Supergirl is breaking ground, as for Season 4 the show has cast transgender actress-turned-activist Nicole Maines as TV’s first transgender superhero.

Maines will be playing Nia Nal, the newest addition to CatCo’s reporting team. Driven and protective of others, Nia will follow a similar path to Kara, which will lead her to eventually embracing her superhero identity as Dreamer. The introduction of this story will mean spending a little more time at CatCo, which took a backseat last season, while Kara focused on being Supergirl.

Maines explained a little about the character at the show’s SDCC panel, “She has this ferocious drive to protect people and to fight against discrimination and hatred. She’s the superhero we need right now.”

If you’re a DC Comics fan, you may have noticed that Nia shares the surname of Legion of Superheroes member Nura Nal (Dream Girl), but while the two aren’t the same character, it has been confirmed that Nia is Nura’s ancestor.

Maines also spoke a little about the need for representation like this in today’s society, “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.”

As well as the addition of Maines, Supergirl also announced two more new cast members – April Parker Jones, as Colonel Haley, and David Ajala who will play Machester Black. Colonel Haley has been described as a dedicated soldier who lives and dies by the orders of her commanding officers, and always acts in the country’s best interest. Manchester Black on the other hand is the kind of guy who brings a knife to a gun fight and still walks away the winner. With a dark past, he easily deflects the brutality of his mission with his charm and sense of humour.

Supergirl returns on October 14th.

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