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In a new video, Dylan Mulvaney says Bud Light never reached out to her amid backlash

In a video posted to TikTok and Instagram, trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney described the months of fear and bullying she has encountered amid backlash to her sponsorship from Bud Light.
@dylanmulvaney TikTok
Screenshot by NPR
In a video posted to TikTok and Instagram, trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney described the months of fear and bullying she has encountered amid backlash to her sponsorship from Bud Light.

Updated June 30, 2023 at 8:35 PM ET

In the wake of the backlash over a sponsored Instagram video, trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney says she's been scared to leave her house for months — and Bud Light has never reached out to her to offer support or discuss what happened.

In a video posted Thursday to Instagram and TikTok, Mulvaney directly addressed what had happened for the first time.

"[W]hat transpired from that video was more bullying and transphobia than I could have ever imagined. And I should have made this video months ago, but I didn't," she said. "And I was scared."

Mulvaney said she waited for things to get better. "But surprise! They haven't really. And I was waiting for the brand to reach out to me, but they never did."

"For months now, I've been scared to leave my house. I have been ridiculed in public. I've been followed," she said, choking up. "I have felt a loneliness that I wouldn't wish on anyone. And I'm not telling you this because I want your pity. I am 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."

Mulvaney has more than 10 million followers on TikTok and nearly 2 million on Instagram.

A few months ago, Bud Light sent Mulvaney a special can with her face on it. She posted a sponsored ad on Instagram, wearing a cocktail dress and enjoying a Bud Light as she discussed March Madness. A photo of her personalized can briefly appeared.

All hell broke loose. Conservative politicians including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis criticized the company. People posted videos of themselves pouring out the beer, and Kid Rock posted one showing him shooting cases of Bud Light with a gun.

Bud Light, an Anheuser-Busch brand, had been America's best-selling beer for more than two decades. But following outcry from the right over Mulvaney's sponsored video, Bud Light has fallen to second place behind Modelo Especial. Bud Light sales volume dropped 29% in the four-week period ending in mid-June from a year earlier.

In April, Anheuser-Busch put out a vague message that offered no clear support of Mulvaney or the LGBTQ+ community. "We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people. We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer," CEO Brendan Whitworth said in the statement.

In a statement to NPR on Friday, an Anheuser-Busch spokesperson said the company 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. The privacy and safety of our employees and our partners is always our top priority."

Mulvaney suggests that the company's choices endanger the LGBTQ+ community.

"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," she said. "And the hate doesn't end with me. It has serious and grave consequences for the rest of our community." She closed by encouraging people to donate to the Transgender Law Center.

At the start of the video, Mulvaney sipped beer from a glass. "One thing I will not tolerate people saying about me is that I don't like beer," she said. "Because I love beer and I always have."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Laurel Wamsley is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She reports breaking news for NPR's digital coverage, newscasts, and news magazines, as well as occasional features. She was also the lead reporter for NPR's coverage of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.