Nicole Maines reflects on her journey to becoming a superhero — both onscreen and off.
In a video for LinkedIn’s #OutOnLinkedIn series, the “Supergirl” actress — who plays Nia Nal, the first transgender superhero on television — opens up about transitioning from male to female in the first grade.
“I transitioned very, very young and I was very, very blessed and very lucky to grow up in the environment that I did and to have the parents that I did,” the 22-year-old said in the video. “They were never outright belligerent of me, and they never sat me down and told me that I was wrong and that I was going to hell for who I was.”
“I asked them when I was going to get to be a girl, because to me it was just the most natural thing in the world and it felt instinctual and it felt right,” she added.
Though there was initially a “very, very good relationship” between her family and the elementary school she attended, things took a turn “when they faced pushback from the special interest Christian right group, who said that my using the girls’ bathroom wasn’t OK.”
Maines says the school then assigned her a “bodyguard” to make sure she was using a staff bathroom separate from her classmates.
“They just sent a message to the rest of the community that said, ‘Hey, here’s this student who is so different from the rest of you that she cannot be permitted to exist in the same public spaces,’” Maines said. “People pick up on that, and we started facing harassment from folks that we had never had issues with before.”
In what became known as “Doe v. Regional School Unit 26,” where Maines was referenced as “Susan Doe” to protect her identity, Maines and her family sued the school district for discrimination.
In 2014, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the school district violated the Human Rights Act and prohibited them from disallowing transgender students to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity.
“It came from a place of trying to do the right thing, trying to get justice for what happened. Standing up and saying enough is enough,” Maines said of the groundbreaking ruling.
As to what advice she would give to transgender individuals who are pursuing acting, Maines says, “Don’t feel pressured to be the ‘trans actor.’ Don’t feel pressured to just be trans and that’s it, because I think, especially right now, there is an eagerness to put people in a very specific box. I think as trans people, we do not have to just accept trans roles. We do not have to be the token trans person. We can just be people. We can just be actors.”
She added, “Don’t let people prioritize your transness over who you are as a person.”
Watch the full video, below: