Dylan Mulvaney, a prominent transgender TikTok star, broke her silence on Thursday regarding her controversial collaboration with Bud Light, addressing the lack of support she received from the company amidst a nationwide backlash.
Mulvaney criticized Bud Light for failing to defend her when the partnership came under fire from right-wing figures, resulting in a boycott and being labeled as an example of companies embracing social activism.
Months after the collaboration with Bud Light sparked outrage among conservative pundits, celebrities, and customers, Mulvaney spoke out in a video, revealing that she never received any communication from the company after she faced personal attacks for promoting their beer.
Expressing her disappointment, Mulvaney stated, “For a company to hire a transgender person and then not publicly stand by them is worse, in my opinion, than not hiring a transgender person at all because it gives customers permission to be as transphobic and hateful as they want.”
Reflecting on the aftermath of the video, Mulvaney revealed that she experienced an overwhelming amount of bullying and transphobia, far beyond what she could have anticipated. She admitted to delaying her response to the controversy out of fear of further backlash and personal guilt for the consequences that unfolded.
Mulvaney shared the distressing impact the situation has had on her life, recounting incidents of being followed, publicly ridiculed, and living in constant fear, which has led to an immense sense of loneliness.
As of today, Anheuser-Busch, the parent company of Bud Light, had not responded to Forbes’ request for comment. However, CEO Brendan Whitworth appeared on CBS Mornings and emphasized that the brand’s focus should be on bringing people together. He avoided directly addressing whether the Mulvaney campaign was a mistake.
Prior to her collaboration with Bud Light, Mulvaney, a former Broadway actress, chronicled her gender transition on TikTok, amassing nearly 11 million followers. She secured partnerships with various brands and made media appearances. On the one-year anniversary of her transition, Mulvaney hosted a live variety show at New York City’s iconic Rainbow Room. In April, Anheuser-Busch joined forces with Mulvaney to create a TikTok video featuring a Bud Light can with her image. This triggered an intense backlash from the far right, with figures like Kid Rock publicly expressing their outrage by shooting cans of Bud Light and vehemently criticizing the company. Shortly thereafter, Mulvaney announced a collaboration with Nike, which further fueled conservative backlash and calls for boycotts, including from Olympic athletes Sharron Davies and Caitlyn Jenner, who is also a transgender woman. In the aftermath of the controversy, Bud Light lost its top spot in the U.S. beer market, with sales of Bud Light and Budweiser plummeting by 24.6% and 9.2% respectively.
In her video, Mulvaney asserted, “One thing I will not tolerate people saying about me is that I don’t like beer. Because I love beer and I always have.”
The Bud Light campaign elicited responses from numerous public figures, who either supported or condemned the brand. Country music star Travis Tritt announced that he would no longer sell Anheuser-Busch products at his concerts, while artist John Rich removed cases of Bud Light from his Nashville bar. Former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly engaged in a discussion about Mulvaney, asserting that it is God who determines a person’s gender.
On the other hand, musicians Jason Isbell, Zach Bryan, and Garth Brooks expressed their support for the partnership.