Disclaimer: I am a cisgender individual! I’m spotlighting Trans characters in comic books today in honor of Trans Visibility Day, but if my language is problematic or do not live up to my position as Ally, please comment or message me. Constructive criticism is wonderful!
I wanted to showcase some of the best written Trans Characters in Comics. At the end, I’ll include links for readers to read more about Trans Characters, and Characters who are Genderfluid/Can change gender due to magic/shapeshifting.
Jo – Lumberjanes
Lumberjanes is about a camp for girls, period. When Jo first discussed being Trans, no one batted an eye. Her friends already knew, like April who grew up with Jo. When this is revealed to readers, it’s not framed as a big dramatic moment, it’s just a fact of life. It’s important also the context in which it’s discussed; Jo brings in up while talking to a camper from the neighboring boy’s camp who is more comfortable with the Lumberjanes. It’s also important that Jo, out of all of the Lumberjanes, is Trans. She’s the leader of the group AND a Trans girl of color (and the daughter of two fathers). She’s the one the others look to for guidance, for leadership.
Alysia Yeoh- Batgirl
Alysia Yeoh is the Trans Singaporean-American activist former roommate of Batgirl. She also holds the distinction of being the only Trans Woman I could find in the history of comics who gets married (to her long time girlfriend)! Alysia may not be a superhero in DC Comic’s main comics, but in the DC Bombshells universe, a young Alysia works AS a Batgirl, instead of with one.
Braga- Rat Queens
Braga is a fiercely loyal, and scary strong warrior. She’s the leader of the fearsome group, Peaches, and she’s an orc who likes to flirt with one of the Warriors Dave. She left her position as heir to the orc throne because her family refused to accept who she was in the One-Shot “Braga: The Once Prince, Now Bastard.”
Cassandra- The Wicked and Divine
The three characters I’ve mentioned above Cassandra live in worlds where they are, for the most part, accepted and surrounded by supportive people. Cassandra is not. As Trans Woman of Color, she deals with Transphobic comments (in addition to cultural appropriation). She’s a complicated individual- scratch that. She’s kind of a jerk. I think that’s a good thing. She’s got depth, she’s got opinions, and a harsh tongue. She’s a real human being with real human problems. (SPOILERS) To quote an article in Vice, “In particular, Gillen was concerned about writing Cassandra, a transgender journalist who is one of Wic+Div’s main characters. Her gender identity isn’t a plot point, but it does affect how other characters interact with her—much as it would in the real world. That’s part of what makes Wic+Div so strong: Being trans (or mixed race, or bisexual), isn’t something that only comes up in convenient moments, but is something his characters carry with them at all times. Their identities shape the way they travel in the world, and the way the world in turn responds. All too often, diversity in comics seems randomly assigned—a single signifier of difference tacked onto characters that otherwise act and think like straight, white, cis folk. By undergirding his fantastical plot with a very real world, Gillen makes it all the easier for readers to suspend disbelief when necessary.”
There are multiple Genderfluid and Trans characters throughout the history of comics, as this article discusses in further depth. Sera, Xavin, and Tong in Marvel Comics, Shining Knight, Porcelain, and others in DC Comics (Like…Comet? Supergirl’s Horse? What?). There’s also Leo in the webcomic turned Boom! title Help Us! Great Hero. They aren’t always depicted positively, and sometimes are shown as just stereotypes. Dagger Type in Batgirl was depicted as the “man in a dress” stereotype, and Wanda in The Sandman: A Game of You is literally misgendered by the Moon. THE MOON. Magic in the Sandman Universe is Cisgendered, Hetero-Normative BS (I’m sorry Neil Gaiman, but really).
For whatever reason, there seem to be more high profile Trans Women in Comics, than Trans Men, which is something I hope will change as more Trans writers break into comics. If I missed any Trans characters in comics, please let me know, and also check out some webcomics that include Trans characters like Questionable Content and The Princess.