A transgender influencer whose social media promotion of Bud Light led to attacks from conservatives and a boycott of the brand spoke directly about the controversy for the first time on Thursday, saying she had been bullied and the brewer had not contacted her in light of the hostility.
Since April, when the influencer, Dylan Mulvaney, posted Bud Light in an Instagram video, she has faced stalking and personal attacks, she said in videos she posted on social media. She has also been the target of death threats and bomb threats, according to Alejandra Carballo, a transgender rights activist who received these threats against Ms. Mulvaney.
“What that video showed was more bullying and transphobia than I could have ever imagined,” said 26-year-old Ms Mulvaney. “I’ve been followed and I’ve felt a loneliness I wouldn’t wish on anyone.”
During the controversy, she continued, Bud Light has not contacted her. She was afraid to leave her home without the company assisting her, she said.
“I waited for the brand to contact me, but they never did,” she said. “If a company hires a trans person and then doesn’t publicly assist them, in my opinion it’s worse than not hiring a trans person at all.”
Anheuser-Busch, the maker of Bud Light, did not respond Thursday to a request for comment about whether it had tried to contact Ms. Mulvaney since the boycotts.
“As we said, we remain committed to the programs and partnerships we have forged over the past several decades with organizations in a number of communities, including those in the LGBTQ+ community,” a company representative said in an email. “The privacy and security of our employees and our partners is always our top priority.”
The Ms. Mulvaney and Bud Light controversy arose when states passed laws restricting medical care for transgender people; determine which bathrooms they can use; and deciding whether schools can confirm the personal pronouns of transgender students. Republican state legislators have also continued to propose legislation that aims to regulate the lives of young transgender people and require schools to extradite transgender students to their parents.
On April 1, Ms. Mulvaney posted a video to her Instagram account, where she has 1.8 million followers, about a $15,000 giveaway that Bud Light sponsored during March Madness. She also said the company sent her a tallboy can with her face on it to celebrate the 365-day milestone of her public sharing of her transition journey.
Calls for a boycott followed, fueled in part by those who had previously attacked the transgender community. One of the most prominent voices was musician Kid Rock, who posted a video of himself photographing a stack of Bud Light cases.
Bud Light sales plummeted. Since then, two of the company’s marketing executives have gone on leave. The company also said in May that it would focus marketing campaigns on sports and music. This month, Bud Light was dethroned as the country’s top-selling beer. The brand is still struggling to win back customers.
Bud Light has been criticized by some members of the LGBTQ community for its lukewarm response to backlash.
But the conservative outburst has spread to brand partnerships other companies have made with transgender people. Like Bud Light, retail company Target shifted its marketing due to opposition to the company’s inclusion of LGBTQ communities. The country singer Garth Brooks was criticized when he said at a music event that his new Nashville bar would serve many types of beer, including Bud Light.
Ms. Mulvaney is popular on TikTok where she has 10.6 million followers and has documented her transition in a viral series she dubbed ‘Days of Girlhood’.
Amid the backlash, Ms. Mulvaney has addressed the animosity she’s been experiencing, without directly commenting on the Bud Light uproar. She called herself “an easy target” in an interview on a podcast released on April 11 “because I’m still new to this.” She told her TikTok fans on April 28, “What I have a hard time understanding is the need to dehumanize and be cruel.”
In the video on Thursday, Ms. Mulvaney called on businesses to go beyond donations and promotional campaigns to support the LGBTQ community.
“Supporting trans people shouldn’t be political,” she said. “There should be nothing controversial or divisive about working with us.”