Nicole Maines plays first transgender superhero on TV in fourth season of Supergirl

Nicole Maines walks onstage at the Supergirl Special Video Presentation and Q&A during Comic-Con International 2018 at San Diego Convention Center on July 21, 2018.
Nicole Maines walks onstage at the Supergirl Special Video Presentation and Q&A during Comic-Con International 2018 at San Diego Convention Center on July 21, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

The Supergirl series will soon feature the first transgender superhero on TV in its upcoming fourth season, show producers announced on Saturday (July 21) at San Diego Comic-Con.

Actress and activist Nicole Maines has been cast as Nia Nal, a new member of the CatCo investigative reporting team.

The character will later become the superhero Dreamer, and is partly based on the DC Comics character Nura Nal, also known as Dream Girl, who has the power to see the future.

A public casting call put out in May 2018 described the character as a trans woman in her early 20s, a former political speechwriter, and a "confident, wunderkind of a fashionista".

Maines, who is also a trans woman, has previously appeared in the TV series Royal Pains in 2015, and as herself in the documentary movie The Trans List in 2016.

Her casting comes hot on the heels of a furore over the casting of actress Scarlett Johansson as a transgender man in the film Rub And Tug. Critics said that the role should be played by a trans person and Johansson has since withdrawn from the project.

Variety magazine reported that Maines hopes to be an example of the "right representation" of transgender people in TV through her role in Supergirl.

She told Variety: "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."

Maines made headlines in 2014 when she won a landmark case against her school district which had made her use the staff bathrooms instead of the student bathrooms. A Maine Supreme Court ruled that her rights had been violated under the state's Human Rights Act and awarded her a US$75,000 (S$102,134) settlement.

The announcement of Maines' casting comes just days after American television network The CW, which also airs Supergirl, announced that they were developing a series based on Batwoman, a lesbian character.

Also known as Kate Kane, Batwoman was the first openly gay superhero to appear in the pages of DC comics.

The fourth season of Supergirl will begin airing on Oct 14. The first two seasons are currently available in Singapore on Netflix. The first three seasons are also available on Hooq.