Transgender UNC School of the Arts student joins HB2 federal lawsuit

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Hunter Schafer, a 17-year-old high school junior, has joined the lawsuit against House Bill 2 originally filed with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal.

Schafer is a visual artist who enjoys skateboarding, sculpture and dreams of a career in fashion.

“I'm kind of more interested in the sculptural side of this and I think fashion is something that I want to go into and art and relativity to the body,” Schafer said.

She came to the UNC School of the Arts because she said it would best suit her aspirations.

In turn, the school has accommodated her as a transgender student who identifies and is transitioning to a female.

Schafer was born a male but said she always preferred activities that are “stereotypically considered as a female.”

“Every day in preschool, I would wear this princess dress and put it on and it was magical and I was always begging my mom to paint my nails like my sisters,” Schafer said.

During the ninth grade, Schafer was diagnosed with genetic dysphoria due to the anxiety surrounding her hormonal changes and emotional identification during puberty. She said her parents were hesitant at first but said she is fortunate to have such a supportive family.

“After kind of coming to a consensus that this was a real thing, I was put on hormone blockers which kind of pressed the pause button on puberty and gave me time to think about my identity,” Schafer said.

In the last year, Schafer has been using estrogen and is pleased with her transition but is not pleased with HB2 and the choices the law forces the transgender community to make.

“Under the law, my school may be forced to put me into a position that they don't want to put me in and that I don't want to be put in -- and that's wrong,” Schafer said. “I currently live in the female dorms and use my own restroom. Now, under HB2, that's where I feel most comfortable is using my own restroom that has been provided in my dorm so I'm really glad I have that as an alternative.”

Beverly and Kelly Trent, from Charlotte, also join Schafer and five other plaintiffs in the case; including the ACLU of North Carolina.

Lambda Legal, the ACLU and the ACLU of North Carolina filed the lawsuit together back in March.

"In the complaint, the plaintiffs allege that through HB2, North Carolina sends a purposeful message that LGBT people are second-class citizens who are undeserving of the privacy, respect, and protections afforded others in the state. The complaint argues that HB2 is unconstitutional because it violates the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment because it discriminates on the basis of sex and sexual orientation and is an invasion of privacy for transgender people. The law also violates Title IX by discriminating against students and school employees on the basis of sex."