Steve Lightle and Guy Major, Legion of Superheroes #9. Nicole Maines at a GLAAD event.
Image: DC Comics, Getty

The cast of Supergirl came to this year’s San Diego Comic-Con to present a brief glimpse at the impending alien invasion that will shake National City to its core, but soon after the Con-exclusive sizzle reel ended, the show’s newest cast member made a surprise appearance on stage and announced an important moment in TV history.

Nicole Maines, best known for her for her activism for transgender rights, will join Supergirl’s fourth season as Nia Nal, a reimagined version of Nura Nal, the precognitive hero who goes by the codename Dream Girl. Supergirl’s Nia—who will go by the superhero codename Dreamer instead of Dream Girl—is a young reporter working for CatCo who transfers to the National City office and quickly finds a friend in Kara.

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While Maines is relatively new to acting, she first entered the public spotlight as a teenager in 2013 when the Maine Supreme Court ruled that it was unlawful for her high school to deny her access to the girls’ bathroom. Supergirl reimagining Nia this way is monumental given that she’ll be network television’s first transgender superhero and the character is actually being played by a transgender actress, a concept that certain studios don’t seem to be able to understand that Hollywood needs way more of.

Just how Nia will factor in with the chaos and mayhem threatening to destroy the Earth (yet again) remains to be seen, but it’s safe to say that when Supergirl returns on October 14, she’ll be out there kicking alien ass and taking names with the best of them.

The reel which played at the panel didn’t have a ton of new footage (new Alex haircut!). What it did have was a new, space-faring, super suit.

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