Nicole Maines Is TV’s First Transgender Superhero on ‘Supergirl’
Before Nicole Maines was an actress, she first rose to prominence as a plaintiff in the 2014 Maine Supreme Court case Doe v. Clenchy over transgender bathroom rights.
There’s a new superhero in town. Nicole Maines is making television history as the first transgender superhero on TV. The actress appeared as Nia Nal (a.k.a Dreamer) on the season premiere of Supergirl on CW, Sunday October 14th.
In an interview with the New York Times before Supergirl’s premiere, Maines discussed what her historic casting meant for trans representation.
She told the Times that it’s “a phenomenal time to be a queer nerd,” referring to other high-profile castings such as Ruby Rose being chosen to play a lesbian reimagining of Catwoman, also on the CW.
The 21-year old Nicole Maines also opened up about the importance of kids seeing themselves onscreen, with this new inclusion.
“I think kids need to watch Supergirl for Nia, because there are more and more trans people coming out younger and younger,” she said. “I think it is necessary to educate folks on trans issues and to make them aware of trans identities and normalize it, because it is normal. When you’re shielded from something and it’s actively censored, it takes a negative connotation. If people are more educated and they’re more aware of these issues and more familiar, they won’t feel so foreign.”
Maines described her character as an “intelligent, ambitious, if sometimes awkward, reporter who also has a super power”.
She also went on to stress the importance of trans actors being able to play trans characters onscreen, instead of being portrayed by non-trans actors.
“When we have a trans woman playing a trans woman then you see, ‘Oh wait, this is what trans really is. This is what it looks like: a person.’ It sends a message to cisgender people that trans people are not dangerous or sexually deviant or any of these myths that have kind of been construed by conservative outlets. It’s just an identity that people live,” she said.
Producers of Supergirl were committed to adding a trans hero to the DC Comics TV universe headed by megaproducer Greg Berlanti (“Arrow,” “The Flash”).
In casting Nia, “we were looking for somebody who embodied the innocence, strength and intelligence of a young Kara, which was Nicole, who also happened to be a real-life superhero in our eyes,” Rovner said, referring to Maines’ activism.
Nicole Maines, Transgender Rights Leader
Before she was an actress, Maines first rose to prominence as a plaintiff in the 2014 Maine Supreme Court case Doe v. Clenchy over transgender bathroom rights.
The case eventually gave people the right to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify, a big advance for transgender rights.
Her struggles with growing up transgender have also been written about in the 2015 book, “Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family,” by Amy Ellis Nutt.
Maines previously attended the University of Maine and became an accomplished public speaker—giving an impressive TED Talk while just a teen and speaking at schools about her family’s experience with her gender identity.
Supergirl airs Sunday Nights on the CW, 8 p.m. Eastern time.