“I feel like everybody’s kind of like, if I can be a superhero, I can kind of be everything.”
Transgender activist Nicole Maines this week spoke about her upcoming debut as TV’s first trans superhero.
Maines, who will maker her first appearance Sunday night as the character Dreamer on the CW’s “Supergirl,” told reporters this week that she is proud to serve as a role model for trans kids and their parents. She called the positive social-media response to her new role “heartwarming.”
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“It makes me really really happy to see that and to be able to go on social media and see how people are so validated and relieved and excited to have a superhero like them,” she said. “Just this morning I saw a trans man’s tweet about his kids and how excited his kids were to have a trans superhero, someone who looks like their dad. It’s really good, it makes me really happy. I have a hard time kind of finding the words for it because it’s just good.”
Dreamer, who goes by Nia as a civilian, is a superhero with prophetic dreams. This week’s episode, which airs at 8 p.m. eastern time on the channel geared toward young adults, will reportedly reveal the roots of the character’s powers and how she ended up first donning her super suit. Nia’s family is supportive of both her powers and her trans identity.
Maines, 27, said she feels “really at home” in the season four storyline of “Supergirl” given its decidedly progressive politics. In addition to featuring Nia ― a character whose “transness plays a big part” in her story, according to Maines ― the show will have a pro-immigration message. Fictional anti-immigrant group Children of Liberty will serve as one of the main villains.
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“My acting and activism go hand-in-hand and they really support one another,” Maines said. “And so to be able to bring attention to the current political climate and current issues facing immigration or trans folks, I feel really really lucky to be able to bring my experience with activism into my acting. I don’t have a ton of experience acting, so it’s good to have something I am familiar with to kind of work with.”
The CW has avoided the kind of blacklash it faced on last year announcing it was developing a new “Batwoman,” which would be the first superhero show centered on a lesbian, and also Jewish. In line with a recent spate of “cultural appropriation” and representation controversies, some progressives complained that the choice of Ruby Rose to play the part was inappropriate because, although she identifies as gay, she is gender fluid and not Jewish.
Conservatives have been largely silent on the roll-out of Dreamer, but the right has long complained about Hollywood’s liberal activism.
When it comes to normalizing trans identity, even some liberals have expressed concerns about the erosion of gender distinctions, including in ways that could threaten women’s safety. Experts and others have also sounded the alarm that society has allegedly become too accommodating of trans identity by young people, which could turn out to be mistaken.
Meanwhile, Maines said she hoped to send a message that everyone can be whatever they want to be.”I’m kind of really excited for it. Because I feel like for everybody, whether or not your an actor, I feel like everybody’s kind of like, if I can be a superhero, I can kind of be everything.”