'Great responsibility'

‘Supergirl’ set to introduce landmark TV character with transgender superhero

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 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

Transgender activist and actor Nicole Maines will play Nia Nal, aka Dreamer, in the fourth season of CW’s Supergirl beginning this OctoberDreamer is transgender, making her the very first trans superhero to be featured in a TV show. The news was announced at Comic-Con over the weekend in San Diego. The 20-year-old acknowledged relief that her casting on the show has now been made public in a post on Twitter.

In addition to her work in front of the camera, Maines is also an activist. She drew attention in 2013, according to ABC News, when she was thrust into the role after being denied use of the girl’s restroom at her high school in Maine. The following year, the state supreme court ruled, in a pivotal decision, that the school had violated her rights.

As for her new role on Supergirl, Maines seemed humbled by the chance to be at the center of another pivotal moment for the transgender community. “It feels fitting to say, ‘With great power, comes great responsibility,’” Maines said, dusting off a famous quote from Spider-Man. “I’m nervous because I want to do it right.”

She also weighed in on the controversy surrounding Scarlett Johansson being cast to play a transgender man in an upcoming film — a decision that prompted a sharp backlash and resulted in Johansson dropping out of the film.

In an on-camera interview with Variety, Maines said, “Cisgender actors don’t take trans roles out of malice. I think it’s just failure to realize the context behind having cisgender people play transgender characters because we don’t see the same issue with sexuality.”

She added, “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.”

Maines concluded that societal attitudes toward transgender people are an underlying factor in why there was a backlash to Johansson being cast to play a transgender man. “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. And so when we have cisgender actors play trans characters, it further that stereotype that we are playing dress up, which is not true.”

Watch her remarks below.

Read the full story at Variety.

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