It seems we can’t go more than a few days without transphobes on the internet finding something to get pissed off about. And unfortunately for ULTA beauty, which has been trending all morning under the #BoycottULTA, the beauty brand is on TERF’s hit list.
So what could ULTA possibly have done to get the dregs of Twitter and Instagram pissed off at them? They dared to include Tik Tok influencer Dylan Mulvaney in the brand’s latest podcast episode. In the short episode clip the brand released, Mulvaney opened up about her experiences as a trans woman and what it meant to her to be a girl.
The 15-second video was about as inoffensive as a corporate beauty campaign can get. But transphobes still managed to lose their minds, accusing Mulvaney of doing “womanface.”
No seriously, people were comparing a trans woman existing to blackface. For people who maybe know that blackface is wrong but don’t know the whole history, here’s a bit of background.
Minstrel shows, where white actors would darken their skin to “look Black” originated in the early 1800s. These shows, which were incredibly popular among white audiences, often depicted offensive stereotypes of Black slaves. They generally portrayed Black Americans as lazy and stupid and generally content with the system of slavery.
There is nothing remotely comparable about the history of blackface to a trans woman talking about being a girl. It’s not only really transphobic to make that comparison, but it’s also more than a little insensitive to what Black Americans, including Black trans women, have gone through.
Nothing about Mulvaney’s gender identity or how she wants to talk about her experience has anything to do with you. If you are a woman and you do not want to refer to yourself as a girl, don’t call yourself a girl. And if you have a problem with some misogynistic dude calling you that, take it up with him, not some trans woman on the internet just trying to enjoy her life.
Someone calling themselves a girl does not harm you, but fueling harassment of trans women online certainly harms them.
Last year was the deadliest year on record for trans and non-binary individuals, according to Human Rights Watch. Black transgender women, in particular, faced the brunt of that violence. The organization noted in its 2021 report that “dehumanizing rhetoric” contributes to this type of violence.
“Speaking out” against an oppressed minority group does not make you a hero especially when you use the pain of Black Americans to do it. It just makes you a bully.