Gwen Stacy Has Become a Trans Icon

in Entertainment, Marvel

Gwen stacy in across the spider-verse trans flag colors in hair, in background

Credit: Sony Pictures

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse came out over the weekend, and to the surprise of no one, it’s already breaking records and generating big Oscar buzz. However, the film is also generating another kind of buzz – buzz surrounding Gwen Stacy, and a few hints that the film seems to be dropping about her gender.

People who have seen the film have been quick to point out online that there are several easter eggs pointing to the idea that Gwen might be transgender. There was little to no evidence of this in the first movie, Into the Spider-Verse, but the overtones have been so strong in this sequel that they have been hard for most people to ignore. Twitter user @blankzilla said:

I truly thought the “Gwen is trans” stuff in ATSV was just Twitter doing its usual thing but no it’s AGGRESSIVELY loud about it Being draped in the trans colors while giving a speech about having to hide half of yourself from the people you love is as subtle as a brick

There’s ordinarily a lot of room for pushback on these things, but in this case, the art team was rather explicit.

(WARNING: The body of this article contains minor spoilers for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse)

Is Gwen Stacy Trans? All the Evidence We Have

gwen stacy hailee steinfeld across the spider-verse
Credit: Sony Pictures

Related: Disney Princesses Could Be Played by Trans Women

There were a few bits of evidence people latched onto when they were watching Across the Spider-Verse were mainly visual. First of all, there was here color scheme: In nearly all of her big shots, Gwen is surrounded by shades of pink, blue, and white – the colors of the trans flag.

In addition, there is a shot of her room in which you can see a clear image of the trans pride flag hanging above her door, with the phrase “PROTECT TRANS KIDS” written on it.

This is very specific – it’s unlikely that a teenager would have this in her room unless she or someone she were very close to were a trans kid themselves. (Or, admittedly, in charge of protecting a whole city, which there is a case for. Still, the placement seems pointed.)

Gwen Stacy in Across the Spider-Verse sitting in her room. Behind her above the door there is a trans pride flag that says protect trans kids
Credit: Sony Pictures

Related: Disney LGBTQ+ Supporters Show the Power of Positive Action in Florida

Some who have watched the film have also said they spied a trans pride pin on her jacket.

Lastly, there is the detail that her father’s police uniform, in one scene, appears to have the trans pride flag sewn above the badge, where the medals and honors would normally be.

Others pointed out that this may simply be the artists’ simplified version of the medals and honors; since the animation is so stylized, most animators wouldn’t bother to draw each one.

Across the Spider-Verse: Gwen Stacy's father with his police uniform sitting behind him. A trans flag appears to be where the medals and honors usually go
Credit: Sony Pictures

Related: Disney Releases Rainbow & Trans Flag Treats for Pride Month

Even still, the color selection seems specifically pink, blue, and white, and the shades don’t really come close to the typical golds, blacks, and reds you might see. Additionally, there’s nothing breaking them up – it’s one large rectangle, which is not usually the case with those sorts of decorations.

If that is the case, and it really is the flag, it all but confirms it – there are few other reasons that a cop would put that uniform aside from in support of a child, and coupled with the other evidence, it’s hard not to jump to Gwen.

There is still room for doubt, of course – but even if it is never confirmed or denied that Gwen Stacy is trans, the show of support is still touching, because it shows that the filmmakers saw the similarities between Gwen’s story and the stories of so many trans kids.

Gwen’s Story in ‘Across the Spider-Verse’ is a Trans Allegory

Gwen Stacy across the spider-verse sad hoodie hailee steinfeld
Credit: Sony Pictures

Related: Hailee Steinfeld Promises a Lot More Gwen Stacy in ‘Across the Spider-Verse’

Whether she’s canonically trans or not, Gwen Stacy’s story is a very clear allegory for the transgender teenage experience, especially for those who came out to family members who weren’t immediately accepting of them.

Everything Gwen went through would likely sound very familiar to not only any transgender teenager, but also anyone who is or was close with one. In one thread on the r/Trans subreddit, u/Illadin_the_assassin said:

Her gender wasn’t addressed at all, but he arc was “coming out” to her dad as a superhero, being rejected, moving away with a bunch of other superheroes, and then confronting her dad (who’s a cop BTW) who finally accepts her and quits. That sounds pretty queer for me. Also the way she and Miles talk about whatever he should “come out” to his parents really reminded me of real conversations

Gwen Stacy’s journey of rejection, loss, and found family is one that many trans kids are forced to live out when their parents reject them for being who they are. Since it is often stressed in the Spider-Man comics and movies that simply being a Spider-person can incite angry, fearful, and even violent reactions.

There are adults all over acting as if it’s a political choice to be a Spider-kid, even though to these teenagers, they are simply being who they are.

Gwen Stacy across the spider-verse hailee steinfeld with miles morales shameik moore romantic
Credit: Sony Pictures

Related: Hailee Steinfeld Was Forced To Record ‘Spider-Verse’ Lines in a Closet

With everything going on in the US and across the world when it comes to trying to limit or outlaw trans people simply form existing in their communities, this was a very brave and kind thing for the Spider-Verse team to do. There are usually big fights behind the scenes to get studios to allow the inclusion of anything controversial, especially if it doesn’t directly affect the story at hand.

Small tributes and nods get lost this way all the time, and it might not seem that important to those who aren’t affected by it. However, for some children this is some of the only hope they have to hold onto that they will one day be accepted for who they are – and for others, it is still a powerful reminder that no matter how scary things become, there are people on their side.

For that reason, we must once again applaud the Spider-Verse team for their dedication to inclusivity, and telling diverse stories with the depth and grace they are owed. Pride isn’t as happy as usual this year, but it’s a little bit happier now.

You can see Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse in theaters now.

Do you think all of this evidence points more to a character detail, or an allegory? Chime in in the comments down below.

View Comments (6)