvel universe, the 2021 film “Eternals” depicts a same-sex marriage between Phastos, played by Brian Tyree Henry, and Ben, played by Haaz Sleiman. The pair share Marvel’s first on-screen, same-sex kiss, which resulted in the film being pulled in a handful of Arab countries, where homosexuality is illegal.

Prior to the film’s release, Marvel had been criticized for its slow integration of LGBTQ+ characters into its films and television series. An unnamed gay character briefly appears in the 2019 film “Avengers: Endgame” and Tom Hiddleston’s “Loki” last year was retroactively revealed to be bisexual in his spinoff Disney+ series of the same name.


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