A Chelsea Clinton-Backed Transgender App Is Stirring Up Debate on Twitter

A new app called Euphoria has been garnering attention on social media thanks to the recent announcement that Chelsea Clinton has come on board as one of its biggest investors. Of course, the former First Daughter's involvement has also made the app a target for criticism—and that's in addition to the issues that have been raised about the app's actual content, which doesn't sit right with some members of the transgender community.

Euphoria
Euphoria, an app designed to help people during gender transition. Euphoria

Many of the opposing comments about the app on Twitter can be categorized as transphobia—hate speech coming from people upset that an app exists for transgender people in any form. However, there are also plenty of transgender people who are upset about the Euphoria app, and who are sharing their complaints widely on Twitter. Some of the app's transgender critics worry that it benefits cisgender heteronormative millionaires like Clinton, while others claim it tries to define the gender transition process in too clear-cut of a manner.

"The whole point of what we're trying to do is essentially make life for transgender people like myself a little bit easier to manage," Euphoria's co-founder and CEO, Robbi Katherine Anthony (RKA), told Newsweek recently.

The basic breakdown of Euphoria is three separate stages: Clarity, Bliss and Solace. Clarity is service designed for those who are just beginning gender transition, to help them personalize, better understand, and then track their personal goals for identity, expression and even who they may seek in terms of a romantic or sexual partner.

The second part, Bliss, functions as a money tool to give breakdowns of how much users should save for various future goals, like say, if they're seeking out hormone therapy or gender confirmation surgery. Last is Solace, which RKA refers to as Euphoria's "flagship" and a "compendium for gender transition." It offers a wealth of information spanning from how to find health insurance coverage, to directions on finding lawyers who can assist in initiating the process of changing one's name. All three are free to use, though Solace offers some subscription-only products online through the Solace Plus service.

When news broke in mid-February of the app receiving funding of more than $250,000 from the likes of Chelsea Clinton and the LGBTQ+ investment firm Gaingels, many social media users seized on the Clinton association. Accusations of Clinton pulling the strings for the company to swindle the transgender community immediately surfaced, as did the fraudulent claim of no trans people being consulted about the app's creation.

Chelsea Clinton and everyone else behind Euphoria are all like: pic.twitter.com/Z7o0E3AA4h

— Lost Mind 🟥⬛🍞🍀 (@IDontEvenNooh42) February 20, 2021

"She's a champion for us, but not the driver of anything," RKA said of Clinton. "She's someone I look up to in terms of guidance. With all the respect in the world to her, she couldn't really force me to make any sort of decision. Her role very much is an investor."

When asked how Clinton came aboard, RKA described the move as very happenstance. "We were looking to talk with angel investors, and one of my colleagues somehow ran into Chelsea ... mentioned [Euphoria's] name and then made an email introduction. We pitched our hearts out to her," RKA said. "She came back and decided that she was going to come in as an individual investor. It's definitely the most prominent name on our investor roster, but ironically wasn't something that we ever really sought out. Not in a million years would we have thought we actually would've gotten on a deal from her."

RKA
RKA, founder of Euphoria. Euphoria

Clinton, too, has stressed that her role is that of a supporter of the app specifically and of the trans community as a whole. When announcing her investment with the company, she released the following statement: "Too many trans people in our country have gone, and continue to go, without access to critical resources and information. Euphoria's co-founders RKA and Patrick McHugh are changing that, providing a suite of platforms to empower the trans community. I'm proud to support Euphoria in its mission to lead us toward a better, healthier and more inclusive future."

Ashley R.T. Yergens, an artist and transgender public health advocate, told Newsweek that he had some reservations about the app—particularly regarding potential medical advice being available on the app. "An app is never going to be able to address the bio-individuality of a transgender person like a face-to-face interaction with a clinical practitioner would," Yergens said.

"We put out these disclaimers: We are not medical experts; we are not legal experts. We position ourselves as trusted friends," RKA said when asked about this concern. Instead, Euphoria partners with the transgender healthcare service Plume to help connect users with medical professionals and resources. (Euphoria plans to release another app called "Catharsis" in the near future, which will serve as more of a mental and emotional health platform.) RKA said the app also offers an index for all 50 states on how to find out about getting insurance or how to receive Medicare.

Sheryl Ring has also voiced objections to Euphoria on Twitter. Ring is a transgender Chicago-based consumer/civil rights lawyer. One of her main concerns is she feels the app tries to define transitions in one clear-cut way. "Not every person transitions in the same way," she told Newsweek. "Different people are going to have different needs. [Euphoria] is essentially funneling people into a one-size-fits-all transition place, which is the exact opposite of what transition is supposed to be. Gender is not a binary, gender is not a trinary. Gender is a spectrum, and everyone's gender is going to be different."

Euphoria may not realize it, but it is very much gatekeeping. Here's an app telling you how to transition! And the dangerous part is how it plays into the myth that transitioning is a trendy, cool fad as opposed to a serious journey of self-discovery.

6/

— Sheryl Ring 🚩🌈 ✡️ (@Ring_Sheryl) February 19, 2021

Ring also said that, as a lawyer, she has some issues with other pieces of advice that she's seen posted from the app on social media. (She's never used the app personally.) One commonly shared pointer from Euphoria is what a trans person should do if they're pulled over by the police. The suggestion of being respectful and cool-headed with law enforcement angered many people on Twitter, including Ring, who said it's neither good legal advice nor safe. According to her, police and the transgender community are too often at odds. "I have had police pulled me over with guns," Ring said.

RKA said critics are missing the point of the app by not giving it a chance, or it just simply might not be for them. Growing up in Spokane, Washington (among other places), RKA said she found it difficult to access the information she sought out about transitioning. "None of this is to say that there's a perfect way to do this," she said. "It's just one way forward—if you choose—and that decision is entirely incumbent on people if they want to download our tech."