Hunter Schafer Part of ACLU's 2017 Fight Against Transphobic Bathroom Bill

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday January 11, 2021

Hunter Schafer on "Euphoria"
Hunter Schafer on "Euphoria"  (Source:HBO)

Hunter Schafer was a plaintiff in the ACLU's lawsuit against a North Carolina anti-transgender bathroom bill in 2017, Pink News reports.

Prior to her star turn in HBO's hit 2019 show "Euphoria," in which the transgender actor played the role of transgender character Jules, the former model for Dior and Calvin Klein was named in Teen Vogue's "21 under 21," met Hillary Clinton, and took part in the ACLU's suit fighting the House Bill 2 (more commonly referred to as HB2) — all in 2017.

At the time, Schafer told North Carolina public radio, "I do like people to know that I'm not a cis girl because that's not something that I am or feel like I am. I'm proud to be a trans person."

Schafer was born in 1999 in Trenton, New Jersey; her family moved to Arizona before settling in Raleigh, North Carolina. Coming out as trans in high school, Schafer described it as "a pretty intense experience." This is what led to her involvement in the lawsuit against HB2, which would repeal a law banning trans students from using a bathroom based on their gender identity.

At the time, Schafer wrote for i-d, "as a transgender teenager who grew up in North Carolina, navigating bathrooms on my own was an extremely difficult journey, particularly at public school. In early high school (during a more primary stage in my transition), I felt safer using the women's restroom and locker room.

"But I was often met with compromises, like being told to use a staff bathroom or the men's room, which was basically a sentence to eternally hold it in.

"I felt like an outlaw every time I had to pee, as if I this natural bodily function were some unforgivable act."

HB2 was replaced with House Bill 142, which according to Reuters, said that "state legislature had the power to regulate bathroom access, but the legislature did not take action at that time to define access." A settlement the ACLU and Lambda Legal reached with North Carolina Democratic Governor Roy Cooper in 2019 said that state legislation could not be used to prevent transgender people from using state-run facilities based on their gender identity.

Being labeled an activist wasn't something Schafer seemed to be entirely comfortable with, however. Explaining to the New York Times in 2019, Schafer said, "when I think of an activist, I think of a community organiser who is working every day and directly with community members, and making it a job to take care of and speak up for a community in some way.

"So as an actor and an artist whose primary focus is making artwork or world-building, I don't think I fall into that category.

"There might have been a point in my career where, because people have been telling me I'm an activist, I took on that label. But in retrospect, I don't think that's what I am — or what I've been — just because I'm vocal about my identity sometimes."

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.

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