How “Batgirl #37” Undid a Year and a Half of Positive Trans Representation in a Single Page (Updated)

“But you’re a —!” With three words and a shocked expression, Batgirl #37 let us all down. Just three short issues into the new creative team of writers Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher and artist Babs Tarr’s run after taking over from the amazing Gail Simone, they’ve already undone a lot of the trans-positive momentum the book, and DC Comics, had been building. In this latest issue, not only do the writers play with some very dangerous transmisogynistic tropes, but they toss Barbara Gordon’s character development out the window and turn her from being the close friend and ally to a trans woman to an outright transphobe. Since I’m talking about an issue that came out just a few days ago, this article will contain spoilers.

In this issue, there’s a fake Batgirl going around town, wearing an amazing bedazzled costume, helping criminals rob from celebrities (á la Pretty Wild or The Bling Ring) and posing for art exhibits. Of course, Barbara Gordon herself, the real Batgirl, wants to put an end to this. She goes to an art exhibit featuring photographs of this new Batgirl set up by the artist Dagger Type and finds a message in them telling her to go to the Burnside Bridge that night. Once there, during her battle with this impostor, she manages to pull of fake-Batgirl’s mask, and also their wig. In what ends up being a fairly disturbing scene, Batgirl sees that the impostor is in fact, Dagger Type himself. Batgirl freezes and her jaw drops as she yells “Dagger Type? But you’re a —” clearly about to say “a man” before she has to dodge a bullet from Dagger’s gun.

This is exactly how you shouldn't react in a situation like this. Art by Babs Tarr

This is exactly how you shouldn’t react in a situation like this. Art by Babs Tarr

Now, at this moment, Batgirl had no way of knowing Dagger Type’s gender. She’s seen one picture of him and an artist’s bio once and then she’s seen him dressed up as Batgirl multiple times. So she’s seen Dagger Type presenting as a woman way more than presenting as a man. Why does she assume he’s not trans? If you pull the wig off of someone who you thought was a woman, it is 100% transmisogynistic to yell in shocked horror that they are a man. If Barbara didn’t know any trans people or have a shown history of being a great trans ally, this behavior might make sense (although it would still be offensive). However, that’s the exact opposite of what the case is. I mean, just imagine if Alysia Yeoh had seen Barbara react this way. She would have sat her down and called her on her bullshit.

Barbara Gordon was one of the few characters I love who I didn’t have to imagine as being trans positive. I knew she was. It was canon. Her roommate and one of her best friends was Alysia Yeoh, a queer trans woman of color like me. If you’ve read Batgirl #19, you know that Barbara reacts pretty much perfectly when Alysia comes out as trans to her. She reacts pretty much the opposite way she does in this comic, and it’s one of the best moments in all of comics in the past five years. While she does seem a bit surprised at first, she immediately segues that into a hug and an “I love you.” So in Batgirl #37, we see Barbara turned from an ally who had a great reaction to Alysia coming out into someone who sees someone else, who based on what she sees, is very likely a trans woman, and reacts with surprise and even disgust. What if this had happened between Alysia and Barbara before Alysia came out? Would Barbara have accidentally pulled off Alysia’s wig (if she wore one) and shouted “you’re a man!”? I really don’t think so. That’s not the Barbara Gordon we’ve come to know and love, and so this issue seems like a total betrayal of her character.

See, this is how you react. Pencils by Daniel Sampere

See, this is how you should react in this situation. Pencils by Daniel Sampere

All of this isn’t even bringing up the fact that the both the “deceitful trans woman” and the “villainous trans woman” are dangerous tropes that feed transmisogyny and anti-trans violence. Now, I personally don’t think Dagger Type is a trans woman at all. I think it’s pretty clear that he’s just an asshole over-the-top hipster performance artist. In fact, the person he reminded me of the most was Dennis from the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia episode where he and Charlie sing “Day-man” for the first time. But that doesn’t mean he’s not playing to these classic anti-trans woman tropes. Just like the serial killers in Dressed to Kill and Psycho, we are shown an evil criminal who isn’t actually trans, but for all intents and purposes, is portrayed in very much the same way trans women are often portrayed in media.

What makes this even worse is that a few days ago, Batgirl co-writer Cameron Stewart tweeted out “Batgirl 37 is the one we’re all most excited for and also most nervous about.” While he didn’t give any more details, after someone said they’d be fine as long as they didn’t “do an Aaron Sorkin” (referring to the recent rape victim-blaming episode of The Newsroom), he tweeted “damn, internally we refer to this one as the “Newsroom” issue.” So, even though Stewart definitly had a joking tone, it seemed like he had some idea that the issue might offend some readers.

I was really rooting hard for this new team, and especially excited for Babs Tarr. I love Gail Simone, and I loved her run on the series (and especially the introduction of Alysia Yeoh and all the stuff she got to do), but I was also excited to see this new, stylish, fun and fresh take on the character. Many readers were worried that without Simone and with Batgirl moving out of her apartment that she shared with Alysia and into Burnside, we would stop seeing Alysia and lose the most mainstream trans woman in comics. While she has been seen on a few pages of the new run, including a few in this issue, it seems that things are worse than we thought.

Dinah (Black Canary), Barbara (Batgirl), Alysia and Barbara's new roommate Frankie. Art by Babs Tarr

Dinah (Black Canary), Barbara (Batgirl), Alysia and Barbara’s new roommate Frankie. Art by Babs Tarr

Ultimately, this issue left me feeling sad, hurt and betrayed. They even included Alysia in the issue, which in hindsight, seems like a way to say “Hey look! We’re not transphobic! We’ve got a trans character!” As I was reading this issue I was having a great time. It’s funny, it’s clever and youthful, it’s got a super diverse cast and the art is absolutely amazing. There are great references and a bunch of fun cameos. But then, in one little panel, Batgirl reminded me that no matter what I do and no matter how great of a trans ally I think they are, many people will still see me a as a man and be shocked when they find out I’m trans. Batgirl #37 really hurt me and insulted me, and it will take a while for the book to earn my trust again.

Update: Yesterday, writers Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart and artist Babs Tarr posted a very genuine and meaningful apology to twitter. They truly understand what was wrong with the issue and why it was offensive. They offered a real apology (not a “we’re sorry if we offended anyone”) and promised to do better. It’s incredibly refreshing and encouraging to see creators react this way and it gives me a lot of hope for the future of the book. This is how you react to being told you’ve done something transphobic the right way. On twitter, Stewart and Fletcher said “We made mistakes. We’re deeply sorry. We will do better” and the released the following statement that was cosigned by them and Tarr.

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Mey Rude is a fat, trans, Latina lesbian living in LA. She's a writer, journalist, and a trans consultant and sensitivity reader. You can follow her on twitter, or go to her website if you want to hire her.

Mey has written 572 articles for us.


  1. Awwwww, crap. I haven’t read the issue yet, but I have been loving the new run of Batgirl (and a little enamored of Frankie); this is a huge disappointment. What the hell were they thinking? There doesn’t seem to have been any reason to include it – just switch “but you’re a – ” to “you’re – ” and everything’s cool. I don’t know the authors well, but hopefully they will be responsive to feedback.

  2. Really fucking angry about this :( Batgirl has been one of the comics I’ve most looked forward to each month for the past couple of years, admittedly with more hesitation since the new writers took over from Gail Simone (who incidentally since I discovered her through Batgirl has become one of my favourite comics writers, and in fact one of the first whose work I read because it was her work). And to make things worse, one of the writers responsible for this – Brenden Fletcher – also writes Gotham Academy, which is another one I’d been really enjoying… but won’t be able to now, because I’d be constantly worrying about when another bombshell like this was gonna drop on my head :/ So yeah, definitely feeling betrayed right about now.

  3. And DC fucks up yet again right on the heels of the Batwoman rape. What a surprise. I knew this would happen once Gail Simone left. There are really only a handful of writers I trust at DC and Marvel not to be completely offensive when it comes to race, misogyny or LBGT characters and when they aren’t involved in a series I pretty much check out. For good reason.

  4. I’m not a comics person but am I surprised about this… no. Hate to be Debbie Downer but, in my experience, allow non-trans people to be in charge of picturing trans characters and trans-related situations and you WILL eventually face the likes of what’s happening in Batgirl. Guarded trust and hopefullness a trans representation can be good… yes; the assumption that they get it and will continue to get it… nope. I’ve been burned too often. :(

  5. Well, that really sucks. I’m nowhere near caught up on current DC stuff, but Batgirl was one of the few titles I was looking forward to reading because the art looked amazing and it actually looks FUN, which seems like a major rarity at DC these days. And I had heard about the previous positive portrayal of a queer trans woman so it was the last title I expected this sort of fuckery from. UGH.

    • I still recommend issues 1-34, which was Gail Simone’s run. Although in light of this, maybe find a way to read them that doesn’t give DC money -_-

  6. We desperately need more queer and/or trans female writers in mainstream comics. I mean, are there any at all?

    • Yes! First there’s Trees by Warren Ellis, which features several trans characters (male, female and otherwise). Shutter (another Image comic) also has a trans character who I was worried got fridged, but was back with a vengeance in the latest issue.

    • Oh, also The Wicked + The Devine has a trans woman as one of the major characters, though her arc has nothing to do with her gender identity.

      • Oh, yes, I know there’s some trans characters in comics. But I meant we need some trans women actually creating the comics. But those sound interesting so thank you for the recommendations anyway! I actually love that one of them features a trans woman and her identity isn’t part of the arc. As much as I love a good gender identity narrative, it’s very cool to just see trans characters exist in stories.

  7. It hit a lot of the tropes Gold glitter, wig, shitty make fun of make-up and a trans villainess.

    I so hoped for better but just… words failed wit hopes.

    • Honestly bailey, not surprised, just disappointed. Though I did chew the writer/artist a new one on twitter.

  8. Thank you for the warning and analysis. I have this issue on my pull list, but now I’m debating between not buying it and giving the title another issue or two before making a decision.

    • *sigh* That was supposed to be Tyra Banks telling DC that she was rooting for them. We all were. And how dare they.

      Somehow, DC’s creative decisions are to blame for my html fail, too.

  9. It also really bothered me that they went so far with the “deceptive trans woman” trope that Dagger Type’s goal was actually to kill and replace a cis woman (Batgirl). That’s nearly some Silence of the Lambs level transphobic garbage.

    I do appreciate that they responded with a legitimate, we’ll-written apology. That means a lot. Now we’ll see what happens with the book going forward, I guess.

    • I’ve not seen the apology but given that they knew in advance it was gonna be a source of friction, it doesn’t seem like any apology would be especially legitimate

        • Having seen the apology now, it’s… well written. If I hadn’t seen the “Newsroom issue” tweets, I’d be more than happy to accept it, and maybe even give them another chance as writers. But I *have* seen the tweets, so frankly I’m inclined to think they wrote the “apology” before the issue was even published, “just in case”.

    • There’s actually some cis dudes on Twitter complaining that they apologized at all. What a ridiculous world we live in.

  10. That’s utterly ridiculous. Babs’ reaction at the revelation was one of shock, NOT revulsion as you are so desperately trying to imply. But I know, in this day & age, there will always be people who will go out of their way to be offended by something so they can make a huge stink about it on the ‘net and get some attention. If you had ANY familiarity with the creative team, you would KNOW they’ve always championed equality for all, and this issue was no different, so stop trying to twist a fact to suit your agenda, they’re only responsible for what they say, not for what you comprehend, and the fact that you choose to project an incorrect meaning on the page in question just speaks volumes of your character.

    • How dare someone interprets the page differently than you!
      Because you are obviously the universal human and all your opinions are objectively right that must mean that there must grand sweeping statements about these dang kids these days speaking up when they don’t like something. How dare they complain about something you personally dont find offense! How outrageous!

      Oh by the way, playing the whole “x thing speaks volumes out your character” is never a smart move to play, because it can be always thrown right back in your face.

      Your reaction to an article that explains in detail about how the reaction was offense on a historical and contextual level, is to throw some insults at the author to belittle their argument with no actual counter argument.

      If her shock was so obviously so inoffensive then why are so many people getting upset about? Oh, I see, you believe in the asinine notion that there are people who run around looking for things to get offended over. But since you are offended are those people getting offended, clearly you don’t think that being offended is inherently wrong, just when they are disagreeing with you. How wonderfully self conceited.

      The truly funny thing about this is that this article is the only reason you are here. You are the one who actually went out of their way to come here to be offended by something. How hilarious. You probably dont even read Batgirl at all, ha!

    • Right on the money, SIK. Also, Dagger Type was NEVER identified as transgendered. The MOST you can say is that he is a cross-dresser. The guy dressed up so that he could steal her fame not because of any issues with his gender identity and he literally said that out of his own mouth. Either you didn’t read it or you didn’t understand what you read. If it had been vague I could understand but it was explicit in it’s intentions.

      • I have read the article. I just don’t understand the issue, sometimes villains are gay, sometimes they are straight and sometimes they are trans. It’s just part of the story. The only thing the page shows is that Barbara was surprised that the villain who was dressing up like a woman was actually a man, I don’t get why that makes people upset.

        And I have seen a lot of people voicing their complaints about the issue, so there is obviously something I’m missing here?

        • *Even if* it was just surprise, and not shock or revulsion, it still serves to reinforce the conflation of sex and gender (as Mey pointed out, Barbara didn’t actually have any way of knowing Dagger’s gender at that point), and of presentational styles (“dressing up like a woman”) with both sex and gender, and in doing so others trans people.

          • I think she was surprised that the biological sex of Dagger’s was male after seeing her running around in a tight costume that exposed her female body that included breasts. This doesn’t have anything to do with how Dagger identifies herself.
            This is the whole twist of “The Crying Game” and I’ve never heard of any offense taken toward that movie in the past 25 years. I agree with the poster that equated this twist to nothing more than the shock in the end of a Scooby Doo episode where the twist is simply based on the fact that the villain was not what you once thought it was, which makes it jarring.

        • If you’ve never heard of The Crying Game being considered offensive, then you need to do more research. If I was inclined to be charitable, I would describe it as “of its time.” Which would make a modern story featuring the same sort of attitude regressive.

  11. You are not being fair. The Alysia moment wass one thing. It was a welcoming moment where Alysia came to Babs and outed herself. Alysia wasn’t dressing up as Babs, fighting her, posting giant art installations detailing private moments of her life and committing crimes in her name as “Batgirl.”

    And you are assuming that Dagger Type is a transgendered individual, where within the context of the story he was merely using Batgirl as a Brand to promote himself (notice i said “himself” because nowhere within the story was it even hinted that he saw himself as a woman, or even referred to himself as a woman outside of referring to himself as “Batgirl”).

    Although I will concede that Babs initial shocked words can be construed as damning, we are also not in a post gender society yet, and it’s natural for characters to be surprised because society is still sorting itself out on the issue. However, Batgirl still features Alysia as one of her best friends, and apparently a main character in this title. She doesn’t treat her any differently, Alysia is still a social justice champion, so to think of the book as transphobic is silly.

    • Exactly! “BatGlam” was a marketing ploy by Dagger Type, he’s a narcissist & an ego maniac, NOT a transgender:

      “Behold the moment where you, in your mind, begin to comprehend that the artist is really the subject. And the subject, his brand!”

      “HIS brand”, clearly identifying as a male, not a woman, not a trans, and the ridicule he received on stage from the crowd was because of his shameless self-promotion, it had nothing to do with him dressing as a woman. It was more of an indictment against David Bowie than anything else.

      And the scene referenced as having undone so much progress, the page where Babs pulls off the cowl & wig, “Dagger Type? But you’re a – – “, was a reaction of SURPRISE, NOT one of revulsion! It was no different than the ending of any Scooby Doo episode where the gang unmasks the villain & exclaim, “Old Man Withers! You were the ghost of the haunted amusement park this whole time?!” I really wish people would stop trying to project negativity & hatred where there clearly is NONE. The intent of this issue is explicitly presented within the pages and there is nothing in there that demeans or degrades anyone. Which is why it seems to me that this writer is just out for attention, and that’s a much more damning indictment than any of the imagined tropes within a silly little comic book.

      • Mey and many of the readers here (myself included) are huge comic book fans. Does it really make sense that we would prefer comics that offend us just so we can “get attention”? I’m fairly positive that I speak for all of us when I say we’d much rather just read things we enjoy and don’t make us feel like freaks than just coming up with excuses to be angry as you seem to think we’re doing. Mey has also written extensively about comics that are positive representation for women of all types. So she’s obviously not just out to destroy comics or anything.

        And they could have easily had that Scooby Doo moment without reinforcing age-old tropes that do no one any good. Batgirl’s shock should have been about who was under the mask, not their gender.

    • I’m not sure either of you actually read the article. In it I say, “Now, I personally don’t think Dagger Type is a trans woman at all. I think it’s pretty clear that he’s just an asshole over-the-top hipster performance artist.” So I clearly say that I don’t think he’s trans. (and both “transgendered” and “a transgender” are incorrect and sometimes offensive terms).

      Pretty much every other point you both make is also refuted in my article. So before you make claims as to what I’m saying, please read my words next time.

      • I have to say that, as another transwoman comic reader, while I don’t share in your outrage at the moment or agree with your interpretation of the scene, that I do see where you’re coming from.

        I feel that there was no ill will meant in this issue, it did play into a lot of negative tropes that follow transwomen (transmen pretty much don’t exist in fiction, sadly) through fiction. And even though the character was not trans, that’s pretty much the excuse used almost every time, “They’re not trans, just a crazy cross dresser!” But those characters are still what helps form people’s views on trans people. THAT SAID, I also feel that a cross dressing or trans villain is actually a fine thing in and of itself. Trans folks can be anything in life, including the bad guy or gal.

        So even though I believe no harm was meant, harm was done and I’m glad the creators apologized and I hope that we can get more KINDS of representation of trans characters. I’m hoping we get some trans love in Bitch Planet actually.

        • I’d actually love to see some kickass trans villains eventually. But I feel like we need more positive portrayals of trans women first. You know, maybe at least one hero? Or at least if we are the villain, I don’t want the creators resorting to the ancient and played out deception trope.

          • I may at some point in the future be making a webcomic starring a trans lesbian antifascist militiawoman as the hero :) Not a superhero, but still

          • Danielle, i’m impressed – and simultaneously sad because every ‘spot on politics’ queer take on a trans woman character has been an utter waste and disaster so far, but 4chan have actually succeeded.

            It just reinforces what i have said to my (transsexual) girlfriend.
            ‘I’m gay, transhumanist, whisky & beer drinker, geek/gamer and working class first and everything else so far behind beyond the horizon, there in fact is nothing else left. I am clean of all ‘theory’ and despise it – and you need not worry i will suddenly get an ‘update’ or read a ‘book’. you are safe.’

            When i analyse how much social currency i have to expend in evil miso geek and music subculture communities for having her and how much i have to expend in queer community – those things aren’t comparable.

            just wanted to push the puppy face first in the pool of its own pee, that’s all

        • “THAT SAID, I also feel that a cross dressing or trans villain is actually a fine thing in and of itself”
          I agree, and I think we *need* trans villains whose trans status is irrelevant to their characterisation as a villain, just like we need three dimensional trans characters of all sorts. But the problem here is the way the script makes Dagger Type’s perceived sex seem relevant to their female-coded presentation as Batgirl and invites the reader to be disgusted or at least shocked by the “reveal”

          • This. If you’re going to make a trans villain, make a villain whose transness isn’t related to their villainy. A mad scientist who makes evil robots and who happens to be trans is delightful. That same scientist making fembots to replace women because of twisted views on gender is toxic and offensive. This shouldn’t be that complicated.

      • Yes, I did actually read it, and I honestly think you over reacted. She was fighting what she thought was a woman, for her to suddenly find out it was a guy, why wouldn’t she be surprised? You’re basically offended that she didn’t presume her opponent could possibly be a male. It was a twist the creative team didn’t want anyone to see coming, not a knock against trans. Surely you’re aware of that & don’t believe their intent was to offend anyone. That single panel didn’t undo a stitch of the work Gail Simone has done for the past three years. If she had reacted with disgust, I’d back you up 100%, but, well, she was surprised, not disgusted.

        • Sik, unfortunately tunnel-vision precludes many from seeing intent, legitimate alternative interpretations, and plain old logic. When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

        • The bit that made it seem like you didn’t read the article – or alternatively, ignored it – was when you mentioned that Dagger Type was “NOT transgender” as if that was the point. Maybe there were also other things as well, I dunno I didn’t read past there.

  12. I find this article and the reactions of its readers more disturbing that anything in that comic. Both the author of this article and many of the people who have commented, find a narrow interpretation of what the authors intended and promote it as hate speech against the trans community. Being unable to see another persons viewpoint, and being intolerant of their works of “art” is far worse than anything they may or may not intended. Instead of invoking a conversation with the authors and creating a dialog where they may be understood, they are condemned for not understanding you as you want to be understood.
    The LGBT community has withstood a lot of violence and hate against it. Now it has become the modern equivalent of the very people that have condemned us for centuries. You can not implement change by not creating a dialog. Everyone has a right to be offended by whatever they choose, but you do not have the right to condemn someone without talking to them first, or at least letting them present their opinions. Articles like this and everything else that tries to strike a flame in the hearts and minds of those so militantly inclined as themselves, are extremely dangerous. All your doing is trying to start a war that will not end positively for anyone involved. The very people that have actually fought for out rights, should be ashamed of all the hate speech that these types of articles promote.
    The very fact that a fictional character finds shock at seeing a man, and not complete understanding offends anyone is completely outside my understanding. It is not outrage, contempt, it is not covered by hate speech, it is not met with bashing, it is merely shock at seeing the unexpected. If we are going to be outraged at shock, then we need to start being outraged at every straight person who is shocked, or doesn’t completely agree with us. There is no room for outrage or contempt when you are trying to gain acceptance. All it does is undo centuries of positive LGBT representation with a single article, anonymous comment, or outraged indignation because someone else doesn’t agree with you.

    • Effect is at least as important as intent, and it has the effect of reinforcing existing harmful tropes. And the “Newsroom issue” tweets suggest the intent was transphobic anyway.

    • Oh for fucks sake. Right or wrong, an article like this is not dangerous. White male comic book creaters are not a marginalized group that’s going to start being discriminated against because some queer and trans people found a comic offensive.

      I agree with Mey that this comic uses some ugly tropes that have a transphobic history. Whether the intention was transphoic or not, I think it was a poor choice to include a story line with a male villian masquarading as a women. Given that transphobes frequently try to convince the public that trans women are merely men in drag attempting to gain entrance to women’s spaces for nefarious purposes this is the type of storyline that, in my opinion, should be avoided.

      You are free to disagree, but don’t act like trans women making their voices heard and their opinions known is “hate speech”. There was no hate directed at the creators of this comic, just understandable anger, frustration, and disapointment.

  13. mey, i completely disagree with you. i think you’re interpretation of this issue is wrong. but regardless of what i think, you’re interpretation is you’re own and you are entitled to it.

    what bothers me more though is that the creative team apologized. apologized, not for being transmisogynistic, but for reminding readers of it. it’s a sad day when artists feel they need say sorry for that.

    I have two questions, though, and i’m genuinely interested in the answers.

    1. why is it that the only thing Barbara could have said in that moment is ‘man’?

    2. and is it not just as destructive to think, or represent, a trans persons can only be good? is it not a fair and balanced approach to have a positive trans image in Alysia and a negative one in Dagger (assuming of course, he’s trans, which to me it’s clear he isn’t)?


    • I don’t really know why I’m responding to this, but I’ll bite.

      1. She’s expressing surprise, and the comic suddenly starts drawing DT with overtly male facial features. What exactly is she surprised at, if it’s not the thing right there on the page that they’re clearly expecting the reader to be surprised at.

      I don’t know whether this is a sincere or disingenuous question on your part, but discussing a really obvious intance trope that trans women have been denigrated by over and over — the unmasking of the “fake” woman — and playing it off as though it might be accidental or unrelated is some cis gaslighting BS and actively harmful to trans women. Cut that garbage out.

      Protip: if you really are too ignormant to be familiar with that trope, then I suggest you defer to the expertise of people who know what we’re talking about instead of arguing with us.

      2. Having one portrayal of a trans woman as a normal person and another portrayal embodying a negative stereotype as someone seeking to murder and replace a cis woman isn’t balance, and it isn’t nuanced character development. If you want to develop more interesting portrayals of marginalized people, don’t throw more negative mainstream stereotypes into the mix, develop three dimensional characters whose flaws naturally flow out of their personalities and experiences.

      And I don’t know how you could possibly be unclear about what Barbara was about to say but dead certain about Dagger Type’s gender identity unless you are being completely disingenuous, but portrayal of “men as fake usurpers of womanhood” is a negative trope about trans women because it is a negative mainstream stereotype that trans women are “really” men who are pretending to be women, and this is often used to deny us basic civil rights. I’m not going to write you an essay about this here, so in the event that you’re being genuine, please go educate yourself. There are tons of resources online.

      • ah yes, the ‘trust us, we’re experts’ approach.

        not to mention the ‘if you don’t know the answer to your own question, i’m sure not gonna tell you’ approach.

        it’s crap like that (and Starling and Alison’s comments below) that make it near impossible for people like me who want to understand, to keep on wanting to understand.

        and i’m certain about Dagger’s gender identity because it’s in the comic.

        • There are plenty of answers throughout this thread and in the article itself. I’m honestly at a loss as to how we can make our thoughts on the matter any clearer.

        • And if you were truly sincere about wanting to understand the issue and not just antagonize us like I get the very distinct impression you are doing, then why in the world wouldn’t you trust us? Who else, if not trans women, would be the experts on matters such as these?

        • You’ve probably thought about trans people for what, a few minutes in your whole life? An hour? Several hours if you have an unusual curiosity about us?

          You will apparently be surprised to discover this, but trans women spend an amazing amount of time being trans. When tropes are used against us, we notice them a lot. When people treat us like crap or discriminate against us, it’s pretty impossible for us not to notice that. We ARE experts, whether we really want to be or not.

          There’s tons of stuff written about being trans. By trans people. Here on this site and elsewhere. Whole books filled with it. I’m happy to cover some basics in a few paragraphs in response to a comment, but I’m not going to write you a whole essay on command, nor am I going to go research you a whole bibliography full of links.

          It’s delightful that you “want to understand”, but you apparently don’t want it badly enough to be respectful of the people whose time you’re imposing on, so maybe you can go find some other activity where someone will give you a cookie for making even the most minimal effort to be a decent human being.

        • If people like you don’t WANT to understand, maybe people like you should just take a walk off a short cliff instead. Those are the two options available to you.

  14. Gee, I think that’s the most comments from men I’ve ever seen on an AS article. Bet someone an A+ sub that they got linked here by some MRA-smelling nerd boy blogger.

      • Hmm, looks like we were half right. There’s a link here from a semi-critical article about the comic itself on Comic Book Resources. So the link itself probably wasn’t put in with the intention of encouraging trolling, but it *is* in a place a lot of MRAs who happen to also be geeks would be likely to see it. I reckon a lot of them came here from there

    • You realize you’re attacking commenters solely on their gender? That kind of hypocrisy isn’t going to further any discussion.

      This article has been cited by a few comic blogs hence the new visitors.

      • She is just making note of the apparent genders of most of the commenters being dismissive of the idea that the comic uses certain tropes that are obvious to anyone remotely familiar with those tropes.

        She is making assumptions about their politics based on their being asshats, and using their apparent gender as evidence to support that assumption. (Men with ill thought out opinions who go out of their way to air them on women-centric blogs are often MRAs, and a sudden influx of such people usually means being linked from more seedy areas of the internet.)

        I would say that calling people nerds on an article analyzing the social implications of using certain tropes in comics is silly. Anyone who has an opinion here is a nerd.

    • How about Google? =) I read Cameron Stewart’s apology on Twitter, then hit up Google for “Batgirl 37”. =)

    • Unlike cisfeminists, the MRM doesn’t really have a subsection dedicated to hating on trans women to the point of acts of genocide (yeah, that happened, go read Transadvocate’s articles on Janice Raymond, you know, Adrienne Rich’s bestie)…

      Though I’m sure there are some closteted, socially marginalized, trans women who have a reason or two to call out some seriously busted and sexist shit that happens to CAMAB people instead of continuing to worship a model that seems to centre the concerns of the only kyriarchal victim group to be less homeless, jailed, or dead, than it’s putative oppressors.

      This feminist, lesbian, survivor, trans woman, is just saying…

  15. I think this is taking overreacting to whole new levels. And it’s VERY selectively ommitting information from the issue. I’ve made my opinion heard here but I’ll repost here to counter some of your points.

    To quote you: “Now, at this moment, Batgirl had no way of knowing Dagger Type’s gender. She’s seen one picture of him and an artist’s bio once and then she’s seen him dressed up as Batgirl multiple times. So she’s seen Dagger Type presenting as a woman way more than presenting as a man. Why does she assume he’s not trans?”

    These are falsifications. Babs has seen a picture of him, a picture of him dressed as a boy, with a v-neck and hairy chest and arms showing. The picture was accompanied by a bio stating his gender MULTIPLE times as male. So in fact she’s clearly ONLY seen dagger type presenting as man. Later on in the issue, when he shows up again dressed as Batgirl he’s not even using a chestplate (fake boobies), so it’s even more clearly stated that he’s in fact a drag artist and not a trans woman. I mean, he even refers to himself in the male pronoun!!!

    as for the scene you HAVE posted, the wig and mask pulls off to reveal… a man painted in excessive drag queen makeup, sporting a predominantly male haircut. She sees a drag queen, she has NO reason to even for a moment think this might be a trans woman.

    Drag culture = NOT a trans woman. And I don’t see any trouble with showing a drag queen as a villain. As a rule drag queens emply catty and over-the-top shady fake personas, just like this villain did here.

    • Okay, so back before I was out to everyone, when I was just starting to go out in public as a woman, it would have been okay to call me a man? There were bios of me in places that had pictures of me with a beard that used “he” pronouns. But if someone saw one of those pictures and then later, saw me in public and hypothetically ripped off my wig (I never actually wore a wig but I know many, many trans women who did and do) it would still be transmisogynistic to shout that I am a man.

      And many drag queens are trans women. Just look at Carmen Carrera for a very famous example.

      It also seems fairly clear that you didn’t read my article as I state “Now, I don’t think Dagger Type is a trans woman at all.”

      • You mention that in the article – sandwiched between a rant about the “deceitful trans woman” trope. If you admit that you don’t consider the character a trans woman, how does he fall in a trans woman trope. Drag is a different thing from trans woman. They’re not mutually exclusive, but those are very rare examples (out of 100 drag queens I know of, only 3 are out trans women).

        You’re omitting a very important point I made. The character refers to himself in the male pronoun, even when he’s in drag, in the final scene. I can’t follow your parallel example here, because in your case you wouldn’t refer to yourself in the male pronoun.

        Even with all these hypotheticals, we’re perverting a very simple point. Even if the character was a trans woman (which they’re again, not), Babs didn’t shout “you’re a man!” as a kind of mocking jab at them. She was startled that this impersonator was someone who for all she KNEW was a cis-man – and who has a clearly male appearance and haircut under the mask and wig. She had an honest reaction, she wasn’t judging that person about their life choices. Is this scenario transmisogynistic, even when they’re no actual hate or harmful intention involved?

        There’s not even a single demeaning phrase uttered against this extremely flamboyant drag character from anyone inside this whole book. This whole affair is doing a great disservice and bad-mouthing one of the very few comic books out there that is actively pro-LGBT represenation and rights, and it’s hurting and insulting me.

        • The character doesn’t have to be trans to perpetuate the trope. The most famous example of the evil/creepy trans woman is Norman Bates, who is not trans at all. But many in the media don’t really know the difference between trans women and drag queens and cross dressers and many audiences don’t either. And the media often uses the same language as shorthand for characters who fit into any of these three categories.

          And you say that Dagger Type, “for all she knew was a cis man” but for all she knew, he was a trans woman. She didn’t know either way, and that’s where the transmisogyny comes in. Like I said in the article, if you think someone is a woman, and you pull of their wig, shouting that they are a man is transmisogynistic. It doesn’t matter if you call a trans woman a man in a shocked way, that’s still misgendering them. And for all Batgirl knew, she was fighting a trans woman.

          Also, the haircut that Dagger Type has is definitely a haircut that many, many women I know have. And there’s nothing about his face, or really anyone’s face, that says “I am a man.” Women look all sorts of different ways, and many trans women don’t “pass.” This doesn’t mean it’s okay to call them men.

          And again, I know dagger type isn’t a trans woman, but at the moment where batgirl shouts that he’s a man, she didn’t know that.

          • “And you say that Dagger Type, “for all she knew was a cis man” but for all she knew, he was a trans woman. She didn’t know either way, and that’s where the transmisogyny comes in.”

            Well… no. She had direct facts that this was a man. She KNEW the person under the mask from the bio earlier, and because he’s established as a big celebrity artist – hence how she recognised him as soon as the mask came off, even with the glittery drag queen makeup. It’s like the mask coming off and it’s Shia LaBeouf underneath (this is actually a perfect parallel). If you see unmask a mysterious woman posing as you and you find out it’s Shia LaBeouf dressed as a woman, you can’t help but have a shocked reaction and to (rightly!) “assume” that the male celebrity you already is male, is in fact… male.

            Plus, you completely disregard my point about the person’s intent. As for the tropes… This is a book (the ONLY book) with a positive representation of a trans character as a regular supporting cast member. Calling out a drag queen who appears for one issue and acts like… well, a drag queen as an example of a negative trans trope, I consider it nitpicking. It’s a drag queen. They’re usually loud, obnoxious, catty and fabulous, and they don’t reflect on the trans community at large in any way. This is like calling out all drag queens as perpetuating negative trans tropes, even in real life.

            I don’t mean to set shop in your thread and pick further arguments, I’ve laid out my points so I’ll respectfully bow out and let you girls continue your discussion (I was made uncomfortable by some of the other comments after my first post – I guess boys are not allowed here, even as visitors)

      • You mention that in the article – sandwiched between a rant about the “deceitful trans woman” trope. If you admit that you don’t consider the character a trans woman, how does he fall in a trans woman trope. Drag is a different thing from trans woman. They’re not mutually exclusive, but those are very rare examples (out of 100 drag queens I know of, only 3 are out trans women).

        You’re omitting a very important point I made. The character refers to himself in the male pronoun, even when he’s in drag, in the final scene. I can’t follow your parallel example here, because in your case you wouldn’t refer to yourself in the male pronoun.

        Even with all these hypotheticals, we’re perverting a very simple point. Even if the character was a trans woman (which they’re again, not), Babs didn’t shout “you’re a man!” as a kind of mocking jab at them. She was startled that this impersonator was someone who for all she KNEW was a cis-man – and who has a clearly male appearance and haircut under the mask and wig. She had an honest reaction, she wasn’t judging that person about their life choices. Is this scenario transmisogynistic, even when they’re no actual hate or harmful intention involved?

        There’s not even a single demeaning phrase uttered against this extremely flamboyant drag character from anyone inside this whole book. This whole affair is doing a great disservice and bad-mouthing one of the very few comic books out there that is actively pro-LGBT represenation and rights, and it’s hurting and insulting me.

        • Fun fact: if the artists _themselves_ offer an apology regarding the matter, then claiming that they’ve committed no offense is ridiculous – they’re stating otherwise, in direct contradiction to your comments. If they accept they messed up, then why the heck would you presume to argue the opposite?

          Secondly, you are basically going “but this doesn’t COUNT as a transgender issue” when the simple fact is that the villain, who is presenting as female, is revealed to be a male-gendered individual, whose goal is to deceive Burnside by killing Batgirl and assuming her identity. Key word: deceive. This is a trope that comes up in fiction all the time. Female individual revealed to be male, engaging in deception in order to commit some sort of misdeed.

          It doesn’t matter that the character himself didn’t overtly admit to having a trans identity, because the trope is predicated on the reveal and quite pointedly ignores the internalized identity of the character in order to make the deception apparent to the audience. The audience is expected to engage with a a narrative viewpoint that frames the ‘truth’ of the person’s identity as something determined solely by external factors, and not by the person’s internal understanding of their own identity.

          So, to reiterate, this situation doesn’t require the character to overtly state that they are trans in order to play on the trope of the duplicitous crossdresser. All that matters is that SHE is revealed in the narrative to REALLY be a HE, who is adopting a gender persona that is false. Which is exactly what Dagger Type does – he’s adopting a false persona that is explicitly gendered female, in order to deceive, for nefarious ends.

          And all your talk of drag is blowing smoke. Dagger Type is not engaging in a drag performance.

    • This is ridiculous. Babs has ALSO seen Dagger Type on multiple occasions prior, presenting as a woman and committing crimes. At no point is the fake Batgirl ever recognized as anything other than female, right up until the point of the reveal.

      The whole point of drag is that it is a performing a caricature of femininity. The underlying facet of drag is that the audience recognizes the gender performance of the drag persona is not the performer’s actual gender identity, but maintains the suspension of disbelief during the performance. No one is under the impression that RuPaul is ‘really’ a woman. That is not what is happening in the comic, and to frame it as such completely omits the conflict between the protagonist and antagonist all the way up to the point of the reveal.

  16. I think I’m going to have to gracefully bow out of this discussion. I’ve unfortunately reached my weekly limit for mansplaining. But! I just wanted to say that it has actually been kind of nice talking about comics with all the lovely ladies here. I wish we could all go to comic con together.

    • I sometimes wonder if the Autostraddle registration process should require you to say you’re female/non-binary/not-a-cis-man

      • Do you really want to keep out questioning people? Keep out bi girls’ boyfriends? All asshats would do is lie and then complain that they had to lie to register.

        Also, categorically welcoming trans men while excluding cis men is ungendering and a bad policy for a pro-trans space.

        • Um, why the fuck should Autostraddle care about the boyfriends of bisexual women? Like, no thank you. They are not magically different than any other straight dude.

          • Neither are trans men. If any men should be welcome at all, cis/transness should not be a factor and any justification for it should be consistent.

        • Good point about trans guys,maybe it should be no guys at all. But as a bi girl, if I had a boyfriend, I wouldn’t want him using me as an excuse to insert himself into spaces that aren’t for him.

  17. Sorry, but everyone who’s taken offense, Dagger Type is clearly and fabulously portrayed as a DRAG QUEEN, not as a trans woman. If you can’t see the difference in the way Dagger and Alysia are characterized in this comic, then I think you have a lot to learn about the many distinctions between trans folks and drag culture. Batgirl’s reaction to Dagger’s reveal was dead on, because guess what? The vast majority of drag queens are GAY MEN who don’t identify as either trans or women.

    To all would-be trans activists and allies, please stop hyperventilating in outrage over the antics of drag queens. All you’re doing is stirring up drama within the LGBT world and provoking acrimony and misunderstanding. Drag queens are often outrageous and offensive, but they are NOT disparanging trans women, they are making fun of YOU.

  18. I saw that episode of The Newsroom, and I am a survivor and it is not victim blaming. It is saying that presumption of innocence should still be a thing and that having “not-really-extra-legal”, but still extralegal procedures is just ReStalinist and awful.

    Pretty sure they’re guilty isn’t enough. And it is a they’re. Both perpetrator and victim. (and yes the graphic is problematic because it calls CAMABs ‘men’ and CAFABs ‘women’ respectively.)

    I’m also a trans lesbian and that was an incredibly transmisogynistic comic.

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  22. Trans person here, just popping by to say you guys are fukkin’ silly. Being transgender doesn’t change the fact you’re a human being, which means you’re still just as capable of good, evil, or being a fuckin’ moron as anybody else. Also who the hell cares about this “representation” crap, I just wanna see some characters that are actually well-written again! All of that apparently got flushed down the crapped the moment the big Comic Book publishers started pandering with this kinda stuff.

  23. Yall are stupid, drag isn’t trans and that’s precisely what this issue pointed out. Everytime something trans happens a drag queen is right there to hog attention and misrepresent us.

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