By Grace Hogsten
Elm Copy Editor
Since her rise to fame, transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney has been the target of multiple online hate campaigns. In addition to attacking Mulvaney personally, many social media users boycotted brands associated with her, causing a never-ending cycle of controversy surrounding Mulvaney’s internet presence. In March of 2022, Mulvaney posted a video to her TikTok page titled “Day 1 of Being a Girl,” in which she playfully recounted the events of her first day since publicly coming out. The video went viral instantly, and Mulvaney’s popular series, “Days of Girlhood,” was born.
Over the next year, Mulvaney posted at least one TikTok video almost every day documenting her transition. Mulvaney’s videos were similar to those of a typical lifestyle influencer; she showcased her outfits, did her makeup, and told stories about her acting career.
However, Mulvaney experienced her first controversy less than a month into her viral series. In a TikTok video, Mulvaney recounted an experience where a woman asked her for a tampon in a public restroom.
“In that moment, I decided, you know what, I’m always going to have one on hand for anyone who needs it,” Mulvaney said. According to Snopes, Twitter user Oli London posted screenshots from a TikTok video of Mulvaney holding a box of tampons, and wrote that Tampax was paying Mulvaney thousands of dollars to promote the company. Almost immediately, Tampax tweeted that the company had not sponsored Mulvaney, and she later confirmed in a TikTok video that she had never been paid to advertise feminine hygiene products by Tampax or any other company.
“The most that happened was [Tampax] sent me a few boxes of tampons back in April in case I bumped into anyone,” Mulvaney said.
Despite the barrage of hate comments directed towards her on Twitter and TikTok, Mulvaney continued to post videos and publicly celebrated milestones in her transition.
She also had the opportunity to interview President Joe Biden about transgender healthcare, according to CNN. With the uptick in anti-transgender bans, this opportunity allowed Mulvaney to advocate for transgender rights and bring attention to this ever-changing issue.
Shortly after the anniversary of her “Days of Girlhood” series, Mulvaney experienced her latest, and perhaps most widespread, hate campaign. According to CBS, Mulvaney posted a sponsored video on Instagram for Bud Light in which she briefly showed a novelty can with her face printed on it.
Many were outraged by this post and called for a boycott of Bud Light while posting videos of themselves pouring out cans of Bud Light or shooting them, according to NPR. This boycott caused Bud Light to lose its spot as America’s top selling beer for the first time in 20 years.
“To me, it seemed kind of silly,” Encouraging Respect of Sexualities (EROS) President junior Noelle Punte said. “Conservatives got riled up over what, a trans person appearing in, what was it, one ad?”
After receiving so much hate, Mulvaney took a brief hiatus from posting online. A few months later, Mulvaney posted a video on TikTok revealing that Bud Light never reached back out to her, despite the threats, insults, and bigotry she received.
“For a company to hire a trans person and then not stand by them is worse, in my opinion, than not hiring a trans person at all,” Mulvaney said. “It gives customers permission to be as transphobic and hateful as they want, and the hate doesn’t end with me.”
Without the support that she needed, Mulvaney felt responsible for the targeted online attacks. Like so many other queer people around the world, she felt isolated and feared for her safety.
“For months now, I’ve been scared to leave my house, I’ve been ridiculed in public, I’ve been followed, and I have felt a loneliness I would not wish on anyone,” Mulvaney said. “If this is my experience from a very privileged perspective, know that it is so much, much worse for other trans people.”
Bias Education Response Team (BERT) student representative sophomore Anyssya Axtman-Fayrchyld was “not surprised” by the controversy surrounding Mulvaney.
“A queer person partners with [a] corporation, massive backlash [ensues,]…and then the corporation doesn’t reach out for any follow up,” Axtman-Fayrchyld said.
Following the string of controversies, Mulvaney continues to post content across her social media pages, but she no longer posts daily updates. Some of her recent posts show her dressing up for red carpet events, attending the Human Rights Campaign’s summit for transgender creators, and celebrating the onset of “spooky season.”
Despite the hatred, Mulvaney prevails, and many of her avid followers love her content and look up to her.
“You are such an inspiration – thank you for sharing your authenticity with the world even when it’s inconvenient – thank you for being you,” Instagram user @dellara said on one of Mulvaney’s posts.