Yellowjackets star Nicole Maines on trans visibility: ‘Existing where people don’t want you is radical’

Nicole Maines at the premiere of Yellowjackets season 2.

Nicole Maines made history as TV’s first ever trans superhero – Nia Nal in CBS’s Supergirl. Now, she’s feeding her fans with a recurring appearance in Showtime’s cannibalistic thriller Yellowjackets.

While viewers of the innately queer drama have only just met Maines in character as Lisa, an established member of Lottie’s (Simone Kessel/Courtney Eaton) Camp Green Pine cult and new inductee into Natalie’s (Juliette Lewis) heart, she has already made a big impression. 

The importance of having a trans actress on-screen on one of 2023’s most hotly anticipated series, particularly during a time of intense pushback against the trans community, isn’t lost on Maines.

Speaking to Salon about her role on season two of the hit series, Maines explained why she is continuing her advocacy for trans rights merely by being on-screen and visible.

“My existence, my visibility on screen, the representation will always be advocacy because existing in spaces where people don’t want you is radical and rebellious in nature,” Maines stated.

“We will march, we will vote, we will be out there and protest and continue to radically and rebelliously exist,” she added.

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More than 300 anti-LGBTQ+ pieces of legislation have been introduced in states across the US in 2023 alone, with the majority of the proposed bills targeting trans people.

States including Florida, Kentucky, and Texas are aiming to limit gender-affirming care for trans youth, while Missouri has recently introduced a rule to limit trans healthcare for people of all ages.

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Nicole Maines has more experience than most when it comes to fighting for trans liberation. In 2007, aged just nine years old but well aware of her trans identity, Maines was prevented from using the girls’ bathroom at her school. 

Her family sued the Orono school district in their home state, Maine, and after a legal battle lasting several years, they won. It marked the first time a US court had ruled it unlawful to prevent trans students from using a bathroom matching their gender identity. Her father, Wayne Maines, is now a passionate advocate for trans equality nationally.

Wayne Maines The Dads Nicole Maines
Wayne Maines fought for his trans daughter to use the bathroom. He hasn’t stopped there. (Getty/Supplied)

“I grew up in a window of time where I was able to thrive as a person having access to gender-affirming care, having parents who got on board and were supportive and advocated for me and fought for me,” Nicole Maines explained.

“I was very very lucky. And now it feels like the sand is slipping through our fingers, and it’s terrifying.”

While the amount of political hatred aimed at trans people is rising in the US, the UK and across the world, Maines hopes that her presence on a mainstream show like Yellowjackets can at least offer hope or respite to trans people who need it.

“Being able to at least make people smile, and at least be able to be a trans woman successfully existing happily … Being able to be on this incredible show, this unapologetically queer show, it’s like escape into this, theorise about this.

“Let this be your own escape from your own wilderness right now.”

Yellowjackets season 2 is available to stream now on Showtime and Paramount+.

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