The Presbyterian pastor is committed to showing up for his daughter and the rest of the LGBTQ+ community.
Euphoria’s second season won’t grace our TV screens for a bit longer, but even in the HBO drama’s off-season, its promising cast members are still making waves. For Hunter Schafer, who plays Jules, that means not only killing the modeling game (as the face of coveted brands like Prada) but co-writing Euphoria’s second-ever special, which aired in January, and gave an intimate look at how 17-year-old Jules feels about femininity and being trans. But the actor, model, and LGBTQ+ activist isn’t alone in offering her perspective on trans issues. Most recently, Hunter Schafer’s dad’s essay advocating for trans equality was published — and it’s a must-read.
Schafer has long been an outspoken advocate for her community. In high school, the North Carolina-raised starlet protested against her state’s anti-transgender HB2 stature — which, at the time, restricted trans students from using the restroom of their choice — and today, her role on Euphoria represents the kind of rare-yet-authentic trans visibility and inclusion the LGBTQ+ community deserves.
Still, despite society’s growing acceptance and affirmation of trans individuals, many U.S. lawmakers are attempting to reverse that progress. In April 2021, CNN reported 33 states have introduced more than a hundred statutes aimed at diminishing the rights of trans people nationwide.
Now, in a new essay for People, Hunter Schafer’s father, Mac, a Presbyterian pastor, opened up about supporting his daughter, the queer community, and continuing the decades-long battle against institutionalized LGBTQ+ discrimination.
“As parents, Katy and I are pained at the news of this anti-trans crusade, because we know that most Americans don't want to harm people for being who they are,” Mac said in the essay published on May 25. “Polling consistently shows that Americans support protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination, and a recent study showed that a majority of people oppose specific anti-transgender bills. It feels like some lawmakers, however, are trying to pull us back and undo the progress that our country has made on the question of transgender dignity and equality.”
Some of the anti-trans legislation Schafer’s father referred to includes bills seeking to ban trans youth from participating in school sports; other laws plan to punish doctors who provide trans-affirming medical care and deny care for trans individuals until they turn 21 years old. Schafer’s stomping grounds of North Carolina is one of the states pushing for this discriminatory healthcare ban.
These transphobic bills are why statures like the Equality Act (which, in summary, would provide legitimate anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ individuals in so many different areas of day-to-day life) are necessary, noted Mac.
“In most states, LGBTQ people remain vulnerable to discrimination in key areas of life, including public spaces like restaurants, stores and services like ride shares and public transit,” said Mac. “We need to be encouraging municipalities to pass LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances, as seven already have done just this year in North Carolina. We need to be calling on our senators to support the Equality Act, which protects LGBTQ people in every area of life.”
Mac’s call to action is spot-on. Even though the U.S. has made a lot of progress in supporting the LGBTQ+ community, the Human Rights Campaign emphasizes the fact that many queer people still lack basic legal protections. On a federal level, the Equality Act would offer this security; the bill already passed the House of Representatives and just needs to make it through the Senate.
Schafer’s father also gets super real about “religious freedom” being an invalid excuse for opposing the Equality Act. “[My wife and I] fully believe that LGBTQ folks are beautifully and wonderfully made by God and are an essential part of the human community,” he wrote. “This is the pathway forward: Commit to the health and well-being of all people, including LGBTQ people. Recognize that we are all children of God and made in the image of God. Abandon efforts to single people out for discrimination... We must come together to pass full and clear nondiscrimination protections at the federal level.”
Pastor Schafer is doing some serious preaching. Let’s hope his essay reaches those who need to read it most.