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Influencer Dylan Mulvaney says Bud Light failed to support her amid transphobic backlash

‘For months now, I’ve been scared to leave my house,’ the influencer says

Amber Raiken
New York
Wednesday 05 July 2023 14:27 BST
Related: How Bud Light mishandled the Dylan Mulvaney backlash

Dylan Mulvaney has accused Bud Light of failing to support her amid the transphobic backlash she’s faced since partnering with the brand.

On Thursday, the transgender influencer, 26, shared a video to TikTok addressing the months of “bullying and transphobia,” with Mulvaney claiming Bud Light did not “publicly stand by” her amid the right-wing backlash over a sponsorship deal between herself and the brand in April.

“For a company to hire a trans person and then not publicly stand by them is worse, in my opinion, than not hiring a trans person at all,” she said.

Mulvaney’s comments came after Brendan Whitworth, the CEO of Bud Light’s parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev, appeared on CBS Mornings on Wednesday to address the backlash. However, after claiming “Bud Light should be all about bringing people together,” he declined to answer directly when asked whether the campaign featuring Mulvaney was a mistake.

In her TikTok video, Mulvaney recalled how the backlash began after she posted an Instagram video in April of her drinking Bud Light while dressed up as Audrey Hepburn. She said the sponsored clip for the brand, which was part of the beer company’s March Madness campaign, led to more “bullying and transphobia than [she] could have ever imagined”.

“I should have made this video months ago, but I didn’t,” she said. “I was scared of more backlash, and I felt personally guilty for what transpired. So I patiently waited for things to get better, but surprise, they haven’t really.”

According to Mulvaney, she had initially waited for the brand to “reach out” to her before posting her video, but claimed no one from the company has contacted her. She went on to describe how her mental health and everyday life have been negatively impacted by the transphobic backlash.

“For months now, I’ve been scared to leave my house. I have been ridiculed in public. I’ve been followed,” she said. “And I have felt a loneliness that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. If this is my experience from a very privileged perspective, know that it is much, much worse for other trans people.”

Mulvaney also said she believes the brand’s failure to condemn the backlash gave customers “permission” to be “as transphobic and hateful as they want”.

In the video, Mulvaney also acknowledged how the “hate” towards transgender people “doesn’t end with” her. “It has serious and grave consequences for the rest of our community. And we’re customers, too. I know a lot of trans and queer people who love beer,” she continued.

The influencer, who rose to fame for her viral video series “Days of Girlhood,” went on to express her disappointment in the brand for not speaking out about the ongoing transphobia. She also condemned fans and followers who have refused to “get political” amid the backlash.

“To turn a blind eye and pretend everything is okay, it just isn’t an option right now. And you might say: ‘But Dylan, I don’t want to get political.’ Babe, supporting trans people, it shouldn’t be political. There should be nothing controversial or divisive about working with us,” she said.

She said her partnerships were not controversial, and said she had worked with “fantastic companies who care”. However, she also said “caring for the LGBTQ+ community requires a lot more than a donation somewhere during Pride month”.

Mulvaney went on to send a message to her followers: “I need you to care about every trans person,” she said. “And I need you to support us and stand by us.”

She ended her video by noting that she’s going to “celebrate” how far she’s come, and “being alive”. She also said she wouldn’t let the online hate get to her.

“No matter how many thousands of horrible messages [there are], or news anchors misgendering me, or companies going silent, [I know] that I can look in the mirror and see the woman that I am, and that I’ve loved being,” she added.

Mulvaney concluded by encouraging viewers to donate to the Transgender Law Center, before expressing her love for her supporters.

While he didn’t address the online hatred towards Mulvaney on CBS Mornings on Wednesday, Whitworth noted that “Bud Light has supported LGBTQ since 1998, so that’s 25 years”.

“And as we’ve said from the beginning, we’ll continue to support the communities and organisations we’ve supported for decades. But as we move forward, we want to focus on what we do best: which is brewing great beer for everyone,” he said.

On 28 April, Mulvaney first broke her silence about the criticism of her Bud Light partnership. In a video shared to TikTok, Mulvaney explained that she was avoiding social media at the time, since people were boycotting Bud Light.

“I’m gonna try to leave gender out of this since that’s how we found ourselves here,” she said. “I’ve been offline for a few weeks and a lot has been said about me, some of which is so far from my truth that I was, like, hearing my name and I didn’t even know who they were talking about sometimes. It’s a very dissociative feeling.

Though she didn’t mention Bud Light by name, the social media influencer went on to tell critics that there’s no “need to dehumanise and to be cruel”.

“But I’ve always tried to love everyone, you know, even the people that make it really, really hard,” she said. “And I think it’s okay to be frustrated with someone or confused, but what I’m struggling to understand is the need to dehumanise and to be cruel. I just, I don’t think that’s right. Dehumanisation has never fixed anything in history, ever.”

Speaking to The Independent, an Anheuser-Busch spokesperson issued a statement, saying: “As we’ve said, we remain committed to the programs and partnerships we have forged over decades with organizations across a number of communities, including those in the LGBTQ+ community. The privacy and safety of our employees and our partners is always our top priority. As we move forward, we will focus on what we do best – brewing great beer for everyone and earning our place in moments that matter to our consumers.”

The Independent has contacted a representative for Mulvaney.

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