DC Comics’ Batgirl film adds trans superhero sidekick played by trans actress Ivory Aquino

Ivory Aquino will be playing Alysia Yeoh in the upcoming superhero film Batgirl

Batgirl has cast transgender actress Ivory Aquino to play the first trans character in a DC Comics live-action film.

Aquino will join the upcoming Batgirl film, a HBO Max project, as Alysia Yeoh, the titular superhero’s best friend and roommate, according to Variety.

Aquino’s character will mark the first time a live-action feature film adaptation of a DC comic will feature an openly trans character.

The actress is best known for her role as transgender activist Cecilia Chung in the docudrama When We Rise, and came out to the public while promoting the miniseries in 2017.

The Batgirl film, which will also feature J.K. Simmons and Brendan Fraser, is based on the DC Comics character Barbara Gordon, or Batgirl.

The character of Alysia Yeoh first appeared in the Batman Vol. 4 comic in 2011, and at the time was noted for being the first transgender character in a mainstream comic book.

In an interview with Wired at the time, DC Comics writer Gail Simone said she had made the decision to introduce Alysia as she felt the comics ought to reflect the diversity of their audience.

“Why in the world can we not do a better job of representation of not just humanity, but also our own loyal audience?” she said.

LGBT+ media advocacy organisation GLAAD welcomed Ivory Aquino’s Batgirl casting on Twitter, tagging its congratulations with #RepresentationMatters.

The organisation found in July that there hasn’t been a single trans or non-binary character in any film by one of the eight top Hollywood studios for four years.

In GLAAD’s ninth annual Studio Responsibility Index, which tracks the representation of queer characters released by the eight largest Hollywood studios, it was found that there were no trans or non-binary characters represented in any of the major studios’ 44 films.

The report also made clear that there were a “handful of major releases” that features trans and non-binary actors in recent years, but that the group did not count those in their tally “unless their story was made clear on-screen”.

The report noted that trans representation “remains one of the more glaring ways mainstream studios continue to lag behind other forms of entertainment media”.