Infamous Comic Code Authority dies; first mainstream transgender comic character is born

batgirl443THE GUERRILLA ANGEL REPORT — Little did I know of course, while growing up, that the comic books I read off the shelves of supermarkets were cleansed in order to mold young minds into believing the world was clearly divided into two easily identified groups — good vs evil, us vs them — this difference was made clear as back and white. There were no shades of grey, never mind different colors of the rainbow. We were being programmed to be good little Republicans.

But there was also confusion — underground comics existed — far more cooler and fun to read — yet they were taboo and hard to come by. Tired of squeaky clean Archies, my interest in comics simply faded away (until Bloom County, but that’s another story).

The culprit behind this? The Comics Code Authority — an entity somewhat similar to Hollywood’s Production Code which censored films until the ’60s. If one defies the CCA, one would lose major advertising revenue — hence if one was a mainstream comic book publisher, for example, DC Comics, Marvel, Archie, et al., defying the CCA would have hurt the pocketbook, badly. This explains why the cooler stuff was found underground — these publishers made a choice not to be censored.

Over time though, the CCA backed off, and in 1989 in particular, they allowed LGBT comic characters. Since then wholesale changes in the comic world has overrun the CCA’s ability to regulate the industry and one by one mainstream publishers dropped out of the CCA. The CCA now, for all practical purposes, no longer exists.

Ironically, it is one of the last publishers to drop out of the CCA — DC Comics — that is introducing the first openly transgender character in a mainstream comic — Alysia Yeoh, Batgirl’s roommate.

Batgirl writer Gail Simone talks about diversity in Wired magazine:

“. . . Look, we have a problem most media don’t have, which is that almost all the tentpoles we build our industry upon were created over a half century ago… at a time where the characters were almost without exception white, cis-gendered, straight, on and on. It’s fine — it’s great that people love those characters. But if we only build around them, then we look like an episode of The Andy Griffith Show for all eternity.”

Also from Wired:

“. . .  [Simone] thinks most superhero comics readers don’t have a problem with increased diversity, but rather with stories that promote sermonizing over storytelling. Alysia will be “a character, not a public service announcement … being trans is just part of her story. If someone loved her before, and doesn’t love her after, well — that’s a shame, but we can’t let that kind of thinking keep comics in the 1950s forever.”

Batgirl issue #19 is out now.

More from Wired: DC Introduces First Transgender Character in Mainstream Comics | Underwire | Wired.com.

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Categories: Transgender, Transsexual, Trans

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7 replies

  1. Reblogged this on Pop! Culture & Politics and commented:
    Coolness!

  2. This is awesome, after twenty someodd years I may have to buy a comic or two again.

  3. I seem to remember a long time ago in the comic strip, “Brenda Star, Reporter”, that there was this person who was a fellow employee at the newspaper in the strip, who was always around,and was portrayed in a respectful way. If you saw this character, they were represented as androgynous. I was always curious as to what gender the character was.
    Then there were all those Bugs Bunny cartoons where Bugs dressed up as a girl and made to look very sexy. Also, there was a few scenes in the “Flintstones”, where Fred and Barny donned female cloths and went out on a stealth mission to check out their wives. Fred wound up dancing with his boss Mr. Slate.
    I know that now many of the cross dressing Bugs Bunny flicks got banned from airing on television. I for one, learned how to put on lipstick watching how Bugs did it. LOL

  4. I’m not suprise. It was just a matter of time really.

    Although I would like to see more trans characters to be a bigger part of a story later in the future. Like maybe one with powers that plays a bigger role and what not. But I am sure we eventually will in the near future.

    This is only just the beginning.

  5. DC actually introduced a post-op MTF hero years earlier. Am I the only one who read Doom Patrol? Kate was awesome! She got her powers when she was a prostitute and had serviced Rebis, whose team she later joined. She was created 20 years ago,

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coagula

  6. I bought this comic, for reasons of posterity. The trans coming-out moment is very touching – it’s a shame it’s bookended by brutal violence (not involving the trans character), but I guess that’s comics these days.
    I’m curious to see whether we’ll ever get a trans man character in comics – they remain mysteriously invisible, presumably because they’re less sexy to the general public.

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