Trans Power: A List of Amazing Transgender SuperheroesJanice
The film and television industry has introduced us to a lot of male and female superheroes, but today, we are celebrating trans power!
The appearance of trans characters in comic books had a long development history, and it’s not fairly an easy ride. According to Autostraddle, trans characters were often only introduced as “shapeshifters, aliens, and victims of magic spells or science fiction body swaps” in the early periods of the 1940s.
In the early ’90s, trans characters finally get better attention, through the rise of alternative comics at DC. Trans characters had substantial roles with more relatable narratives. In recent times, authors can now more freely create characters and express their gender identity and expression! There is still a lot of work to do, to be fair, but this has been such a good improvement.
So much of the short history, let’s take a look at a list of transgender superheroes.
Kate Godwin (Coagula) – Doom Patrol 1993
Kate Godwin, also known as Coagula, is a transwoman from 1993 comic ‘Doom Patrol’ written by Rachel Pollack. Pollack is a transwoman herself so the character was really special to her. Kate is part of a squad of superheroes named after the comic itself. Kate’s superpowers allow her to “coagulate and dissolve liquids at will”. She is also bisexual and is in a relationship with another character with a human brain and a robotic body.
Masquerade – Blood Syndicate 1993-1994
Masquerade was a character in the comic book for the superhero group Blood Syndicate. It was written by Dwayne McDuffie and Ivan Valez, Jr. The comic was made up of mostly African-American and Latino characters.
Masquerade was introduced as a shapeshifter, which is how he transitioned himself. However, if we take a closer look at his character, we will realize that he is a trans man. This makes him the first trans-male superhero introduced in comics. Fade, one of the characters in the comic, found out about his gender assigned from birth. Masquerade has consciously chosen to work as a male superhero because this is his idealized version of himself.
Danielle Tozer – Nemesis series 2017–present
Danny was 15-years-old when she gained the powers of Dreadnought, the world’s greatest superhero. In the process, her body was transformed into a girl. Danny had to get used to her new body while battling the supervillain who killed Dreadnought.
Walter Langkowski was an Alpha flight member, who believed he gained the power to become a hairy giant after self-experimenting with gamma radiation. The transformation is triggered by will power. Unknown to him, his Sasquatch form is actually linked to The Realm of Great Beast and that an evil beast called Tanaraq is slowly taking over him. The beast eventually took over Walter, and one of his teammates, Snowbird, turned into a white Sasquatch and kill him. After Snowbird aka white Sasquatch killed Tanaraq, Walter’s spirit was left drifting without a body.
When Snowbird died in white Sasquatch form, Walter took over his teammate’s body and was temporarily trapped on her female form. He went by the name Wanda Langkowski for a while.
Mantra- Malibu Comics mid-1990s
Mantra is the lead female character from the Malibu Comics lines the Ultraverse. She was originally a male warrior named Lucasz. His energy entered the body of Eden Blake, who is struggling with a recent divorce. The two spirits inhabited Eden’s body. Lucasz had a hard time adjusting to Eden’s life with an ex-husband and two kids to deal with. When Marvel acquired the rights to the Ultraverse imprint, they introduced a new Mantra. Unfortunately, the whole line of characters was canceled and was never seen again after that.
Mighty Man- Image Comics
Mighty Man is a supporting character from the Image comic book, ‘Savage Dragon’. His power can be passed down from one person to another. At this point, Mighty Man resides in the form of Ann Stevens. Whether the person he resides in is male or female, Mighty Man is always portrayed as a tall, blonde male. Mighty Man has been a supporting character for years, but the truth behind his identity and sexuality has never been revealed to anyone, not until Phyliss discovers his secret.
Lord Fanny- DC
Originally born as a male, Hilde Morales was raised a girl by her witch grandmother so he can inherit the witch’s mystic powers, which can only be passed on to females.
Eventually, Hilde took a mystic initiation in Teotihuacan, where it was revealed that her patron goddess is Tlazolteotl, the goddess of filth and lust.
Shvaughn Erin- DC
Shvaughn Erin has the perfect transgender narrative, not to mention a love story that’s sure to die for.
Shvaughn Erin was a Science Police Officer introduced in the late 70s. She was a supporting character in the Legion of Super Heroes. After fighting the Khunds with Karate Kid, she was appointed as the Science Police’s Liaison to the super team. Soon she developed a romantic relationship with Legionnaire Element Lad. The relationship went on for years, but after the Earth gets on a destructive war, Shvaughn reveals that she was born a boy. She says she has been taking a drug called Profem to become a woman. During the war, the drug supply became scarce and hard to obtain. Shvaughn slowly reverted to the male form. Nevertheless, Element Lad continues to see him as Sean Erin.
Live the dream.
After Ragnarok, the spirits of the gods of Asgard took refuge in human bodies. However, Sif got trapped in the flesh of a dying human. When new magical bodies were made for them, Thor called them back to enter these new bodies. Sif’s host was too frail to return, so her new body took the nearest spirit that didn’t have an awaiting form, Loki’s. Sif as Loki gets entangled with the schemes of Norman Osborn, The Hood, and Doctor Doom. He spent a lot of time manipulating the Avengers and Young Avengers. Sif was eventually found out, and Loki took his masculine appearance. However, after the battle with The Void, Loki took the magical Norn Stones to destroy it, killing him in the process. He was reborn as a young boy, and no longer as a woman. However, in recent years, Loki has become more gender-fluid, even transforming back and forth from male to female as he pleases.
The Ultra-Humanite- DC
Ultra-Humanite used to look like Lex Luthor. He was a criminal scientist who fought Superman on several occasions by using his “mind-energy”.
However, the constant use of these energies resulted in the eventual deterioration of his body. To address this problem, he developed a procedure that allows him to transplant his brain to another body. He chooses the actress Dolores Winters, thinking that authorities are less likely to believe that a woman in the public eye could be a criminal mastermind.
Ultra-Humanite battled the All-Star Squadron in the form of Dolores Winters. Eventually, Dolores’s body gave up and Ultra-Humanite realizes that the human body is just too frail for his powers. He decided to transfer his brain to a white gorilla, which becomes his “permanent” form.
Sir Tristan- Camelot 3000
Sir Tristan is a star of the classic Arthurian legend of Tristan and Isolde. Sir Tristan was part of a group of Round Table knights, who were resurrected in a dystopian future, following King Arthur’s return to prevent an Alien invasion. However, Sir Tristan was reincarnated as a woman, as is his beloved Isolde. The story of Sir Tristan appeared in Alan Moore’s classic sci-fi comic Camelot 3000. It is one of the earliest explorations of alternative sexuality in comics.
The next characters were not born with superpowers, but we are giving them a mention because of the impact they left in trans history in fiction.
Wanda Mann- Sandman Series
Wanda is the best friend of the book’s main character, Barbie, and is one of the people living in an apartment building with her. When Barbie was trapped in Dream land and must be rescued, the witch Thessaly took two girls in the apartment but left Wanda behind.
When she wanted to know why she can’t help rescue her friend, the bodiless face of a man named George gave her a devastating answer.
“It’s because you’re a man. That stuff they did with the uh moon, that was a woman thing,” Gorge said in Sandman #35.
Wanda tried to argue, saying she’s “had electrolysis. I’m taking hormones. All that’s left is just a little lump of flesh; but all that doesn’t matter. Inside I’m a woman.”
However, George only replies, “She (the moon) doesn’t seem to think so. And to be honest uh well even if you had uh had the operation it wouldn’t make much difference to the moon. It’s chromosomes as much as uh anything. It’s like uh gender isn’t something you can pick and choose as uh far as gods are concerned.”
Wanda’s story was written more than two decades ago, yet, her struggles still echo in modern society.
Alysia Yeoh -Batgirl #19
April 10, 2013, in Batgirl #19, Alysia Yeoh, Batgirl’s bisexual, Singaporean-American activist roommate came out as trans. This moment is the first time the readers are introduced to a non-fantasy, non-science fiction, human trans character in a non-mature, mainstream comic book.