Metro Weekly

Dylan Mulvaney Accuses Bud Light of Abandoning Her

Transgender influencer says no one from company reached out after conservatives boycotted the beer giant for partnering with her for promotion.

Dylan Mulvaney speaking about the Bud Light controversy – Photo: Dylan Mulvaney, via TikTok.

Transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney has accused Bud Light, and its parent company, Anheuser-Busch, of throwing her under the bus to placate social conservatives who boycotted the once-popular beer brand for partnering with her as part of a March Madness online promotion.

In a video posted to Instagram and TikTok on June 29, Mulvaney said that she felt abandoned by Bud Light when they failed to reach out to her following a deluge of hateful messages she received after participating in the online promotion. 

A boycott was launched in response to the company’s decision to partner with Mulvaney and create a specially-customized can with her face on it celebrating her transition. The backlash comes as social conservatives have grown tired of LGBTQ visibility, especially transgender visibility, being “pushed” in mainstream media and by corporations, and have sought to punish companies that express solidarity with or support of the LGBTQ community.

“I was waiting for the brand to reach out to me. But they never did,” Mulvaney said in the 4-minute-long video, in which she never mentioned the company by name. 

The trans activist and influencer is most well known for her “Days of Girlhood” video series that documented the day-by-day developments of her gender transition. She gained more than 10 million followers on TikTok from the videos and has been an outspoken advocate for the trans community since growing her public persona.

Mulvaney accepted a brand promotion with Bud Light on April 1, and posted a video of her in an evening gown with cans of Bud Light to promote their “March Madness” giveaway amid the NCAA Division I men’s and women’s basketball championships. The video showed a customized can of Bud Light, featuring Mulvaney’s face, which the company created for the online promotion.

But conservatives were angered by the centering of Mulvaney, and accused Bud Light of going “woke” or pushing transgender “propaganda” in an effort to “indoctrinate” consumers into accepting transgender identity as normal. Many conservatives continue to be overly sensitive about transgender visibility, based on their beliefs that transgender identity is not real or concerns that transgender women are taking opportunities away from cisgender women.

In addition to launching a boycott of Budweiser-affiliated products and other beers created by Anheuser-Busch, some right-wing activists posted videos to social media of themselves dumping out the contents of Bud Light cans or shooting packages of the beer in retaliation for the promotion including Mulvaney. Several right-wing pundits noted that their intent was to not only refuse to purchase Anheuser-Busch products themselves, but to make it socially unacceptable for others to be associated with the brand. 

Mulvaney characterized the treatment and nasty comments she received on social media as part of that backlash as out-of-control “bullying.”

“I patiently waited for things to get better — but surprise! — they haven’t really,” Mulvaney said in her video. “For months now, I’ve been scared to leave my house. I have been ridiculed in public. I’ve been followed. I have felt a loneliness that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. And I’m not telling you this because I want your pity. I am telling you this because if this is my experience from a very privileged perspective, know that it is much, much worse for other trans people.”

She blasted the company for not condemning the attacks against her, arguing that leaving her to fend for herself, without Bud Light taking responsibility for its own marketing decisions, was worse than if the company had never hired a transgender spokesperson in the first place.

“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 in the video, which has been viewed over nine-and-a-half million times since it was uploaded. “It gives customers permission to be as transphobic and hateful as they want… it has serious and grave consequences for the rest of our community.”

An Anheuser-Busch spokesperson released a statement to The Daily Beast saying the company is “committed to programs and partnerships…across communities, including the LGBTQ community” but failed again to mention Mulvaney by name or stand behind her.

“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 spokesperson said in the statement.

The backlash against Bud Light — as well as other pro-LGBTQ corporations or those that have celebrated Pride Month — comes as lawmakers in Republican-dominated legislatures have pushed through legislation seeking to restrict transgender rights, public expressions of gender-nonconformity, or LGBTQ visibility in general.

Many LGBTQ advocates have grown alarmed at what they view as backtracking on human rights, prompting the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization to declare a “state of emergency” for LGBTQ people in the United States, warning them of a large-scale backlash against LGBTQ visibility that has been egged on right-wing influencers and politicians seeking to exploit controversies over LGBTQ rights for political gain.

Mulvaney pushed back against the idea that mere visibility of transgender individuals is a “political” issue, as many on the political Right claim it is. She also hopes that her experience will teach others the importance of providing genuine support for the LGBTQ community, as opposed to corporations seeking to curry favor with LGBTQ people during limited times of the year, such as Pride Month.

Supporting trans people, it shouldn’t be political,” she said. There should be nothing controversial or divisive about working with us, she said. “Bottom line…if you follow me, if I made you smile, if you care about me, I need you to care about every trans person.”

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