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Nicole Maines poses at her home in Portland, Maine. Maines, a transgender activist who won a discrimination lawsuit after her school refused to let her use the girls' bathroom will be TV's first transgender superhero.
Robert F. Bukaty/AP
Girls & Women

The First Transgender Superhero Is Coming to TV

Why Should Global Citizens Care
Supergirl marks a breakthrough moment for trans rights in the US, where trans people routinely face discrimination and abuse. The United Nations’ Global Goals calls on equal human rights for all people and you can take action on this issue here.

The activist and actress Nicole Maines will be the character Dreamer in the CW/Warner Bros. show Supergirl, making her the first transgender superhero in television history, according to the Associated Press.

Supergirl is an action-adventure television series about Superman’s cousin. Supergirl follows her story from when she was sent to Earth by her parents after Krypton exploded, and now as she tries to protect the city in which she ended up. It first aired in October 2015; Supergirl’s fourth season begins Oct. 14, 2018, on The CW.

Take Action:Test Your Knowedge: Gender Based Violence

Maines, who is 20 years old, takes her new role very seriously.

“I think we’re in a time right now where more than ever representation in the media matters. And what we see on television has a very dramatic effect on our society,” she told Variety. “We’ve had trans representation in television for a while, but it hasn’t been the right representation.”

When Maines was coming of age, in the late '90s and early 2000s, she became accustomed to seeing trans women portrayed as sex workers or people with drug addictions played by cisgender men, she told Variety.

Maines became a national icon for the transgender rights movement following her lawsuit against her school district in 2014, where she claimed the school was discriminating against her. After a student’s grandfather complained about Maines using the girl’s restroom, her school banned her from it, forcing her to use a staff bathroom, according to The Press Herald.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court eventually ruled in Maines’ favor and awarded her and her family $75,000, arguing that the school district violated the Human Rights Act. Additionally, the court ruled that the school district was prohibited from barring transgender students from the bathrooms that aligned with their gender identity.

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Transgender issues have gained more and more publicity in recent years. As of June 2018, 18 states plus Washington, DC, had adopted laws that prohibit discrimination against transgender people in public accomodations, housing, and employment, according to the ACLU.

But progress toward equal rights has been stagnant. Most recently, US President Donald Trump tried to ban transgender people from the US military, according to the ACLU. Various states, meanwhile, have worked to restrict transgender rights.

As trans people continue to face discrimination in the United States and across the world, Maines’ new character will not only be fighting fictional villains, but also widespread prejudices.