Meet Chalice, A New Transgender Superhero

Although superhero comics are getting better at representing heroes of all creeds, there are still so very few transgender characters in comics, whether that's in supporting roles or as heroes themselves. AfterShock Comics wants to change that for the better with the introduction of Chalice. Revealed by the New York Times today, Chalice is the star of a new series called Alters from Paul Jenkins, Leila Leiz and Tamra Bonvillain (a transgender woman herself), with covers by Black Panther artist Brian Stelfreeze. Alters is set in a world where humanity is confronted with the emergence of a mutant section of the population, dubbed "Alterations", that develops superpowers.

Chalice, undergoing transition from male to female, discovers that she is an "Alter" with the power to manipulate gravity — leading to her double-double life, where she is not yet "out" as either transgender or a superpowered being, and can only present as female when in her superhero costume and fighting crime. The series will also feature other heroes, but Chalice will be its primary protagonist.

It's an intriguing idea — one writer Jenkins picked up on from a fan while brainstorming ideas for the comic — and a welcome move for a larger variety of LGBTQ representation in superhero comics (which often tend to stick to the Lesbian or Gay side of the spectrum, more so than bisexual or transgender lead characters). Alters is set to begin this September.


    This is really cool concept, I like it a lot

    I much prefer this then the other trend which is to take existing characters, and make them gay or women, because that somehow makes it politically correct or better

    This is I think is a lot better, giving her an Identity thats interesting and makes sense because you aren't worming into a defined framework.

    I gotta ask... Was transgender this commonly spoken about during the 80's, 90's, and early 2000's?

    I ask this because when I was a kid, I never knew what transgender was or how common it became, etc.

    These days it seems to be brought up every week, just as much as feminism is, and I can't tell if it's because transgender is popular among the nerd circles or if there's a massive boom of decisions to change genders.

      It's being talked about now because transgender people probably feel they can finally talk about it. People have not always been accommodating to transgender people; in fact the "Gay Panic Defense" law, where it was actually legal to assault or even kill someone if you felt they had made homosexual advances on you, has only recently been getting repealed. Some places still have it, such as Queensland.

      It's not... Still a massive minority of the population they're just the lefts favourite play thing right now for self congratulatory virtue signalling.

      Most people just play games and read comics and couldn't give a flying fuck about gender politics.

      Last edited 24/06/16 11:50 pm

        Are you some kind of Youtube comment generator bot?

        Why should one comic that has a trans protagonist (out the literal hundreds of thousands that came before that didn't) have to be part of some sort of leftist cultural conspiracy? Couldn't it just be that some people want to read a comic with lgbt characters in? I don't get why this should make you angry

      I don't remember it being as commonly spoken about either. I remember I had one transgender lecturer in university almost 20 years ago and that seemed kind of strange and we'd talk about it behind her back.

      Since then a few of my friends and acquaintances have transitioned, which made me reconsider how I thought about that lecturer. One of those friends moved interstate at the same time as transitioning to start effectively start a new life, so while it might be easier now it certainly isn't easy.

      I wouldn't be surprised if there were a similar number of people back in the 80's who would have thought about transitioning, but there do seem to be more people who feel comfortable actually following through now.

      It was very different back in the 90's. It wasn't very common for people, including would-be trangender people, to understand that this wasn't a sexual thing. It was like being gay in the 70's when it was so hard to find discussion on the topic that even a lot of gay people thought they were just perverts without understanding that it was deeper than sex.
      It wasn't until the LGB was pressured to include them and that the much more approachable 'trans' term was popularised* that they really got enough of the spotlight to for people to finally start realising that it was more than just an extreme cross dressing fetish. It also doesn't hurt that technology has improved in a way that means more transgender people out there interacting with people.

      The reason it's brought up so often now is because there are a lot of freshly enlightened people who see transgender people as the underdogs who need to be fought for. Their hearts are in the right place but they can be really damn preachy and a lot of them don't really put any real thought into what they're preaching.
      In a lot of ways people are just applying their stance on homosexuality which isn't quite right. Homosexuality needed to be accepted as normal, but this needs to be accepted as a range of abnormalities. It's something civil rights has always struggled with. The easiest path to acceptance is adjusting the definition of normal but in the process they reinforce the idea that abnormal is bad. They dumb it down and suddenly the woman who was born a man but doesn't actually want to alter her physical side is considered even more of a freak than before. 'That's not what trans is, you're either not trans or you're doing it wrong'.

      I find it a worrying because the simplification of the subject is quite dangerous. It's very easy for someone who is supportive without quite understanding what they're dealing with to give harmful advice. Two women can both feel masculine in similar ways, with one needing to be assured that she's still a woman and the other needing to be told that it's ok if she's not. The wrong advice there can have terrible consequences.
      This is deeply psychological stuff but because people see therapy and counselling as something for bad/crazy people and not normal people, their reflex is to dodge the subject and just accept that anybody who is confused magically knows themselves well enough that all they need is encouragement and blind acceptance.

      That's why stuff like these comics, games, news articles, etc are important. As long as they're not treated like gimmicks or a way to show everyone your cool new trans friend they offer a deeper perspective that we're desperately missing right now. As annoying as it is now as a trend there are good things happening.

      *To me the term always sounds like it's trying too hard to be hip and young, but there's a certain genius in removing the part that everyone muttered because they weren't sure which term was correct and which term highlighted their ignorance on the subject. Nobody gets scared off from trying to figure out transgender, transsexual or transvestite any more.

        Best response ever @dogman, this is one topic my partner and I have so many discussions on and your comment put so many of my thoughts together in a cohesive way that I probably couldn't.

    But, the story and premise is so unoriginal. Is this all we can give them?

      Yeah this is something those guys came up with in one afternoon.
      "hm how can we exploit a growing population? lets make a generic story and slap whatever it is they stand for on it as the main character"
      kinda sad :(

        "What?! A Gender bomb?! *BOOM* Grrrrargh!
        Ugh, I...survived, and gained....transgender powers!!"

        I suppose it would be kind of tough trying to balance the issue with the comic genre, underplay or misrepresent, overplay etc. Are you exploring before/after (both) the transition etc.
        I Imagine a lot of "wearing multiple mask" gear and the like.

        Personally, I would have gone for a character that doesn't focus on gender at all initially, dropping hints over time and letting the readers figure it out before bringing that side in to it.
        That way people focus on the core of the hero and unravel who they are as the story progresses.

        In this case no matter how you feel about the issue, both sides can see it is forced, which weakens it.

      Indeed, this is so derivative it hurts...

        Marvel did pretty much the same with their all new all different and "ms marvel" and the SJW's helped make it a hit, think of all the free publicity of having an israeli superhero! Like Ms Marvel isnt bad, but yeah, thats how it got famous for sure.

          Except Ms Marvel is genuinely interesting and fun to read.

            Except regardless of your feelings about the quality it got shitloads of extra advertising due to its equality issues.


                It's derivative for the sake of being dirivitive. But yeah you can say "so" again and my response would be it comes off corny and lackluster and as a way to appeal to a popular audience - not actual transgender people, but SJW's.

    Probably the fact that there are so very few transgender heroes in comics is something to do with the fact that transgender people are an absolutely tiny minority in real life that have only recently become a topic of interest to the main-stream.

    I'm totally okay with transgender superheroes, but the fact that out of the set of comic book characters I could name off the top of my head, none of them are transgender... that's consistent with reality. It would be totally unsurprising to have no transgender people in a population sample that size. Even if you look at the sample of 'all major recurring characters in all high-budget/major release comics' having no or single digits of people that are known to be transgender is not that improbable.

    In the context of current pop-culture discourses this feels more like a cheap attempt to cash in on a hot issue than I'd like. But maybe that's being unfair, and more representation isn't a bad thing even if it's forced considering how poorly understood and little-accepted transgender people still are.

    But of course having both the viewpoint that a lack of representation is not a problem in the slightest AND that having representation for the sake of representation is probably also okay is just going to be incendiary to all of the people on both 'sides' who won't view these things as having any kind of actual complexity...

    It good seeing issues like this brought up and actually having positive transgender role models, until recently transgender people in media were used in very specific ways.. 1. comic relief (lets laugh at the freak) or 2. this person dating our friend is transgender and we need to warn our friend about the freak

    to be honest up until recently the only portrayal of someone transgender who had a normal life and a normal job was twin peaks of all things.

    it may seem like this issue is being brought up constantly but frankly its never been brought up in a positive way until now

    why is she a male to female trans and not a female to male trans. it seems to me that female to male transgenderd people get left out

      It's true, studies have shown that men who transition to women endure more harassment and discrimination (especially from men-- who saw that coming?) than women who transition. I'm not exactly sure on the severity or other deets, but it can all be found via a simple search/on google scholar for those who're curious.

    and i just used to read comics for a good story.
    i dont give a toss what the characters sexuality is..why even bring it up?
    stupid political agendas.

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