Supergirl’s transgender superhero says roles like hers show ‘we deserve to exist’
Nicole Maines, who will play TV’s first transgender superhero on Supergirl, has said that trans actors getting trans roles “shows that we are valid in our identity and we deserve to exist as we do.”
The actress, who previously appeared in HBO documentary The Trans List, will play the character of Nia Nal – AKA the superhero Dreamer.
The CW show has had many fan-acclaimed LGBT plot arcs over the years, but will be breaking new ground in its fourth season.
The decision to give the part to a trans actress was also significant after the controversy which erupted after Scarlett Johansson accepted the role of real-life trans man Dante ‘Tex’ Gill in Rub & Tug.
Johansson quit the film following the backlash, saying she had “learned a lot from the community since making my first statement about my casting and realise it was insensitive.”
And Maines, an activist who has fought for trans equality in her home state of Maine, opened up about how important it was that a trans actress had been handed the role of Nia.
Speaking to Variety, she explained: “Cisgender actors don’t take trans roles out of malice.
“I think it’s just failure to realise the context behind having cisgender people play transgender characters because we don’t see the same issue with sexuality.”
The 20-year-old, who has also starred in indie horror film Bit, said that the damaging anti-trans stereotypes that still loom large in popular culture make it even more important that trans people are given trans roles.
“We have straight people playing gay people all the time and that’s because there isn’t a larger conversation around — there’s not so much harmful rhetoric flying around that they are parading around, dressing up, pretending,” said Maines.
“And so you have to think about context with that. And with trans folks, we have a lot of people accusing us of just playing dress up for whatever reason, and that’s not true.
“And so having trans people play trans roles shows that we are valid in our identity and we deserve to exist as we do,” she continued.
“And so when we have cisgender actors play trans characters, it furthers that stereotype that we are playing dress up, which is not true.”
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 for the part explained: “Once a political speechwriter, Nia is the newest addition to the CatCo investigative reporting team.
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“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.”
We also learned last week that DC is set to release Birds of Prey, its first film to feature a lesbian superhero in the shape of Renee Montoya, a openly gay Gotham City detective.
Steven Universe‘s superhero Ruby proposed to fellow female gem Sapphire earlier this month.
And the Voltron: Legendary Defender panel at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend revealed that Takashi ‘Shiro’ Shirogane – one of the superhero paladins who come together to make the gigantic, evil-fighting Voltron – is gay and has an ex-boyfriend.