In March 2015, a school board in Millinocket, Maine, created a transgender student policy. The Maineses’ case had forced schools state-wide to examine their rules. The Millinocket guidelines hold that a transgender student should be permitted to use the restroom that fits their gender identity, and that locker rooms should be assigned based on the student’s preference and their safety and comfort.
Even though Nicole faced an immense amount of discrimination and the school did little to protect her, the case forces schools across Maine to make sure that they, too, are not found liable for discrimination. Thus, Nicole’s advocacy and courage helps legions of other students like her attain rights that she was not afforded.
At nearly the same time, Boston University School of Medicine releases the results of the first comprehensive review of the scientific evidence for gender identity as a biological phenomenon. It holds that for transgender people, “the best outcomes for these individuals are achieved with their requested hormone therapy and surgical sexual transition as opposed to psychiatric intervention alone.”
The study at Boston University sums up the point that Nutt has been making through her various scientific studies: gender identity is innate in the brain and unmalleable, and therefore treatment should focus on adjusting one’s body, not trying to “fix” one’s mind.
The University of Maine, however, writes to Nicole telling her that her sex reassignment surgery is not covered by the university’s insurance (managed by Cigna) because it is considered “cosmetic.” The Maineses know this evaluation is absurd. Wayne and GLAD talk to the University of Maine and he submits a second appeal. Two months later, the University of Maine completely reverses its policy, not just for Nicole but for all its health insurance beneficiaries. It is another victory.
Nutt shows the importance of knowledge and the existence of these studies. Without this argument, Nicole’s sex reassignment surgery would not be considered a necessary part of her treatment, which it is. Additionally, this victory represents another realm in which Nicole’s advocacy and courage help her attain more rights for herself and others.
In the spring of 2015, Nicole and Jonas are nearing the end of high school. They’ve both been accepted into colleges, with Jonas studying theater and psychology at the University of Maine in Farmington and Nicole pursuing theater and art at the University of Maine in Orono. At the beginning of the year, Wayne receives an email from GLAAD asking if Nicole would be interested in auditioning for a guest role as a transgender teen in Royal Pains. After a second callback, Nicole is offered the part.
After seeing so many transphobic programs, or ones that showcase violence against the transgender community rather than uplift it, Nicole finds a new arena for her advocacy. She wants to be a good role model for transgender youth, just as Jennifer Finney Boylan and Jazz Jennings were for her.
Nicole and Wayne travel to New York City together to shoot the episode. The limo driver who takes Nicole to set chats with them and admits that he isn’t keen on transgender people (not knowing that Nicole is transgender). When Nicole reveals that she is transgender later in the week, the driver is embarrassed, but Wayne tells him what it means and that it is an identity, not a given set of politics.
Nicole and Wayne take every opportunity to educate people on transgender issues. They don’t want to shame the driver but do want to make sure that he understands what it means to be transgender, and that one can be both conservative and a supporter of LGBT rights—just as Wayne is.
In the first week of June 2015, Nicole and Jonas have their last high school prom. Nicole’s date is a boy she’d met at an anime convention in Portland the year before. Jonas goes with a close friend. Nicole wears a formal black gown and high heels, and they dance happily all night to the music of a DJ.
Although Nutt merely hints that Nicole’s date is a romantic interest, it implies that contrary to her fears, she will be able to find people who can love her for all that she is. She now embodies confident, feminine young woman who she drew in her self-portrait years prior.
A week later, Waynflete holds commencement. Jonas receives his diploma while giving a bear hug to each school official. Nicole curtsies to each person and strikes a pose after accepting her degree. Kelly and Wayne are amazed that the time has gone so fast, and they hold back tears, hoping that they had given their children a good foundation. Wayne thinks how much Kelly has done to get them to this place, and how far he, personally, has come in just a few years.
Wayne recognizes that without the love and support within the family, their children (and Nicole in particular) surely would not have been able to have as much success as they find in high school and beyond.
A year earlier, an oral history project called StoryCorps had contacted the family and asked if they could record the family interviewing one another. They agreed. When Jonas asks Nicole what her most special memory of being an identical twin is, Nicole says she remembers a time when they were very small, and Nicole climbed up over the bars of her crib and then helped Jonas up over his when he couldn’t make it.
This interview between Nicole and Jonas highlights for a final time how much they, specifically, have supported each other. Jonas never questioned Nicole’s gender identity, and protected, loved, and supported Nicole as much as he could—even when he himself was struggling.