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tv Here’s What You Need To Know About Gen V’s Bigender Superhero

The Boys spin-off show explores trans identities through its shapeshifting supe

Prime Video

Whenever I’m asked the age-old icebreaker question “If you could have any super power what would it be?”, my answer has consistently been the ability to shapeshift. Yeah, if my wish were granted, it would be cool to transform into a bird, what truly appeals to me is the ability to change my form to bring my genderfluid self affirmation in abundance. So you can imagine my delight when I tuned into The Boys spin-off show and saw a shapeshifting bigender superhero, Jordan Li, within the main cast.

Like The Boys, Gen V is not for squeamish audiences. It’s gory, graphic, and constantly catches viewers off guard. And while queerness was explored in the original series, this spin-off is already more queer than its predecessor.

Before we dive into the representation this series has provided so far, let’s do a quick definition of what bigender means for those who may not have heard of the label before. The basic definition is someone who connects with two distinct gender identities. However, like with other labels, no one group of people is a monolith and people’s labels will mean different things to them as an individual.

Now, before pressing play on Gen V, I was already crossing my fingers for some LGBTQIA representation. After all, The Boys had given us bisexual superhero Queen Maeve who subverted the “Kill Your Gays” trope. And so far, this spin-off has certainly delivered.

Gen V follows the lives of college students who have superpowers. And the first episode saw two sapphic students kissing in the corridor. We also meet Emma, a student who has the ability to get really small when she purges and big again when she eats. Don’t worry, the show is very aware of the parallels between her abilities and eating disorders and this is highlighted by those around her. And while it’s yet to be confirmed, I’m convinced Emma is bi or pan. She gives off major queer vibes and is openly enthusiastic about wanting a threesome with the campus’ most popular m/f couple.

And that brings us to Jordan. They have the ability to shift between male- and female-presenting versions of themself. Most of their peers use they/them pronouns for Jordan, though some use she/her or he/him, depending on how they are presenting. So far, they haven’t corrected anyone on their pronouns, however, in one scene they were clearly uncomfortable when their parents exclusively used he/him pronouns, even when they were in their femme-presenting form.

While shapeshifting to explore trans metaphors and experiences has been done before, this is my first time witnessing such a character who overtly uses a label, with Jordan identifying as bigender.

The Boys has always used its supernatural genre to tackle social issues. And this spin-off has doubled down in how it does so. Our lead protagonist, and eyes into the world, Marie, is a young Black woman who’s abilities mean she can use her own blood as a weapon. The most popular guy in school is an attractive white man who is actually called Golden Boy, and is able to go up in flames and burn out at any moment. And his beautiful blonde-haired, blue-eyed girlfriend not only has pretty privilege, but her powers enable her to get anyone to do whatever she wants by just touching them. So yes, as you can tell, the show is intentionally heavy-handed with its use of metaphors when it comes to the abilities of its cast.

The way Jordan’s powers work is also thought provoking. Their different forms have different strengths, when they are femme, they can shoot energy blasts from their hands and they appear to be super agile. In comparison, their masc form is incredibly strong and invulnerable.

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What makes The Boys Universe so different from other superhero films and shows, is that, in this world, being a superhero is much more about marketing, popularity and capitalism than it is actually saving people. The challenges that Jordan comes up against as a bigender superhero are sure to resonate with many.

Jordan is an overachiever who, at the start of the series, is ranked number two in their class. They are a model student and extremely powerful. However, it’s soon made clear by the higher-ups that their gender and pronouns are not palatable for their audiences. While Jordan faces a lot of resistance from older generations, their peers don’t seem to be fussed by their gender or pronouns.

So far, my only qualm is that neither of the actors who play Jordan (London Thor, Derek Luh) are openly trans. And as I’ve avidly written time and time again, in my opinion, it’s important for trans characters to be cast authentically. However, I can personally understand that the genre may have added some complexities to this. It was however great to see a bigender Asian character, as I’ve never seen such a trans character onscreen. The series has certainly served up some powerful trans metaphors, but it is my belief that this could have been strengthened with authentic casting. Just look at the powerful trans storylines from Sex Education’s final season, the trans characters were written by and portrayed by trans people. And the end result was a powerful and honest depiction of trans lives.

It’s still too soon to say how trans-positive the representation in Gen V will be, as more episodes from the season are yet to be released. But for now, I’m impressed with the way the show has portrayed the struggles of living in a binary world when you don’t neatly fit into these societal expectations. I’ll be tuning in on Friday to see what happens to Jordan and the rest of the cast.

Episodes one – three of Gen V are available to stream on Prime Video now. Episodes four and five will be released on 6 and 13 October respectively.


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