In Haunt

Shining Knight

By Jamie Ryder

Gothic and comic culture have a lot in common. Both can celebrate pop culture and welcome people from all walks of life. Supernatural Superheroes is a series at HAUNT Manchester by Jamie Ryder that highlights gothic comic characters and their importance within pop culture.

 In recent times, there has been an increase in the representation of LGBTQI+ superheroes and a character that stands out is The Shining Knight. As a transgender superhero, The Shining Knight not only challenges traditional medieval themes, but showcases how progressive comics can be as a medium. Read on to find out how the character is connected to Manchester and why he could be viewed as a transgender role model.

Going against chivalric tradition

Over the years, The Shining Knight has been reinvented. The original character, Sir Justin, was created by Creig Flessel and debuted in 1941. Sir Justin embraced all the traditional values of a courtly knight, serving King Arthur and helping Merlin. For his duty, Sir Justin was given magical golden armour that made him invulnerable in battle. He also used a mystical sword that could cut through any substance.

In 2005, the Shining Knight’s background was updated. A young woman named Ystin was knighted by Sir Galahad, though she passed herself off as a man because she was in love with Galahad and wanted to fight with him as an equal. Eventually, Ystin found herself transported to the modern day and she continued to campaign for justice.

Shining Knight comic strip

In 2011, Ystin’s story changed again. The character was presented as transgender, identifying as a man and having the physical body of a woman. The change happened in a comic called Demon Knights, with Ystin’s teammates being unsure of his gender. What started out as a running gag turned into a serious plot. The Shining Knight revealed his gender identity by saying “I’m the other too. I was born this way. I’ve kept saying whenever anyone asks. I’m not just a man or a woman. I’m both”.

The Shining Knight’s status as a trans superhero breaks conventional medieval archetypes. Traditionally, knights are portrayed as males who are devoted to honour and duty. Ystin carries all the positive traits. The Shining Knight is committed to protecting Camelot and riding into battle. He’s shown courage in the face of overwhelming odds and defended innocent people. It’s why I think the character could be viewed as a strong role model for transgender people.

Transgender Manchester

As a champion of the trans community, I believe the Shining Knight would feel at home in Manchester. The city is filled with all kinds of transgender support groups, initiatives and positive organisations. For example, TransForum Manchester is a discussion group that provides a supportive atmosphere and meets up every month. There’s also Manchester Concord which runs regular social meetings for trans people looking to make new friends. The group meets in the Via Fossa Bar on Canal Street.

Shining Knight Pic

Manchester also hosts Sparkle, a celebration of gender diversity, in July. The festival (The Sparkle Weekend) features music, dance and entertainment acts. Sparkle festival for 2019 will be taking place on Friday 12th July – Sunday 14th July.




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