Jimmy Fallon sparked outrage for calling Hunter Schafer “bud,” but was it overblown?

Hunter Schafer and Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show
Hunter Schafer and Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show. Photo: Screenshot

Jimmy Fallon sparked outraged recently for calling transgender actress Hunter Schafer “bud.”

The Euphoria star stopped by The Tonight Show on November 17 to promote her new film The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes. During their conversation, Fallon referred to Schafer as “bud” twice.

The host pulled out a photo of Schafer dressed as a character from The Hunger Games as a child. She explained that she was “obsessed” with the way the elites in the franchise dressed as a kid and made her own costume inspired by them.

“Oh bud, it’s unbelievable! This is really cool, now you’re in Hunger Games,” Fallon enthused. “Look at you! Congratulations, bud!”

In the days that followed, some fans took to social media to blast Fallon, claiming that “bud” is a male-coded word.

“A slight minority of people might say it in a gender neutral way. but you obviously know it’s used exclusively for men most the time,” one use wrote on X. “Even if Hunter isn’t bothered, it’s still gross and telling of how Fallon views trans women.”

“My nuanced opinion is that Jimmy Fallon’s drunk ass accidentally said bud cuz he was looking at the picture of baby hunter,” another wrote, “but no ‘bud’ is not gender-neutral in practice, people are not overreacting.”

“You can’t tell me with a straight face that Jimmy Fallon wouldn’t have used girl instead of bud if it had been a cis actress instead of Hunter Schafer,” another X user posted.

But others on X pointed out that Fallon has actually used the word in conversation with cis women plenty of times.

BuzzFeed News even unearthed several instances in which the host called actors Selena Gomez and Drew Barrymore “bud,” and used the masculine coded words “dude” and “man” to refer to Jennifer Lawrence.

While Fallon is far from perfect—he recently faced allegations of creating a toxic work environment for staff of The Tonight Show—he has shown support for the trans community in the past. After then-President Donald Trump unilaterally banned transgender people from serving in the military in 2017, the notoriously a-political late night host invited trans actress Patti Harrison on to roast the former president.

And in 2020, Fallon welcomed musical guest Bad Bunny, who wore a shirt during his performance calling out the media for misgendering a Puerto Rican trans woman who was murdered that February.

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