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'Batgirl' casts Ivory Aquino as first trans character in a DC Comics feature film

Aquino will play Alysia Yeoh, the best friend of the titular superhero, in the upcoming HBO Max film.
2017 Winter TCA Tour - Day 6
Actress Ivory Aquino on Jan. 10, 2017 in Pasadena, Calif.Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images file

Barbara Gordon has officially found her roommate.

Ivory Aquino (“Tales of the City,” “When We Rise”) has been cast in the HBO Max feature film “Batgirl” as Alysia Yeoh, the best friend of the titular superhero, a.k.a. Barbara Gordon (Leslie Grace).

Both Aquino and Yeoh are transgender, marking the first time a live-action feature film adaptation of a DC Comics title will feature an openly trans character. Yeoh first appeared in a 2011 issue of “Batgirl” written by Gail Simone and penciled by Ardian Syaf.

News of Aquino’s casting first leaked online in mid-January after Grace posted a photo seemingly from the set of the film to her Instagram story, tagging Aquino and captioning the shot (of two women crossing the street) with “Barbara and Alysia 😍🦇”.

There have been several strides in broadening LGBTQ representation in superhero adaptations over the past few years, especially on television. The CW series “Supergirl” included the first trans superhero on TV in Dreamer (played by Nicole Maines) and the title superhero’s sister, Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh), came out as a lesbian on Season 2. The lead character on the CW’s “Batwoman” has always been a lesbian, whether played by Ruby Rose in Season 1 or Javicia Leslie on subsequent seasons. The animated DC series “Harley Quinn” ended its second season with Harley and Poison Ivy falling in love and the DC Films adaptation “Birds of Prey” included lesbian police detective Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez). In 2021, Marvel Studios’ Disney Plus series “Loki,” the title character (played by Tom Hiddleston) revealed he is pansexual and the feature film “Eternals” included the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first same-sex couple, played by Brian Tyree Henry and Haaz Sleiman.

Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (“Bad Boys For Life”) are directing “Batgirl.” The film costars J.K. Simmons (as Barbara’s father, Gotham City police commissioner Jim Gordon), Brendan Fraser (as the unspecified main villain), Michael Keaton (reprising his role as Bruce Wayne/Batman, which he will first do in “The Flash” in late 2022) and Jacob Scipio (in an unknown role).

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