Brow Beat

Supergirl Casts Activist Nicole Maines as TV’s First Transgender Superhero

Activist Nicole Maines, smiling and waving at fans.
Nicole Maines at a Supergirl Q&A during Comic-Con International 2018.
Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Supergirl is headed toward its fourth season with some big news: According to the Hollywood Reporter, activist Nicole Maines will be joining the cast to play TV’s first transgender superhero. Maines will have a recurring role as Nia Nal, a transgender woman who will become the superhero Dreamer over the course of the season. There’s no Scarlett Johansson–style casting controversy on the way: Not only is Maines transgender herself, she was the plaintiff in a landmark antidiscrimination case that found that denying transgender students access to the bathroom of their choice violated the state of Maine’s Human Rights Act.

Maines’ character was created for Supergirl and is distinct from the similarly named Nura Nal (superhero name Dream Girl) in DC Comics, although Nia is reportedly a distant ancestor of Nura, who doesn’t arrive in the DC continuity until the 30th century. The actress has previously appeared on USA’s Royal Pains. In an interview with Variety shortly after her casting was announced, Maines said she was nervous about portraying the first trans superhero—nervous enough to quote the “with great power comes great responsibility” line from a certain rival superhero universe—but also expressed her hope that by representing her community on screen, she could send a message to other trans people:

We can be whoever we want, we can do whatever we want, we can be superheroes, because in many ways we are.

Supergirl’s new season begins Oct. 14.