'Supergirl' set to introduce TV's first-ever transgender superhero
The superhero genre is pretty prolific as of 2018. Movies in Marvel's cinematic universe, like this year's Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War, have been breaking box office records, and it seems that every other comic book character is making their way onto the big screen, with San Diego Comic Con debuting trailers for the upcoming DC films Shazam and Aquaman.
It's not just the movies that are successfully bringing comic superheroes to life, however. DC in particular have seen plenty of success with their interconnected shows Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl.
Supergirl stars Melissa Benoist as Kara, Superman's cousin and one of the last survivors of their doomed planet, Krypton. The show made an appearance at Comic Con this week to talk about the show's upcoming fourth season, where they announced the introduction of a new character.
Nia Nal will be introduced as an employee of Catco Worldwide Media, an organisation that is central to the show, but she will later become known as 'Dreamer'.
But that's not the noteworthy part of the story. What many have latched onto as this announcement dropped, is that Nal will be a trans character - to be played by trans activist and actor Nicole Maines. "It seems only fitting that we have a trans superhero for trans kids to look up to," she said after the announcement.
The character, who is drescribed as "a soulful young transgender woman with a fierce drive to protect others," will be the first-ever trans superhero in a TV show - and it's not as if there's any representation of the community on the big screen either.
Speaking to Variety, Maines said:
"I want fans to take away an understanding of trans people. We can be anybody, we can be who we want, we can be superheroes - because in many ways we are.
"Nia is so much more than just a trans superhero. She is a reporter, she is hopeful, she's powerful, wise and such a good friend."
Asked about how this role relates to representation of trans people in television, Maines opened up about what she hopes to see in the future.
“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.”
Back in 2014, Maines and her family went to court after her school stopped her from using the girls' toilet. Due to this case, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the school had violated the state's human rights act. Since then she has gone on to work as an actress, winning GLAAD award for her performance on the show Royal Pains and featured in the HBO documentary, 'The Trans List'.
“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.”
Supergirl returns Oct. 14 on the CW, where the new character will debut.