The Maine Woman’s Fund (MWF) has chosen Waynflete senior Nikki Maines as its recipient of the 2015 Samantha Smith award. The MWF announced the award this way:
“The Samantha Smith Award recognizes a young woman from Maine who works to promote social change in her school or community, inspires other girls to become active in supporting long lasting change in Maine, uses her voice boldly to influence others and make a difference in her community.”
“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 Maine’s 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.””
While an inspiration to so many, Nikki is not one to rest on her accomplishments. Here is a podcast of an essay Nikki wrote and recorded last year for a class in which she reflects on hiding her identity, overcoming prejudice (including her own), and coming to Waynflete.
Congratulations to Nikki Maines.