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Your Transphobia Is Showing: The Ulta & Dylan Mulvaney Controversy

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at VCU chapter.

Trigger warning: This article contains discussions about transphobia and suicide.

If you have a TikTok account, you have probably seen one of the most wholesome humans to grace our planet, Dylan Mulvaney. However, she has recently landed in hot water after Ulta invited her to be on the company’s podcast, “The Beauty Of…” This podcast covers a range of issues, such as fatness and power. The podcast description states that David Lopez, a gender-fluid hairdresser and host, will delve into nontraditional beauty topics with their guests.

The episode that Dylan was a part of discusses the beauty of girlhood. Many people were enraged because Dylan is a 25-year-old transgender woman who started transitioning this year. Some TikTokers made videos stating that they are not transphobic but contradict themselves by saying that Dylan has no right to speak on girlhood or womanhood. I ask these individuals to reflect on themselves and think critically.

However, it is not only performative liberal allies that welcomed Dylan as long as she was not taking up their space but also your typical bigoted Fox News-type individuals. Riley Gaines, a former University of Kentucky swimmer, was invited on Fox News to talk with Tucker Carlson about Dylan’s conversation with Joe Biden and the Ulta podcast. Gaines compares being transgender to black-face and calls it a mental disorder while simultaneously misgendering Dylan. Caitlyn Jenner, a transgender woman, has also been attacking Dylan for not getting bottom surgery and instituting that trans individuals that do not get surgery are not valid.

As a cisgender woman, I find all of this behavior deplorable. Transgender women will always be real women. They deserve to be in the same spaces as cisgender women and absolutely can speak on girlhood. I applaud Ulta for not backing down from their decision to have Dylan on their podcast. 

Additionally, the Ulta boycott seems unsuccessful because the company’s stock still looks pretty good. Additionally, the podcast has created a lot of dialogue. While some of this dialogue may be bigoted, I feel like dialogue from other trans content creators has allowed people to educate themselves more.

Transgender individuals are not trinkets for you to support conditionally and showcase your performative activism. Transgender individuals are humans that deserve love and respect unconditionally. People who state that the issues that the trans community face are minuscule in comparison to what is going on in the world are delusional. Just because you cannot relate to these issues and believe there are bigger fish to fry does not invalidate the life-threatening problems that the trans community face. 

Every single day, new laws are coming out repressing trans identities. For instance, the governor of Virginia has recently outlined some horrific policies to attack trans youth. While some might not think these model policies are heinous, these actions will have terrible consequences. Trans youth have high suicide rates. 82% of the population have contemplated suicide once and 40% have attempted suicide once. People are murdering trans women of color at exponentially high rates. To conclude this article, I would like to say that the issues that the trans community faces matter. Learning about and educating yourself on these issues is imperative.

Kaitlyn Austin is an alumnus of Virginia Commonwealth University, with a bachelor's in political science with a concentration in civil rights. She is passionate about social justice, advocacy, and astrology.