The CW’s Supergirl will be introducing television’s first transgender superhero in its upcoming fourth season.
Transgender activist Nicole Maines will be joining the cast as Nia Nal, also known as Dreamer, who becomes a reporter with Kara Danvers (aka Supergirl) at CatCo Worldwide Media.
Maines describes her character as someone who “has this ferocious drive to protect people and to fight against discrimination and hatred.” Her casting was announced during a panel at San Diego Comic-Con last week.
“I’ve been doing a lot of auditions lately because a lot of different shows have been really eager to tell the story of transgender people,” Maines said. “It seems only fitting that we have a trans superhero for trans kids to look up to. I wish there was a trans superhero when I was little.”
Maines gained notoriety in 2014 after successfully suing her Maine school district for not allowing her to use the women’s restroom in fifth grade. This led her to her being the subject of the book Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family and later appearing in the HBO documentary The Trans List.
The announcement of Maines’ casting comes a week after a heated debate about trans actors in Hollywood was sparked following cisgender Scarlett Johansson being cast as a transgender man in upcoming film Rub & Tug. She ended up leaving the project after the backlash, stating that she understood “why many feel he should be portrayed by a transgender person.”
In a Variety interview, Maines said that while trans people have had representation on television, “it hasn’t been the right kind of representation.”
“When I was first coming out to my parents, late 90’s, early 2000’s, we had trans people on television portrayed by cis men…contributed to that idea that we’re just men in dresses,” she said. “Now, it’s very hopeful and relieving to watch creators and writers and directors and casting offices stepping up to put trans people in trans roles, so we can portray ourselves and we can start to disprove some of those stereotypes about us.”
She added: “I’m beyond thrilled to be able to do that in a supersuit!”
The CW is not only premiering its first television show with a transgender superhero, but is also developing a Batwoman TV series that will have an openly lesbian main character. It’s currently slated to debut in 2019.