It’s official: CW’s Supergirl season 4 will introduce the very first transgender superhero Dreamer, to be played by 21-year-old trans woman Nicole Maines.

Nicole first came out to her parents as trans in the early 2000s and later became a media sensation. Her situation was particularly unique because she was born as an identical male twin. She was also the subject of the book Becoming Nicole, a New York Times bestseller.

Since then, she’s turned her focus to trans activism. But now she’s about to take on a new role: actress.

After Supergirl‘s Comic-Con panel, she explained to Variety why her new role is so significant.

“We can be whoever we want, we can do whatever we want, we can be superheroes because in many ways we are. We’ve had trans representation in television for a while but it hasn’t been the right representation.”

The announcement of Nicole’s casting couldn’t be more timely. Recently, cisgender actress Scarlett Johansson announced she’d play a trans man in the upcoming file Rub and Tug. Her casting elicited a huge backlash from both trans activist and allies and she has since dropped out of the project.

If you’re still having trouble understanding why ScarJo’s casting was so problematic, Nicole has the perfect explanation.

“We don’t see the same issue with sexuality, we see straight people play gay all the time. With trans folks, we have a lot of people accusing us of just playing dress up for whatever reasons and that’s just not true. Having trans people play trans roles show that we are valid in our identities and we exist.”

But she realizes that in Hollywood, the problem truly is ignorance.

“I think that cisgender actors don’t take roles out of malice, it’s just a failure to realize the context of having cisgender people play transgender characters.”

Nicole hopes that this will only be the beginning of her acting career. At Comic-Con, she told the crowd,

“I’ve just been doing a lot of auditions lately because a lot of different shows have been really eager to tell the stories of transgender people, especially transgender youth. Because it’s such an important issue right now in our society and in the world. And so it seems only fitting that we have a trans superhero for trans kids to look up to. I wish there was a trans superhero when I was little”

With shows like Pose and actors like Laverne Cox (OITNB) and Elliot Fletcher (Shameless, The Fosters) becoming increasingly popular, it does seem like a few roles for trans actors are starting to open up.

Hopefully, opportunities and visibility for trans actors will only increase as the public continues learning about transgendered individuals and their experiences.

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Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, and Tiger Beat. Her favorite Housewife is Bethenny Frankel (by far!), but when she’s not watching RHONY, you can probably find her hanging with her kitty Tom or tweeting at Sen. Chuck Schumer.

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