The Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic book has been the news recently with the announcement that they’ll be introducing a new slayer – a male slayer. For those who never watched/read Buffy, it’s been a part of the fiction up until now that slayers are always female. (It’s a female power thing, y’see.)
The new male slayer is gay, and a lot of critics are heralding this as a good step forward for the Buffy fiction. For example, Comic Book Resources writes:
The introduction of Billy as a gay male Slayer also goes a long way towards neutralizing the strict gender roles our culture carved out and then used to trap and dehumanize those who don’t fit into them.
Personally, I’m not so sure. I worry that adding a gay male slayer to a group that’s otherwise exclusively female doesn’t really move toward undermining gender norms. Instead, it seems to reinforce the stereotype that gay men are. . .kind of like women. Which is a really problematic stereotype.
I agree that it’s great to have characters that stretch our notions of the gender binary. But why not, if that’s the aim, have a slayer character who’s trans? In a fiction where being a slayer is the embodiment of female power, it looks weird to say that gay men can be slayers too. It looks like you’re saying that gay men have some element of femaleness that straight men don’t have. But it would be great to say that trans women can be slayers.
In Grant Morrison’s comic The Invisibles, one of the main characters is a trans woman. She has powers which are, according to the fiction, uniquely had by women. That looks like a good way to challenge gender norms and the gender binary, without subtly suggesting that gay men are sort of like women.