Nicole Maines, 2015 Samantha Smith Awardee

Nicole Maines

2015 Samantha Smith Awardee

Nicole Maines, who is transgender, has always been an advocate for being who you are. In 2013, Nicole and her family won a long-standing lawsuit against her school after she'd been forced to use a staff bathroom instead of the girls' bathroom. Maine's Supreme Court ruled that Nicole Maines' rights had been violated under the state's Human Rights Act, marking a historic and landmark victory for transgender rights in the U.S. 

Nicole continues to play an active role in advocating for her rights: she has spoken on Maine Public Radio to shine a light on what it means to be transgender in Maine; she has appeared before the Maine Legislature speaking to legislators about transgender children; and she was a summer volunteer for Equality Maine.

"When we won, it felt like this huge weight was lifted off," says Maines. "There's still work to be done and stories that need to be told.... I think [advocacy] will always be a part of my life."