Orono native Nicole Maines made history with her family in 2014, when they won a lawsuit against the Orono school district, winning the right for transgender students in the state of Maine to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.
Maines will make history again this week, when she debuts as TV’s first transgender superhero on The CW’s series “Supergirl.”
Maines, now 21, will have a featured role in season four of “Supergirl,” starring as Nia Nal, a precocious, passionate new reporter who joins Kara Danvers — aka Supergirl — at CatCo, the media group where they work. Kara takes Nia under her wing, with Nia destined to eventually become the precognitive superhero Dreamer. The new season premieres Sunday, Oct. 14 on The CW; check your local listings for channel numbers.
In an interview in August with website The Mary Sue, Maines described how meaningful it is for her to play a transgender superhero.
“First and foremost, had I had a trans superhero growing up, that would have changed the game,” Maines said, “and so now, getting to be the trans superhero for a generation of kids is so special to me. … I just hope that everyone watching this show is going to get to love Nia as much as I do because she is so cool. She’s sweet. She’s caring. She’s got this fierce drive to her and this intensity, and she’s so amazing, and I just really hope that I’m doing her justice.”
Maines was at the center of a protracted court battle that began in 2007, when Asa Adams Elementary School told Maines that she could no longer use the girl’s bathroom at the school, after the grandfather of a male student complained.
Seven years later, in 2014, Maines and her family won the lawsuit, with the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruling that transgender students have the right to use the school bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. It was the first time any court in the nation ruled it unlawful to force a transgender child to use the school bathroom designated for the sex he or she was born with, rather than the one with which the child identifies.
Maines moved to Portland in 2013 and graduated from high school there in 2015. She enrolled at the University of Maine in Orono that fall to study studio art but left school after the Spring 2018 semester to focus on her acting. She has relocated to Vancouver, British Columbia, where “Supergirl” is filmed.
“Supergirl” is not her first TV appearance — in 2015 Maine was featured on the USA Network show “Royal Pains,” playing a transgender teen. In 2016, she was featured in the HBO documentary “The Trans List.” She is also set to appear in the 2019 horror-comedy feature film “Bit.”