For months now, trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney has been subjected to some of the nastiest harassment and attacks of the internet era—all for merely being trans and helping to promote a beer brand back in April. As Bud Light became the next frontier of the right’s batshit, anti-trans culture war, Mulvaney said in a video Thursday that her life was upended by the hate she received, which has included “more bullying and transphobia than I could have ever imagined” and left her “scared to leave my house.”
And she’s apparently received no support whatsoever from the company that propelled her into the spotlight.
“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—because it gives customers permission to be as transphobic and hateful as they want,” Mulvaney said, without naming Bud Light specifically. She continued, “I’m not telling you this because I want your pity. I’m 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.”
The influencer explained that she waited to talk about her experience because she hoped the situation would improve, or the company might express public support for her. Neither happened, and the deluge of right-wing threats and attacks targeting Mulvaney only continues to escalate.
The hate campaign against her began shortly after Mulvaney shared a video promoting Bud Light featuring a can of the beer with her face on it on April 1. Soon after, right-wing influencers and Kid Rock began sharing videos of themselves shooting Bud Light cans to protest the company’s collaboration with Mulvaney. In response, on April 14, parent company Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth shared a statement essentially apologizing for the collaboration, saying the company “never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people.”
In essence, since the controversy around Bud Light took off, the company has prioritized the transphobes outraged by a video of a trans woman drinking beer. With its April 14 statement, Bud Light issued a public white flag to conservatives—all while Mulvaney claims in her Thursday video that no one at the company has reached out to check on her privately.
Now that Mulvaney’s shared her side of the story, the optics of the entire situation suddenly look very different. What started as an opportunity for a major brand to show support to trans communities at a time of escalating political attacks has instead fizzled into a textbook case of rainbow capitalism. It’s clear Bud Light, a beer company primarily associated with football and bro-ing out, saw a partnership with Mulvaney as an entryway to reach more queer and progressive consumers. And it probably worked! But once a right-wing harassment campaign that the company was very clearly not equipped to handle caught fire, Bud Light unceremoniously threw the influencer under the bus.
Bud Light has shared a statement seemingly responding to Mulvaney’s video, claiming that it “[remains] committed to the programs and partnerships we have forged over decades with organizations across a number of communities, including those in the LGBTQ+ community” and that the “safety” of its partners (such as Mulvaney) “is always our top priority.” But the brand neglected to specify anything that’s being done to support her.
Mulvaney, and all trans people, deserve better than this bullshit.