Gender awareness is greatly explored in Jules Vaughn’s (played by Hunter Schafer) character as a transgender, such as how her differences in roles and relations with different genders had a great impact on the show’s credibility and authenticity, as well as how her story and experiences is introduced and narrated throughout the show. Her character shows that she is different from other characters which has a binary gender identity because it emphasizes distinction, that is, she is not considered as male nor female.
Moreover, it is clearly shown in the film that transgenders do not literally mean that they undergo a sex reassignment surgery to conform their gender nonconformity, but they may have some hormone therapy to alter just how Jules do in the film. Also, she already feels nonconformity on her sex assigned to birth since she was young and started transitioning. In this film being analyzed, she doesn’t receive any discriminations from other younger people around her, that is, gender awareness is being portrayed throughout the film.
Episode 1: “Pilot” at 21:02. The boldness and rawness of Jules’ character and how the director executed this scene is shown. This is perhaps the first of many context clues the show revealed. As Jules is getting ready to meet the older man (which is Nate’s father), she injected herself an estrogen, as viewers presume, and how the bulge in her panty is visible, yet there is no confirmation if she is a transgender. Jules has a short-term relationship with the same man she met in a unit.
Further, after having an affair, Jules joins the party of the young people and there, she has been (gipakaawhan) by Nate in front of the crowd because she’s still anonymous to them since she just move to that place. Jules shows her (kasuko) by cutting her arm which shows braviness and it also depicts that she’s invincible. From here, Jules meets a friend named Rue (played by Zendaya in the film).
However, the great thing about this episode is that her character being a transgender is normalized and it is not a big deal especially to the generation that is shown. The father doesn’t care if she’s a trans or not, as well as the people around during the party. It doesn’t mean Euphoria disregards Jules’ gender identity or use it as a plot point. When actually, it does both, yet it does not reduce the rich complexity that is Jules to her transgender status and—so far—without trotting out the same old transgender tropes that have plagued Hollywood and received massive backlash because of misrepresentation (Allen, 2019).
Episode 4: ‘Shook One Pt. II’ at 4:22. This episode starts with a narration from Rue when Jules was still young. It is a heartbreaking scene when the young Jules’ and her mother supposedly going on a “road trip” to see a psychiatrist and going on a tour in a psychiatric hospital. About halfway through the tour, Jules realized that her mother lied as she saw her from afar at the glass door leaving and knowing her mother admitted her into the unit. During her stay, she’s experiencing bullying and inflicting self-harm on herself. After leaving, she begins transitioning at the age of 13.
In addition, Schafer explains “is pretty young in the scheme of trans people” (Chambers, 2019). Since her parents are divorced, she stayed with her father and developed a great relationship and that is why she is able to transition so young because she has an openly supportive father. This transitioning backstory of the show really gives a huge impact on how transgenders are properly represented in media.
It is also shown in this episode the revelation of Nate being Tyler (the one who texts regularly with Jules, in which she considers as an ideal man). Jules’ emotions, being a transgender, is being played by Nate in this certain situation and her character shows disappointment. Moreover, the subtleness of real experiences with regard and authenticity was depicted throughout the episode.
Episode 8: ‘And Salt the Earth Behind You’ at 15:20. This scene is when they all went to the winter formal, talking about school and their relationships with their partners and other issues. In the usual teen series, there are different cliques for different personalities, as well as genders. This show really proves that it is unnecessary in this generation. Everyone belongs and is accepted in the same girl group and everyone is friends with everyone no matter what race, gender, body size and personalities they may possess.
The emergence of transgenders in media especially in films creates a great impact in representing the said community and their portrayal helps young people confirm their identities since it serves as a primary source for gender identification. This study uses gender awareness as the main focus in analyzing the scenes of the selected episodes from the HBO series film Euphoria where Hunter Schafer acts as Jules Vaughn. Through Schafer’s portrayal, it is genuine and authentic in the sense that she, herself, is a transgender individual, a fashion model, as well as an LGBT rights activist in real life thus, she knows well how to execute the scenes that would provide the audience a well-represented trans character of Jules. However, the most captivating thing about the show is that it does not make a big deal about Jules character being a transgender and does not make it the main storyline of her character, but just merely a piece of her identity (Sonoma, 2019).
The film director also consults a transgender consultant prior the filming of Euphoria HBO series, so, it gives a raw and proper representation of the transgender community. According to Scott Turner Schofield, Euphoria’s trans consultant, “director Sam Levinson’s earnest desire to listen to trans individuals and fairly and accurately represent their experiences on screen” (Haasch, 2019).
Moreover, the series appeals strongly to the parents of kids ages 5 to 10 years old with relatively good relationships who can anticipate troubles concerning the future, not teens nor their parents (VanDerWerff, 2019).