In the newest season of The CW series Supergirl, incognito heroine Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) gains a new friend and ally with the introduction of reporter-in-training, Nia Nal, who has her own secret identity, portrayed by transgender actress Nicole Maines (on left).
The show is making history by introducing television's first transgender superhero, Dreamer, Nia's heroic alter ego. Casting Maines adds true visibility and representation to the role. Before becoming an actress, Maines made headlines as a young trans activist by successfully suing her school district for discrimination after being denied access to the girl's restroom at her school.
In Supergirl, the show's writers have expertly woven Nia's identity as a trans woman into her origin story, and created a fully fleshed out, intelligent, ambitious, and occasionally awkward character.
Executive producer Jessica Queller explains that Nia's gender identity is connected to "why and how she's inherited these powers." And, as Kara had to do in the first season, Nia will have to figure out how to come to terms with and harness her power -- an experience not unlike the navigation transgender folks often face when transitioning.
"If I had had a trans superhero, someone who looks like me wearing a cape, [while] growing up, that would have changed the game," Maines told USA Today earlier this year, "That would have been an entire new level of validation in myself, to think that I can be a superhero!"
Supergirl returns with new episodes on January 20; watch Maines discuss her gender identity with Ellen DeGeneres below.