A transgender influencer whose social media promotion of Bud Light drew attacks from conservatives and a boycott of the brand spoke directly about the controversy for the first time on Thursday, saying that she had been bullied and that the beer maker had failed to contact her in light of the hostility.
Since April, when the influencer, Dylan Mulvaney, featured Bud Light in an Instagram video, she has faced stalking and personal attacks, she said in videos she posted on social media.
“What transpired from that video was more bullying and transphobia than I could have ever imagined,” Ms. Mulvaney, 26, said. “I’ve been followed, and I have felt a loneliness that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.”
Throughout the controversy, she continued, Bud Light has not reached out to her. She was scared to leave her home while the company failed to stand by her, she said.
“I was waiting for the brand to reach out to me, but they never did,” she said. “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.”
Anheuser-Busch, the maker of Bud Light, did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday about whether it had tried to contact Ms. Mulvaney since the boycotts.
“As we’ve said, we remain committed to the programs and partnerships we have forged over decades with organizations across a number of communities, including those in the LGBTQ+ community,” a company representative said in an email. “The privacy and safety of our employees and our partners is always our top priority.”
The controversy over Ms. Mulvaney and Bud Light arose as states passed laws that restrict medical care for transgender people; control which bathrooms they can use; and decide whether schools can affirm transgender students’ preferred personal pronouns. Republican state lawmakers have also continued proposing legislation that seeks to regulate young transgender people’s lives and to require schools to out transgender students to their parents.
On April 1, Ms. Mulvaney posted a video on her Instagram account, where she has 1.8 million followers, about a $15,000 giveaway that Bud Light sponsored during March Madness. She also mentioned that the company had 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 included the musician Kid Rock, who posted a video of himself shooting a stack of Bud Light cases.
Bud Light’s 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 nation’s top-selling beer. The brand is still struggling to win back customers.
Bud Light has been criticized by some members of the L.G.B.T.Q. community for its tepid response to the backlash.
But the conservative outburst has spread to brand partnerships that other companies have struck with transgender people. Like Bud Light, the retail company Target shifted its marketing because of opposition to the company’s inclusion of L.G.B.T.Q. communities. The country singer Garth Brooks was criticized when he said at a music event that his new bar in Nashville 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 called “Days of Girlhood.”
Amid the backlash, Ms. Mulvaney has addressed the hostility she has experienced, without responding directly to 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’m struggling to understand is the need to dehumanize and to be cruel.”
In the video on Thursday, Ms. Mulvaney called on companies to go beyond donations and promotional campaigns in supporting the L.G.B.T.Q. community.
“Supporting trans people shouldn’t be political,” she said. “There should be nothing controversial or divisive about working with us.”
John Yoon reports from the Seoul newsroom of The Times. He previously reported for the coronavirus tracking team, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2021. He joined The Times in 2020. @johnjyoon
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