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Dylan Mulvaney says Bud Light’s backlash response was ‘worse than not hiring a trans person at all’

<i>Dominik Bindl/Getty Images</i><br/>Dylan Mulvaney seen here on June 11
Dominik Bindl/Getty Images
Dylan Mulvaney seen here on June 11

By Clare Duffy, CNN

New York (CNN) — Dylan Mulvaney on Thursday broke her silence about the fallout that occurred after the trans influencer made two Instagram posts sponsored by Bud Light earlier this year.

Bud Light’s sponsorship of an April 1 Instagram post by Mulvaney set off a firestorm of anti-trans backlash and calls for a boycott. Mulvaney herself also faced a wave of hate and violent threats.

Now, in a video posted to Instagram Thursday, Mulvaney is calling on Bud Light and other companies not only to work with trans and other queer influencers, but to support them through the process, even as trans rights are under fire across the country and corporations face anti-LGBTQ+ campaigns.

Mulvaney said she has “been scared to leave my house, and I have been ridiculed in public, I have been followed,” and she criticized Bud Light for not standing by her and the partnership. She said the company never reached out to her in the wake of the backlash.

“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,” Mulvaney said. “And the hate doesn’t end with me, it has serious and grave consequences for the rest of our community.”

When the backlash ignited in April, Bud Light first responded with a straightforward explanation of its relationship with social media influencers like Mulvaney. But later it released a vague statement from the CEO that failed to offer support for Mulvaney or the trans community. Bud Light sales dropped in the ensuing weeks, the company lost its top rating from a major LGBTQ+ nonprofit and it placed two marketing executives on leave.

The controversy over the sponsored posts came as trans rights are under attack. Over 400 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced in state legislatures this year through April 3, according to American Civil Liberties Union, including ones restricting access to gender-affirming care for trans youth. Generally, transgender people are more than four times as likely to be victims of violent crime than cisgender people, according to a study from the UCLA School of Law.

The Bud Light backlash also coincided with anti-LGBTQ+ campaigns against other big brands, including Target.

Mulvaney’s statement followed a Wednesday appearance by Brendan Whitworth, CEO of Bud Light owner Anheuser-Busch, on CBS Mornings, in which he repeated the company’s recent statements about wanting to “focus on what we do best, which is brewing great beer for everyone,” and did not directly answer a question about whether the campaign was a mistake.

“I think the conversation surrounding Bud Light has moved away from beer, and the conversation has become divisive, and Bud Light really does not belong there, Bud Light should be about bringing people together,” Whitworth said.

In her video, Mulvaney appeared to address that sentiment, saying, “supporting trans people, it shouldn’t be political.”

“There should be nothing controversial or divisive about working with us, and I know it’s possible because I’ve worked with some fantastic companies who care,” Mulvaney said. “But caring about the LGBTQ+ community requires a lot more than just a donation somewhere during Pride month.”

She added: “We’re customers, too, I know a lot of trans and queer people who love beer.”

In a statement responding to Mulvaney’s video, an Anheuser-Busch spokesperson told CNN on Thursday that, “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. The privacy and safety of our employees and our partners is always our top priority. As we move forward, we will focus on what we do best — brewing great beer for everyone and earning our place in moments that matter to our consumers.”

–CNN’s Danielle Wiener-Bronner contributed to this report.

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