SDCC 2018: 'Supergirl' Casts Nicole Maines as TV's First Transgender Superhero

Two months after reports emerged that Supergirl was casting a transgender character to appear in season four, today's Comic Con International panel at San Diego introduced fans to Nia Nal, a transgender superhero known as Dreamer who will be played by Nicole Maines.

According to her official character description, Nal is the newest addition to the CatCo reporting team. A soulful young transgender woman with a fierce drive to protect others, Nia’s journey this season means fulfilling her destiny as the superhero Dreamer (much like Kara came into her own as Supergirl).

The Dreamer becomes the first transgender superhero on TV, played by Royal Pains veteran Maines, a trans actress.

Nura Nal, the Legion of Super-Heroes member known as Dreamer in the comics, was an alien with precognitive abilities. The character was created by Edmond Hamilton and John Forte in 1964, although the Dreamer identity debuted in 1996 in a story by Tom Peyer, Tom McGraw, and Lee Moder.

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Maines was featured in the HBO documentary The Trans List and is the subject of the book Becoming Nicole by author Amy Ellis Nutt. She has also appeared in Royal Pains.

She may be positioned to take over the newsroom, as she comes in with a strong journalism background a la Snapper Carr and the initial casting breakdown back in May described her as a “young Cat Grant type.”

In-story, Cat Grant left the news industry to work in government, serving as press secretary to President Olivia Marsdin.

Cat Grant's absence after Season One -- when the show moved production from Los Angeles to Vancouver -- fundamentally altered the show's chemistry in a way that it has struggled to fully repair. The character, played by TV icon Calista Flockhart, was a major part of the series' debut season and reappeared for a few episodes in Season Two.

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CatCo as a whole has been a significantly smaller part of Supergirl this season, with Kara's journalism career largely back-burnered as she deals with metahuman crises. At the same time, Lena Luthor has purchased the company, tying CatCo's handful of stories to Supergirl/DEO tales almost by default. While James Olsen still nominally runs the company, he has rarely been seen there and Winn Schott left CatCo altogether to go to work for the DEO. Adding a new, recurring character based out of the company likely indicates that CatCo will play a bigger role next season.

Supergirl returns in the fall, airing on Sunday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT before episodes of the Charmed relaunch on The CW.