Supergirl has cast a transgender actress to play a superhero.
The CW series, which stars Melissa Benoist, has had multiple fan-acclaimed LGBT plot arcs over the years.
But the show will be taking another big step in its upcoming fourth season – by adding a transgender superhero to the cast.
The news was announced at Comic-Con San Diego,
Nicole Maines, who previously appeared in HBO documentary The Trans List, will play the character of Nia Nal – AKA the superhero Dreamer.
Nia will join CatCo, a media empire established by Cat Grant – who is now press secretary to President Olivia Marsdin – where Kara works as a reporter.
A casting call explained: “Once a political speechwriter, Nia is the newest addition to the CatCo investigative reporting team.
“With her, she brings sparkling wit and biting humour, but under that banter-y, chic façade lays a soulful young woman who has much to offer the world. A young ‘Cat Grant’ type.”
Speaking to Variety, Maines said: “It feels fitting to say with great power, comes great responsibility. I’m nervous because I want to do it right.”
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Maines praised the show for putting a trans actor in a role far apart from the kind that transgender stars usually get cast in.
She told Variety: “We can be whoever we want, we can do whatever we want, we can be superheroes, because in many ways we are.
“We’ve had trans representation in television for a while but it hasn’t been the right representation.”
Noting that female transgender roles were too often taken by male cisgender actors, she said: “They’re men in dresses and that was damaging for a long time.
“I think we’re in a time right now where more than ever representation in the media matters. And what we see on television has a very dramatic effect on our society.”
She added: “I think that cis gender actors don’t take roles out of malice, it’s just a failure to realize the context of having cis gender people play trans gender characters.
“We don’t see the same issue with sexuality, we see straight people play gay all the time. With trans folks we have a lot of people accusing us of just playing dress up for whatever reasons and that’s just not true.
“Having trans people play trans roles show that we are valid in our identities and we exist.”
Benoist added “It’s always the perfect time to tell people’s stories that aren’t always told, and be inclusive, and show compassion and understanding and give a voice to the transgender community. They should absolutely have a superhero and it’s about time.”