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Rise of Anti-Trans Rhetoric in America: Bud Light Face Blacklash From Right-Wing Customers

Bud Light sponsored a transgender influencer and right-wing consumers are not happy.

Dylan Mulvaney and Bud Light beer. Credit: Shutterstock / Ovidiu Hrubaru (left) and monticello (right)

Bud Light recently partnered with transgender TikTok star Dylan Mulvaney, inciting backlash from right-wing media. Nevertheless, the company promises to continue reaching out to diverse groups of people.

Who is Dylan?

Dylan Mulvaney, 26, is an actor, TikTok influencer, and trans rights activist living in Los Angeles, California. Mulvaney uses both she/her and they/them pronouns and, together on Instagram and TikTok, has about 12.5 million followers.

She sprang to popularity on TikTok with her series “Days of Girlhood”, which she started in March 2022. As suggested by the title, the series documents Mulvaney’s transition journey, which reached the 1-year mark on March 13, 2023.

To celebrate 365 Days of Girlhood, Mulvaney hosted a cabaret show at the legendary Rainbow Room in New York. Of course, the show featured many queer stars, while also raising funds for the Trevor Project.

During the show, Mulvaney made sure to address anti-trans rhetoric and backlash she has received. In doing so, she showed a compilation video of people misgendering and attacking her online while the audience booed.

“I think we’ve established that I really like to talk. So I don’t think they’re gonna have the best luck silencing me.”

Dylan Mulvaney, Day 365 Live!
Dylan Mulvaney attending Day 365 Live! at Rainbow Room. Credit: Shutterstock / lev radin

Bud Light Sponsorship

Bud Light joined in the celebration of Mulvaney’s first year of girlhood by sending her a can of beer with her face on it.

Bud Light is owned by Anheuser-Busch, a major beer company that also owns Budweiser, Michelob Ultra, Stella Artois, and more.

Since Mulvaney’s post on April 1, Bud Light has remained silent on social media, not sharing posts on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook since then. In such a way, this silence could be seen as Bud Light being “spooked” by the criticism of their sponsorship.

However, a spokesperson for Bud Light commented: “Anheuser-Busch works with hundreds of influencers across our brands as one of many ways to authentically connect with audiences across various demographics. From time to time we produce unique commemorative cans for fans and for brand influencers, like Dylan Mulvaney.”

Before the Sponsorship

Since the start of her transition, Mulvaney has been a target of right-wing attacks. Last October, after Mulvaney was selected to meet President Joe Biden, Senator Marsha Blackburn tweeted, “Dylan Mulvaney, Joe Biden, and radical left-wing lunatics want to make this absurdity normal.”

Caitlin Jenner, who is also a transgender woman, tweeted in response to Blackburn, “Thank you for speaking out and having a backbone — one of the best senators we have. Let’s not ‘normalize’ any of what this person is doing. This is absurdity!”

Additionally, conservative figures like Ben Shapiro and Matt Walsh often comment on Mulvaney, referring to her using he/him pronouns.

“At first, I really took it as, ‘Oh, these people are giving me constructive criticism. Let me listen to them. Let me plead with them. Let me over explain myself. Let me see if we can find some common ground’. “And I’ve now realized that those things are not constructive. They’re pure hatred.”

Dylan Mulvaney on right-wing criticism

After the Sponsorship

Unfortunately, Mulvaney’s connection to Bud Light only increased the criticism she receives. Most prominently, Kid Rock shared a video of himself shooting Bud Light cans while wearing a MAGA hat. In the video, he says, “F— Bud Light and f— Anheuser-Busch. Have a terrific day.”

Additionally, on social media, videos of people replacing Bud Light with Coors are trending. Coors Light, however, is also a supporter of LGBTQ+ rights, sponsoring the Pride Parade and Denver PrideFest for almost two decades.

Wider Implications

The anti-trans rhetoric about Dylan Mulvaney comes at a time when Republican lawmakers are targeting transgender people. In fact, the American Civil Liberties Union recorded 451 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced this year. Many of the bills seek to ban gender-affirming care and limit education on LGBTQ topics.

Responses to Mulvaney are only the latest in the stream of anti-trans rhetoric in America. As seen above, right-wing critics are utilizing the recent shooting in Nashville to villainize transgender people. Never mind that the majority of mass shootings are committed by cis straight white men.

On a brighter note, many major brands are partnering with transgender influencers, showing no signs of slowing down. Hornet, the leading gay social network site outside the US, conducted a study analyzing the efficacy of LGBTQ ads. They found that, compared to generic ads, queer-inclusive ads help consumers remember brands better, inspire higher-priced purchases, and foster a more progressive company image.

Considering all of this, the controversy over Mulvaney only highlights the increase of anti-trans rhetoric in America. And, hopefully, does not discourage brands from continuing to sponsor queer influencers.

Written By

hi! i'm nic (she/they) and i am a second year english lit major at the university of san francisco! i enjoy writing about queer topics, social issues, and fashion :)


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