In and out of Euphoria: A look into the transgender experience

Niamh Brannan, Staff Writer

Season two of HBO Max’s hit show Euphoria has come to a close, and with each episode came an appearance from Jules, primary or ephemeral, with such, as a trans actress and trans character, Jules Vaughn/Hunter Schafer has faced an onslaught of transphobia from characters on the show and fans alike. 

Many of the show’s viewers, mainly cisgender individuals, had not recognized Jules as trans until explicitly stated or made apparent by others, although the show touches on the subject an endless amount of times, and the character of Jules’ experience would be unrecognizable if not transgender. 

From the first episode, Jules’ transness is illustrated from moments during Jules’ introduction referencing her transition, a scene of her injecting herself with estrogen, another scene of Rue Bennet injecting the estrogen for her, comments from other characters pointing it out, an episode dedicated to Jules’ backstory explicitly talking about her transness, and so much more. 

Although her role in the story of Euphoria should not be reduced only to her transness, it is important to discuss the implications of such to the show and its perception. 

Regardless, Jules’ transness has never been an issue for most transgender individuals; in fact, many believe she is an extremely current, relatable, and accurate portrayal of trans-fem [transgender people who present feminine] individuals, but it has become just that for many of the fans, an issue, conscioussely or not.

Jules’ transness has mostly become an issue only with cisgender individuals, sometimes overtly but most often covertly and attributed to different concepts, such as her actions in the show that have hurt other characters, and her personality in general, but the fact of the matter is if Jules was not trans she would not face this backlash. 

This claim is discernible mostly by the fact that many of the other characters of the show have done similar, if not worse actions and face little to no criticism. These actions and backlash were noticed in how the character of Jules handled her relationship with Rue, among others, and how during that relationship Jules “cheated on” and “manipulated” Rue. 

Albeit these actions are in no way commendable, the issue of its condemnation lies in other characters’ parallel actions, and the fans’ justification of such- this concept is noted in the conflict and relationships of Maddie, Cassie, and Nate, in which Cassie went behind Maddie’s back to have relations with Nate.  

Subsequent to these notions, and people’s claims of support for Jules, introspection becomes imperative. By analyzing and deconstructing the systemic, transphobic beliefs in one’s self and those around them that contribute to the current and harmful notions associated with Jules and therefore Hunter Schafer, society will be able to move to a place where transgender representation is not only more accurate and relatable, but also used as a tool to better understand the experiences of transgender individuals.