This past Saturday (July 21), the team behind the CW’s Supergirl announced at San Diego Comic-Con that a new character would be joining the cast. As reported by BBC News, the character of Dreamer (whose real name is Nia Nal) will join the show’s fourth season later this fall, as one of CatCo Worldwide Media’s many employees. The big news, however, is that she will be played by transgender actress (and activist) Nicole Maines.
The character of Nia Nal / Dreamer is described as “a soulful young transgender woman with a fierce drive to protect others”. In the comics, Dreamer is a member of the Legion of Super Heroes in the 30th century. She is precognitive (she sees things before they happen) while she is asleep, and is also a brilliant scientist and physical combatant. At the show’s SDCC panel, Maines said of her character, “She has this ferocious drive to protect people and to fight against discrimination and hatred.” The 20 year-old actress also noted that the moment felt like a turning point, as creators are now seeking out trans actors & actresses to portray trans characters.
Nicole Maines (also known for her role in HBO’s The Trans List, rose to notoriety when she won a discrimination lawsuit against her school district in 2014. She and her family had brought the lawsuit against the school after Maines had been barred from using the girls’ restroom, and the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled in favor of Nicole and her family. The court’s ruling stated that the school district’s decision to bar Maines from using the restroom corresponding to her gender identity was a violation of the Maine Human Rights Act.
Through her activism, Nicole Maines has stressed the importance of transgender representation in the media. In a recent interview with Variety, Maines noted that “having trans people play trans roles shows that we are valid in our identities, and we exist”. She also made a bit of a nod to comic fandom in saying that “It feels fitting to say that with great power, comes great responsibility. I’m nervous because I want to do it right.” While speaking at the SDCC panel, Maines also told the audience, “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. 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’ casting in the show also marks the first time there has ever been a transgender superhero on television.