Gender: Transgender Woman
Character Type: Primary
Summary: A transgender character in the comic Legion of Superheroes, Shvaughn Erin uses a chemical -- Profem-- to give her a female body. However, when the Profem runs out, Shvaughn transitions back into the body of a man and continues to date her boyfriend, Elemental Lad. When DC rebooted its original continuity, Shvaughn Erin was no longer identified as transgender and no longer romantically linked to Element Lad. Many critics have argued that this subplot repeats familiar tropes about transgender women, but some elements of Erin's character have resonated with trans readers. It would be nice to see someone revisit this character in a way that is more authentic to contemporary trans experiences. As Charlotte Finn writes, "If DC ever wants to revamp the series, it could do a lot worse than cast its eyes back to the more queer-friendly stories of yesteryear, and make sure that all the letters in LGBTQ are well represented."
Database Links: DC Wiki, Comic Vine
But what's just as isolating as being gay or bisexual is being transgender, and seeing a character like Shvaughn/Sean --- yet another character who's not quite transgender, but is just enough like a transgender person to maybe give people the wrong impression about what being transgender is all about --- can be as isolating to one letter in the LGBTQ coalition as it can be elevating to the others. (Read more)
Charlotte Finn, "Lost in transition: LSH and the uneven footsteps of progress," Comics Alliance, November 24, 2015.
There are several questionable tropes that are present in this depiction. The most obvious is the idea that an individual would change large parts of themselves — even their gender — in order to seduce a cisgender male. Moreover, the depiction of Sean as a gay man in disguise furthers the idea that transgender women are just gay men who are feminized, rather than being women themselves. Lastly, this depiction plays on the trope of the deceitful transgender woman, a common transphobic trope in which someone who passes as a cisgender women is revealed to be transgender as a plot twist. (Read more)
Ryan Persaud, "Transgender representation in comics," Medium, May 25, 2018.
Shvaughn has a really cisnormative and unclear story in some really weird ways, and it doesn’t help that she gets a very futuristic superfem drug to stay female-presenting, that, when she gets off, makes her instantly detransition in like 3 pages – haven’t they heard of HRT in the 31st Century?!?!?!?! More importantly, hadn’t they heard of HRT in 1992?!?!?! ... The twist of the norm in Shvaughn, which I kind of like a lot, is the fact that their lover doesn’t care at lot about their gender, being very positive (in fact maybe too much) about them not taking the drug, which gives, in the middle of this messy story, a good outcome of someone loving a gender-variant person in despite of their presentation (or a Mulan-ish bisexual storyline, you choose!). (Read more)
Duna Heller, "Comic watch pride: An exploration of transness in popular comics part 2: DC's dreamers," Comic Watch, June 29, 2020.