In and out of the national eye for more than five years as she battled for the right to use the girl's bathrooms at her public school in her Orono, Maine, trans teen Nicole Maines is back in the spotlight -- but this time, she's living out her acting dreams.
Maines, a 17-year-old high school senior, will make her small-screen debut in a June 23 epsiode of USA's medical dramedy Royal Pains, playing young transgender choreographer Anna. She joins a growing list of trans actors being cast in trans roles this year, from Laverne Cox to Scott Turner Schofield to Trace Lysette.
The cable network partnered with PFLAG to raise awareness about transition-related healthcare and rally support in conjunction with Maines's appearance, according to a statement from USA. Maines's character illustrates the need for such care as she discovers that her health may be endangered by the way she's undergoing hormone therapy. A public service announcement from PFLAG about being a trans ally will run on social media when the episode airs.
Maines said the entire experience has been a positive one for her. "The amount of warmth and encouragement that I received from the cast and crew was so unexpected, but welcome," she shared. "Everyone's words were so supportive and kind and they really made me feel part of the cast immediately, and made my very first television acting experience a pleasure -- one I will remember forever."
In January of last year, Maines won her lawsuit against the Orono school district, determining that her human rights had been violated when she was required to use a single-stall staff restroom. In December, she was named a Glamour magazine "Woman of the Year," among 50 "hometown heroes."
Watch the PFLAG ally PSA below, featuring Royal Pains star Mark Feuerstein.