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Virgin Atlantic faces boycott over Dylan Mulvaney award

Social media users are debating if Virgin Atlantic is going to get the “Bud Light treatment” after naming transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney “Woman of the Year.”

The airline has partnered with British gay magazine Attitude for the Virgin Atlantic Attitude Awards. The ceremony celebrates LGBTQ game changers and allies, with 2023’s winners including American Idol star Jacob Lusk and James Bond singer Shirley Bassey.

The magazine announced the 26-year-old theater actor’s win on X, the social network formerly known as Twitter, on October 11. Replying to the post, Mulvaney said: “Knowing that my community sees me this way and acknowledges my womanhood is all I need to keep going.”

The achievement comes after a difficult year for Mulvaney. In April, a post by the social media star ignited a boycott of Bud Light after the beer brand sent her personalized beer to honor her first full year of living as a woman.

Mulvaney shared a clip of the Bud Light can—adorned with a picture of her face—to her TikTok account, where she has been documenting her transition as part of her Day 365 of Girlhood series. The partnership caused uproar amongst conservatives, including country singer Travis Tritt and rapper Kid Rock, with parent company Anheuser-Busch reporting a decline in Bud Light sales as a result.

After news of Mulvaney’s Woman of the Year win broke on X, users dubbed Virgin Atlantic “the new Bud Light.”

“I’m guessing they’re going to get a little taste of Bud Light,” commented @OculusDiscrim. “Did they not get the memo?”

“@VirginAtlantic I know you couldn’t care less, but I’ll never fly with you again,” said @TheMistressRox.

“BOYCOTT@VirginAtlantic!!!!” wrote Dave Etsy, while @JamboAldo asked: “Is this some kind of sick joke?”

However, others praised Mulvaney and congratulated her on winning the award, with one user, Dylan, calling her an “icon.”

“I’m so sick of seeing people s*** on Dylan Mulvaney every time she does something,” said asterfae. “This woman has done nothing wrong and people still vehemently hate her for being herself.”

Dylan agreed, writing: “Dylan Mulvaney handled some of the most vile transphobia and transmisogyny I’ve ever seen with class and grace that I know for a fact I wouldnt have been able to muster.”

“No one has worked harder at womanhood than Dylan Mulvaney,” said Ann Lesby. “Cope & seethe, TERFS (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists).”

In response to the boycott calls, a Virgin Atlantic spokesperson told Newsweek: “Virgin Atlantic has always championed individuality, creating spaces where our people and customers feel valued and included, regardless of sexuality, gender or ethnicity.

“We are a proud supporter of the LGBTQ+ community, it has been in our DNA since Virgin began advocating for LGBTQ+ rights back in the 1960’s.

“We have supported the Attitude Awards since their first amazing awards event in 2012 and we continue to use the power of our business, our brand and our people to drive change. It is clear that the LGBTQ+ community needs support and allyship now more than ever.”

While accepting her award from British singer Paloma Faith, Mulvaney referenced the Bud Light controversy, describing London as a “safe space” for her.

“When I arrived, I didn’t feel the baggage that I was carrying back at home in the U.S. I didn’t feel like the ‘trans beer girl,'” she told the audience.

“No matter how hard I try, or what I wear, or what surgeries I have, I will never reach an acceptable version of womanhood by those hateful people’s standards. But as long as the queer community sees me for my truth, I’m going to be OK.”

Newsweek has reached out to Virgin Atlantic and Dylan Mulvaney for comment via email.

Update 10/13/23 12:37 a.m. ET: This article has been updated with comment from Virgin Atlantic.

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