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Dylan Mulvaney breaks silence on ‘cruel’ Bud Light backlash

Conservative politicians and celebrities boycotted the brand after partnering with the trans TikTok star

Meredith Clark
New York
Friday 28 April 2023 18:18 BST
Dylan Mulvaney announces ‘March Madness’ brand partnership with Bud Light

Dylan Mulvaney has broken her silence after receiving transphobic backlash for her partnership with Bud Light.

The transgender TikTok star addressed some of the online hate in a TikTok video posted on Thursday 27 April, her first video after taking a several weeks-long social media silence. Speaking to her 10.8m followers, Mulvaney explained that she’s stayed mainly offline since people began boycotting Bud Light for their partnership with the trans activist.

“I’m gonna try to leave gender out of this since that’s how we found ourselves here,” she began her message. “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.”

Mulvaney shared that she “decided to take the back seat” until the controversy died down, but ultimately wanted to give an update to fans who have supported her throughout the backlash.

“I’m doing okay and I’m trying this new thing where I don’t pressure myself to share anything before I’m ready,” she explained. “And I’m actually sitting with my emotions, you know, not reacting, waiting to respond and shockingly, I can’t recommend it more. Therapy is paying off here, people. But I do have some thoughts to share with you.”

Mulvaney continued, ​​“What I’m struggling with most is that I grew up in a conservative family, and I’m extremely privileged because they still love me very much. And I grew up in the church, and I still have my faith, which I am really trying to hold onto right now.”

Though she didn’t mention Bud Light by name, the 26-year-old 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 dehumanize and to be cruel. I just, I don’t think that’s right. Dehumanisation has never fixed anything in history, ever.”

Mulvaney then thanked her fans and followers for “choosing to see my humanity” amidst the transphobic hate.

“I’m embarrassed to even tell you this, but I was nervous that you were going to start believing those things that they were saying about me, since it is so loud,” she said. “But I’m just going to go ahead and trust that the people who know me and my heart won’t listen to that noise.

“What I’m interested in is getting back to making people laugh and to never stop learning. And going forward, I want to share parts of myself on here that have nothing to do with my identity. And I’m hoping those parts will still be exciting to you and will be enough. And to those of you who support me and choose to see my humanity even if you don’t fully understand or relate to me, thank you.”

On 1 April, Mulvaney shared a video to Instagram promoting Bud Light’s March Madness contest. In the video, Mulvaney – who rose to social media stardom after documenting her transition over the past year by marking each day “of being a girl” – was dressed like Audrey Hepburn’s character in Breakfast at Tiffany’s as she filmed herself with multiple cans of Bud Light. The influencer also noted that, in celebration of her 365th day of “womanhood”, the company sent her a can of Bud Light with her face on it.

The video instantly received backlash from conservative politicians and celebrities, including Kid Rock and Travis Tritt. Others called for a boycott of the beer, and filmed videos of themselves smashing or shooting at cases of Budweiser products. Anheuser-Busch, the producer of Budweiser beers, issued a statement in response to the boycott, saying that they “never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people.”

“We have thousands of partners, millions of fans and a proud history supporting our communities, military, first responders, sports fans and hard-working Americans everywhere,” said CEO Brendan Whitworth. “We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people. We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer.”

The brand partnership between Mulvaney and Bud Light comes amid a recent push by conservative groups across the US to pass anti-trans bills, and Republican-backed efforts to pass anti-drag bills, which many have deemed anti-LGBTQ.

Kid Rock shoots gun at cans of Bud Light for partnering with transgender activist

Prior to her social media silence, Mulvaney addressed some of the anti-trans backlash to her multiple brand partnerships during a podcast episode of iHeartRadio’s Onward with Rosie O’Donnell on 11 April. Mulvaney, who was also the subject of a recent Maybelline boycott after she sponsored the makeup brand, spoke about the ongoing attacks towards transgender people in the US why she believes she’s been hit with a lot of criticism.

“The reason that I think I am so…I’m an easy target is because I’m so new to this,” Mulvaney said. “I think going after a trans woman that’s been doing this for like 20 years is a lot more difficult. I think maybe they think that there’s some sort of chance with me…But what is their goal?”

“I’m not worried about the people talking about me on their podcasts, I’m worried about their listeners,” she added. “And I also think that, it’s just a heavy time. And it’s time to step up, for sure.”

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