Dylan Mulvaney is addressing the online hate she received following a brand deal with Bud Light that prompted backlash from conservatives.
After a several-week break from social media, the influencer — who has been documenting her transition via TikTok since March 2022 in a series called “Days of Girlhood” — posted a video on the app Thursday to her 10.8 million followers. Though she didn’t mention Bud Light by name, Mulvaney’s message was clear: “dehumanization has never fixed anything in history, ever.”
On April 1, Mulvaney promoted a Bud Light March Madness contest on her Instagram account, in which she shared that the company had sent her a can of beer with her face on it. The video sparked backlash from conservative politicians and celebrities, including musicians Kid Rock and Travis Tritt, who called for a boycott of the beer. As a result, sales slumped and Brendan Whitworth, the CEO of Bud Light owner Anheuser-Busch, put out a statement saying the company “never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people.” On April 25, it was announced that two Anheuser-Busch marketing executives were on a leave of absence.
“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,” Mulvaney said. “But I’ve always tried to love everyone, you know, even the people who make it really, really hard. 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. Dehumanization has never fixed anything in history, ever.”
Mulvaney continued, “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. 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 wanna share parts of me 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.”
Anheuser-Busch did not immediately respond to Variety‘s request for comment.
The controversy arose as Republican lawmakers continue to propose anti-trans laws across the country that seek to restrict the rights of transgender people, including access to bathrooms, banning gender-affirming healthcare, forcing teachers to out transgender students and restricting drag shows. According to the ACLU, there are currently 469 anti-LGBTQ bills throughout the U.S.
In an interview with Variety in March, Mulvaney shared what she would say to young trans kids in states like Tennessee, where anti-trans bills are especially pervasive.
“I would say you are the bravest person I know of already, and now you are even braver,” she said. “And God forbid you can’t get what you need at this moment, please, I beg of you, whatever that guiding light is that brought you to your true self and your identity, please keep following it.”
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