Alysia Yeoh is a young woman of Singaporean descent living alone in Gotham City and looking for a roommate when readers are first introduced to her. The person she chooses happens to be Barbara Gordon, who is looking to start a new chapter in her life. Alysia has several interests and talents as a painter, activist and organizer, cook (for which she went to culinary school with the help of her parents), and works as a bartender. Food and rituals around it are important to Alysiah. She makes her mother’s special recipe for Laska (a spicy noodle soup) for Barbara and frequently serves her cookies and tea.
“New roomie jitters” quickly disappear for Alysia and are replaced with both a growing friendship and concern for Barbara’s well being coming from observation of Barbara’s somewhat odd behaviors as a result of her double identity as Batgirl. She falls for James, Barbara’s brother and starts to date him. Despite Alysia’s keen observation of Barbara she is unaware that James is both Barbara’s brother and that he is using her as a pawn in his plan for revenge. Rather than being scared away by James’ violence against his own family, this and related incidents cements Alysia’s friendship with Barbara and after a little more time passes she decides to share with Barbara that she is transgender. Barbara is momentarily speechless and then asks Alysia to call her “Babs” from then on (“The people I love call me Babs.”) and hugs her.
She is a committed activist, willing to be arrested in an Occupy Gotham protest and commit breaking and entering when she, a woman named Jo whom she’s also dating, and two men are duped and enlisted by a man with a criminal agenda. Fearing for her life, she calls Barbara with a last request plea to call her family and tell them she loved them. Another time Alysia organizes a group to reclaim some abandoned property for use as a community garden and underscores with Barbara its “free to all” mission. This mirrors real world efforts in communities to start gardens in under-served and marginal neighborhoods as a point of pride and personal interaction.
Gail Simone was very effective in creating and making Alysia Yeoh a well rounded and likeable character, who just happened to be transgender. Alysia was endowed with positive attributes: loyalty, empathy, humor, strength, and intelligence. When one of the main concerns of trans people is passing (or being taken for the gender with which they identify and present as), Alysia passed without raising anyone’s suspicion, especially that of Barbara/ Batgirl. When Alysia came out as trans to Barbara the message Simone delivered was one of acceptance, love, and welcoming. It was the creation of a family of choice that mirrors relationships so vital to countless LGBT people who may be social and familial outcasts. Barbara never subjected Alysia to ignorant questions or bigoted attitudes. They were comfortable together, going clothes shopping and Alysia loaning Barbara clothes and helping her get ready for a date. Simone also made the character matter of factly bisexual and when Barbara reacts embarrassed after accidentally walking in on Alysia and Jo in an intimate moment it’s because she invaded their privacy and not because Barbara is repulsed. Simone has stopped writing Batgirl and Alysia has remained in the book though for now she appears to be as minor supporting cast.
Alysia returns in #42 and writers Cameron Stewart and Brendan Fletcher move the character forward with a surprise announcement closing the issue. Barbara (Gordon) wakes up early after an adventure and is surprised to find an elated Alysia waiting for her. It’s likely been at least a month since they stopped being roommates and Alysia has been seen very little since Simone left, so Barbara is happy to see Alysia too. Alysia starts talking excitedly, describing a beautiful date the night before with girlfriend Jo (first seen in #31 I believe), who she blurts out asked to marry Alysia and in the next breath tells Barbara she’s her maid of honor!
As the wedding date approaches, Jo and the activist group to which she belongs gets mixed up in illegal exotic animal trafficking. Jo decides to act on a tip on her own, sending only a text to alert and apologize to Alysia. This being Gotham, her solo breakin at a warehouse goes awry and she is captured by the mastermind behind the operation, a villain known as Velvet Tiger. Alysia contacts Barbara, who gets involved as Batgirl and is able to track down Jo. Alysia is staked out near the building, beside herself with concern and trying to devise a rescue plan on her own when, to her relief, Batgirl surprises her. Unwilling to stay in her car while Batgirl enters the warehouse, Alysia pulls off dramatically rescuing Jo while Batgirl engages Velvet Tiger and a pair of tigers under her control. And yes, the Velvet Tiger is apprehended too.
Alysia and Jo’s wedding occurs in Batgirl #45. The creative team of Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, and Babs Tarr make it a very beautiful and from the perspective of comics wedding tradition, a ceremony uninterrupted by villains or disaster. Maid of honor Barbara is ready with her “wedding day survival kit” to take care of any minor problems and Dinah (Black Canary) and her band are tapped to play the reception. The two women joyfully kiss after a minister pronounces them “spouses for life”.
Updates will be made as they happen.
Alysia first appears in Batgirl (Vol. 4) #1 and comes out as transgender in #19. This profile is based on info and appearance from issues #1, 2, 4, 8, 10, 11, 14, 19, 21, 23, 24, 31, 32, annual #2, #42 – 45
Created by Gail Simone. All rights reserved DC Comics.