The tale of transgender people in the United States is not one that is spoken about with pride—there is no pride in the fact that, historically, transgender prisoners are over nine times more likely than the prison average to be assaulted by fellow inmates, nor the fact that 2022 has already seen the deaths of at least 14 transgender people.
Though these horrific events cannot be undone, normalizing transitions and destigmatizing some of the conjured beliefs about the transgender community have certainly had their impact on preventing further instances. Dylan Mulvaney, 25, is one of the individuals serving as a role model for many—to those thinking of transitioning, she serves as a beacon of positivity and knowledge in a world that can often be filled with frustration.
“I didn’t have that open and vulnerable creator, or role model growing up,” Mulvaney said.
“Four-year-old, eight-year-old, 15-year-old Dylan, they didn’t have a ‘me’ to go on TikTok… But I want to be that for my younger self. I just hope that people can find confidence and joy through my videos and can begin to adapt some of the things that I’m doing that make me happy and, maybe, it might make them happy too,” she continued.
Mulvaney—like so many other LGBTQ+ creators—found her voice on TikTok. After beginning to document her transition into ‘girlhood,’ she experienced an explosion in popularity that left behind a significant following in its wake. As Mulvaney quickly approaches the 100th-day mark of her “Days of Girlhood” series, she can only sit in reflection on the milestone and other accolades she has earned along the way.
In specific, she snatched a place among TikTok’s 2022 LGBTQ+ “Trailblazers:” a new generation of creators that utilize their passion and stories to drive awareness of important causes, as well as embrace individuals’ own journeys. Alongside Mulvaney are 11 other LGBTQ+ creators, though she notes another impactful person would be Emira D’Spain who was featured in TikTok’s Transgender Day of Visibility list.
“I struggled for so long, in having the entertainment industry accept me and have a place for me… now, because the internet and all these followers have decided to love me, it’s creating these opportunities that I didn’t have before,” Mulvaney said. “When you’re scrolling through my page, that is all of my creation; TikTok is a prime example of who you are, and what you want to share.”
Mulvaney grew up a “theater kid,” eventually attending the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music for musical theater. However, she soon realized that the theater industry was incredibly gendered when she began picking up professional roles and auditioning for TV in San Diego. Simply put, they would only cast Mulvaney in male roles and the industry gave her little wiggle room to expand into feminine ones. As she reflected, “I put so much of my own identity away just so that I could have opportunities in my industry.”
Mulvaney’s 2020 tour with the Broadway musical The Book of Mormon was brought to a globally familiar halt—the pandemic had struck. However, COVID provided a crucial moment in her life, as she was finally able to look inside herself—in her solitude—and speak to what she had experienced throughout her life.
“That [during the pandemic] was the first moment since I was a child that I really got to ask myself like Dylan, like, ‘Who are you without acting and without playing a boy part?’” she said. “I started asking myself those tough questions that I don’t think I would even have found the answers to today had the pandemic not happened.”
Her biggest hit on TikTok, thus far, has been her “Days of Girlhood” series, which documents the details—the best and worst—of her journey whilst transitioning into a transgender woman. Mulvaney is now on day 82 of publicly sharing her path, but she began transitioning before the series. Before going public, she had already been on hormones and was identifying as non-binary for quite some time to her friends and family members.
Day 73- someone’s daughter #trans
A lot of questions have been raised by Mulvaney’s viewers on why she titled the series “Days of Girlhood” rather than “Days of Womanhood.” She broke it down—once again—for those who may not be familiar with her story.
“I didn’t get to have girlhood growing up on time as everyone else, and I’m now learning all the things that little girls got to learn so long ago,” Mulvaney explained. “I am going through many of the experiences of a child or a young adult, and that’s why I don’t feel really guilty about calling it that.”
Mulvaney will undoubtedly continue to make her mark on the LGBTQ+ world, and fans can catch her celebrating her first pride festival after beginning to transition on June 12. “I’m going to be on a float and waving to people and I have all these campaigns… it’s been really special,” she said excitedly.
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