If trans activists get their way, eventually every movie in Hollywood will include positive trans representation. That effort is already underway, and now DC Comics is adding their first openly transgender character in a live-action film with the upcoming “Batgirl” movie.
Deadline reported that Ivory Aquino, who is a trans woman, was cast as Alysia Yeoh, the best friend of Barbara Gordon/Batgirl (Leslie Grace). Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah are directing the new movie for HBO Max. There is no release date for “Batgirl” yet as filming is currently happening in the U.K. Speculation grew when Aquino shared a photo alongside Grace on social media.
Aquino joins previously announced cast members including Grace, J.K. Simmons, Brendan Fraser, Michael Keaton, and Jacob Scipio.
The plot of the new “Batgirl” movie is being kept secret, but we know the project is based on the DC comics created by writer Gail Simone and illustrator Ardian Syaf. The story will revolve around Gotham City police commissioner Jim Gordon’s (Simmons) daughter, Barbara (Grace). Aquino’s part will be as the bartender Alysia Yeoh.
It’s not the first time trans characters have been cast in superhero movies. Deadline reported that Nicole Maines played the trans hero Dreamer on The CW’s “Supergirl” in 2018. The following year, trans actor Zach Barack was cast in the Marvel movie “Spider-Man: Far From Home” as a classmate of Peter Parker’s.
Meanwhile, Aquino has prior experience in the Netflix series “When They See Us” and “Tales of the City,” plus had an appearance in ABC’s “When We Rise.” Aquino also had parts on “Blue Bloods,” “FBI: Most Wanted,” “New Amsterdam,” and “High Maintenance,” plus several smaller film parts. “Batgirl” will be Aquino’s first foray into superhero films and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
While trans characters have been a part of movies for decades, LGBT lobby groups complain about the nature of the roles. They claim that most representation has the trans person playing a villain or having a mental illness. Plus, they claim the person’s trans status is often portrayed negatively, such as in the classic 1992 drama “The Crying Game.” In that movie, the female love interest is revealed to really be a man, which serves as a shocking twist and not in a good way. And then there’s the controversy over who plays trans characters in movies and TV, and whether people who are trans in real life have to “act straight” to get parts.
But a lot has changed since the 90s. Now, trans characters are celebrated, and there’s no reason to believe it won’t be the same for “Batgirl.”
And the trans community is just deepening their ties to Hollywood and the entertainment industry. Recently, MJ Rodriguez made history as the first openly transgender nominee to win a Golden Globe. Rodriguez won Best Actress in a TV Drama for work on the FX series “Pose,” which just aired its series finale in June 2021.
In 2015, trans star Jen Richards told the L.A. Times that Hollywood was stuck in its “Sidney Poitier phase of trans representation,” but a lot of time has passed between now and then, with this group pushing their way into every facet of the entertainment industry.
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