KWilsher posted a lengthy post about the history of homosexuality in the comic world. After this post, DC comics introduced its a transgender character in Batgirl #19
The writer of Batgirl, Gail Simone, attributed the inspiration for the character to a conversation she had with fellow comic book writer who said a real sign of change would be for a gay male character to appear on a comic cover and an even bigger step for a transgender character to be on the cover. Simone recognized there was so many LGBTQ people who were huge fans of comics and decided to create a better representation of humanity and the fan base of comics within the comics (link).
I think this is a huge step, representation is very important in all forms of media. While more gay and lesbian characters have been making their way into mainstream media, transgender characters have not had as much of an increase of representation in media. There are many people do not know what “transgender” means or know how to properly talk about it. A lot of people say things that mainstream America is not “ready” to deal with these issues, but we shouldn’t have to wait for the mainstream to be “ready” because transgender people exist. Trans* people cannot hide until the rest of America is ready to accept them. Things like this are positive because they push unknown forms of identity into the spotlight and begin the process of “teaching” the rest of America about people who are not like them.
Comics like this not only show the diversity of society, but also provide role models for people who are different than the cis-gender, white people who so frequently dominate media. Providing these role models for young people leads to more acceptance of identities that are different than their own and allow young trans* people to be less afraid to reveal their identities.
Obviously one comic isn’t going to solve the issues transgender people face on everyday basis, but I think it is a step in a positive direction and might encourage people to write more trans* characters in the future.