Hunter Schafer’s Gender: Life Before and After Surgery

Hunter Schafer was born male, but as he grew up, he came to identify as transgender with the pronoun She and Her.

At age three, Hunter was already showing the signs that she was trapped in the wrong body. By the time she got to the seventh grade, the youngster made bold to confide in her parents, Mac and Katy Schafer, who became a pillar of support on her transition journey. At the age of 18, she underwent a gender transformation surgery and was later placed on hormone therapy to complete the process. Today, the model-turned-actress is recognized in the LGBTQ community as an activist.

Hunter Schafer Was Assigned The Male Gender at Birth

Born on the 31st of December 1998, Hunter Schafer was assigned the male gender at birth. Immediately after birth, the Trenton, New Jersey-born model and actress was listed as male on his birth certificate.

However, by the time Hunter clocked two, her parents began to realize that their baby boy identified less with males and more with the female gender. At that age, she preferred to go for Catwoman and Hawkgirl, even when she had the choice of going with male superheroes in films and comics.

At age three, her mum and dad started noticing that she would want to go to school in a pink dress while fellow boys preferred fireman coats; at that point, they just concluded that the situation was abnormal.


She Suffered Gender Dysphoria As A Child

As Hunter Schafer grew into a young adult, she began to comprehend that she was different from his schoolmates, thus, she started transitioning.

At the onset of her transition process, she kept it a secret from her parents. The New Jersey native leveraged on friends who provided her with feminine items like makeup, which she would put on outside and clean off before going home.

Talking to The Times, Hunter said the journey was very challenging at the onset, but eventually, she managed to let her parents in on her daily struggles with her gender identity, and it was at that point that the real transitioning process started in earnest. Hunter was 14 and in seventh grade when she opened up to her family. This was her first step towards discovering her true identity.

After she confided in her mum and dad, her mom didn’t understand any of it, but her dad did. Even Schafer, that was trying to educate her parents, didn’t fully understand it yet as she still continued to use the “he” pronoun.

When she hit the eighth grade the next year, Hunter Schafer began developing secondary sex characteristics, which became a source of great worry to her. In fact, the anxiety she felt was the crippling kind; it was like being trapped in the wrong body.

Facial hairs that didn’t resonate with whom she wanted to become started coming out. At this point, the trans developed what is referred to as “gender dysphoria” which is described as “distress associated with a strong yearning to be of a different gender”.

Learning her Gender Identity Was a Tough Journey

As a young adult, Hunter leveraged the internet to learn the best way to cope with her real identity. Social media, especially YouTube, came to her aid as she painstakingly studied the transition timelines of other people.

It happened that she was supposed to attend a fashion-design camp, and on the final night, she went to meet her dad to ask if she could go to the show in high heels. Though he wanted to deny her request initially, her dad later said yes, and that marked her first time in heels at a public event.

Talking about her experience at school, Hunter recalled a certain time that her class members were called out to make their choices from the treasure box. While girls were picking feminine items and the boys favored masculine things, the New Jersey native picked a lip gloss ring. In actual fact, Hunter didn’t really understand what the item was, but she heard that ladies put the glittering substance on their lips, and she just loved applying it.

As time rolled by, she gradually became a loner in school and would indulge herself by walking around the halls and imagining she was playing a starring role in a film while her headphones would provide some background music.

Talking to i-D about her experience in school. Hunter Schafer said becoming the odd one out made her brave. Hunter has also mentioned watching television shows such as “Glee” and talking with those who understand various LGBT terms and could explain them to her helped her on the transition.

Hunter Schafer Underwent Transition Surgery at 18

Hunter Schafer
Hunter Schafer’s before and after surgery photos image source

Hunter’s “gender dysphoria” lasted from eighth grade to ninth grade, when she decided to take the final step in her transition process.

By the time she celebrated her 18th birthday, all was set for her to go under the knife for the necessary surgical procedure.

After a successful surgery, the model cum actress was put on some hormone therapy that assisted in the long journey of matching her body to her new gender identity.

Even after the surgery and hormone therapy that were both successful, Hunter Schafer still didn’t feel it right to be put in either the male or the female box. Rather, she preferred to be non-binary as that is where she finds comfort. In addition, the young model said, “choosing to stay out of the binary makes it a lot easier for me to avoid the labels they put on people in the transgender community.

In a later interview, she revealed that she now identifies as trans, and people should note that she isn’t a cis girl and has never felt like one. Hunter said she takes pride in being trans, and she has been at the forefront of matters relating to transgender rights. (Note; Cis is a term that refers to people who still use their presumed gender at birth).

Getting Hunter’s before and after-surgery pictures is difficult. The reason behind this is that she only shares pictures and videos about her life after surgery and seems to abhor the old one where she was trapped in the body of a boy.

She Is Now Living An Authentic Life

Once she completed her transitioning surgery and hormone therapy, life really started making meaning for Hunter Schafer.

According to what the trans model told Harper’s Bazaar, everything felt blurred before her surgery. Replying to an inquiry from her Euphoria co-star, Zendaya, who asked why Hunter doesn’t talk about her childhood, she replied she wasn’t living like her real self and had nothing to say.

According to the New Jersey native, her life story only began in her late teens when she finally started living in her rightful body and assumed her rightful gender identity. Hunter concluded by saying that anybody whose exterior world and body are not in line with whom they perceive themselves to be, is likely to turn inwards. I created a rich inner world till the day I started feeling like my real self in my body”, she said.

Since her surgery, Hunter has been walking and working for some of the top fashion and cosmetic brands as a model.

Hunter Schafer’s Parents Have Supported Her Despite Their Initial Misgivings 

According to Hunter’s parents, they really had a hard time accepting that their son would become a girl. Talking to North Carolina Public Radio, her mum Katy Schafer said she was initially doubtful and told Hunter that “being an artist and liking pretty things doesn’t make her a trans and doesn’t mean she is a girl”.

On his own part, her dad Mac Schafer couldn’t just accept his son’s appearance was going to change. As both parents struggled to come to terms with what was transpiring in Hunter Schafer’s life, “gender dysphoria” set in, and they started noticing the youngster’s inner struggles. At this point, Katy and Mac came to the realization that it wasn’t just a phase, and that was when the tears started flowing, Katy said.

She revealed that the tears were caused by the reality that they would eventually have to give up on who they thought their child was going to be. Mac said it was after Hunter wanted to go for a summer camp fashion show wearing heels that the truth finally hit home. According to Mac, while he replied, ‘Yes, you can.’, everything inside him was screaming, ‘No, no, no,’ and that was exactly when everything fell into place, and it became very real.

Another hitch that Mac and Katy encountered was the challenge of using her female pronouns. However, they found some help in Hunter’s friends, who were quick to get used to her as a ”she,” and with time, they started getting more comfortable with it, and currently, it comes naturally.

On her parents’ reaction, Hunter Schafer said she deems herself lucky to have parents that supported her transitioning process. She made this statement being well aware that there are families that will never support such.

Hunter Schafer is Now An LGBTQ Activist 

In 2020, North Carolina in the United States was set to pass a bill requiring people to visit restrooms corresponding to their originally assigned sex at birth. Thus, they should desist from using the one corresponding to their preferred gender identity.

This was called House Bill 2 or the Bathroom Bill. Needless to say, this bill was tricky for trans people and the members of the LGBTQ+ community, such as Hunter Schafer, as the model existed outside or between gender binaries.

In the midst of the outcry, Chase Strangio – a legal practitioner under the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), reached out to Hunter through Facebook to come and become one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit they were preparing against House Bill 2 and the model wasted no time in accepting.

Thus, Hunter became the youngest plaintiff involved in the lawsuit and willingly went through the ensuing rigorous process. Her daily life became fraught with unending depositions and meetings with lawyers.

In the piece she penned for i-D, Hunter Schafer tried to shed some light on the meaning of House Bill 2 and what it portends for trans people like her. She buttressed her points with her childhood experience; she was a trans kid who only found comfort in using the female restroom but couldn’t go there freely.

She would be left with the choice of using the staff bathroom or going to the gents, which would make her decide to hold it in till she got home. Hunter said she would immediately feel like an outlaw whenever she was pressed, and her natural bodily function became some “unforgivable act.”

The bill was later dropped, though temporarily, and people like Hunter, who fought tooth and nail, said they would still do it a second time without thinking twice.

She is One of the Stars On The Hit HBO Show, Euphoria 

Playing the role of a trans high school student called Jules Vaughn in the hit TV show, Euphoria alongside Zendaya is listed as one of the best things that Hunter Schafer has done in her professional life.

According to Hunter, her plans for the future didn’t include becoming an actress, but fate and providence obviously had other plans for the entertainer. From what is obvious, acting chose her, and it was such a sudden occurrence.

Prior to her debut in Euphoria in 2019, Hunter had been working as a model for years and had big plans of enrolling in a fashion school before acting came calling. Without any acting experience, the youngster auditioned for the role, and within a short while, she was helping in co-writing and co-producing the series.

In the TV series, Jules and Rue Bennett (Zendaya’s character), who was a recovering drug addict and non-binary lesbian character, became good friends as she sought to find her footing in the world.

Talking to V Magazine about her Euphoria character, Hunter Schafer said acting can sometimes become one’s personal experience, and portraying Jules felt like stepping back into her past. Reflecting on her trans journey, Hunter said she fought really hard to transition to the other side. She also admitted to having a lot of Jules’ character in her, which enhanced her performance.

Hunter revealed that she just had to leverage some of her life experiences in depicting Jules as truthfully as possible. The reason she could understand the erratic behaviors displayed by Jules was that she had already been in her shoes and understood exactly what it really felt like. The model cum actress admitted that she loved playing Jules and that all the emotions, challenges, and experience had been quite “therapeutic.”

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