Social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney has been bombarded by hateful rhetoric online since she partnered with Bud Light earlier this month, prompting widespread backlash from right-wing, anti-transgender voices.
Now, the 26-year-old TikToker is finally ready to talk about it.
Following a several-week break from social media, Mulvaney reappeared online Thursday to discuss the controversy. Though she did not mention Bud Light by name, Mulvaney, who is transgender, had a clear message for her 10.8 million followers.
“I’m going to try to leave gender out of this, since that’s how we found ourselves here,” Mulvaney started.
She played on her ever-popular “Days of Girlhood” series of videos on TikTok — which sees Mulvaney document her gender transition near-daily — and said she recorded the TikTok on “Day 9610 of being a human.”
“I’ve always tried to love everyone, even the people that make it really, really hard,” Mulvaney said. “It’s OK to be frustrated with someone, or confused, but what I’m struggling to understand is the need to dehumanize and to be cruel.
“Dehumanization has never fixed anything in history, ever.”
Mulvaney said she wants to go back to making people laugh online and to “never stop learning.”
She said she is trying not to share anything about her life online “before I’m ready.” The advice is an echo of encouragement she received from transgender actor Laverne Cox, who met Mulvaney at the Grammys in February and encouraged her to “keep things for yourself.”
Mulvaney joked that if reincarnation exists, she would like to be reincarnated as someone “nonconfrontational and uncontroversial.”
On April 1, Mulvaney partnered with Bud Light as part of a March Madness contest on her Instagram account. The deal, which saw Mulvaney’s face printed on a single signature blue can, sparked numerous calls for LGBTQ2 opposition to destroy their beer stockpiles and potentially boycott the brand entirely.
Musician Kid Rock was among the most notable to criticize Bud Light for the partnership. In video posted to social media, Kid Rock, whose real name is Robert James Ritchie, repeatedly fired an assault rifle at three cases of Bud Light. As beer bled from the bulleted blue boxes, he flipped off the camera and said, “F— Bud Light and f— Anheuser-Busch. Have a terrific day.”
Anheuser-Busch, the company that makes Bud Light, released a statement as sales started to decline amid calls for a boycott.
“We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people. We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer,” wrote Bud Light CEO and Anheuser-Busch owner Brendan Whitworth.
Two Bud Light executives have since taken a leave of absence from the company. Anheuser-Busch has not publicly commented on Mulvaney’s latest TikTok.
The controversy surrounding Mulvaney and Bud Light comes at a time when the rights of transgender people in the U.S. are being called into question. Republican lawmakers across the country have filed legislation seeking to restrict gender-affirming health care for trans folks, among other things. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, there are currently 469 proposed anti-LGBTQ bills in the U.S.
“While not all of these bills will become law, they all cause harm for LGBTQ people,” the organization wrote.