TikTok saw Dylan Mulvaney become a woman one day at a time
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During the pandemic, Dylan Mulvaney started making content on ICT Tac— videos with animals or of her singing — and her posts have regularly racked up a few hundred thousand views. But it was as a transgender woman that she came out to her TikTok audience in March, which catapulted her followers into the millions.
Mulvaney is a 25-year-old professional actress and comedian from San Diego who lives in West Hollywood, California. After his initials announcement in March, she began a series she dubbed “Days of Girlhood” that cataloged each day during the early stages of her transition. She talked about why she decided against the change of its name and its live with hormone replacement therapy. She mostly shared highs, including day 54 when she was crown the “diamond of the season” at The Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experiencea Regency-era themed show that immerses viewers in the world of Netflix Bridgerton.
She also shared lows, such as Day 71 when an Uber driver made him feel uncomfortable as she climbed into her backseat. Daily updates filled with optimism, sensitivity and humor have drawn Mulvaney to 7.3 million viewers and endorsement deals with companies including CeraVe, MAC, Neutrogena and Kate Spade.
Today is Mulvaney’s 183rd day as a girl. Since her 100th day, Mulvaney has slowed down the release of her “Days of Girlhood” series and continues to create other content regularly. Mulvaney’s virality – with some videos at over 20 million views – is helping to advance trans visibility and acceptance in a world filled with hate and violence against the LGBTQ community. still exists. Rachyl Jones of The Observer spoke to Mulvaney about her transition and TikTok fame.
How did you start online?
When the pandemic hit, I was doing the Broadway musical Book of Mormon. I found myself without a job and without the creative means to do what I loved. I downloaded TikTok, assuming it was a kids app. Once I came out as a woman, I made this comedic “day one of being a girl” video. And it exploded. I really don’t know of any other place online like TikTok that can grow a creator at the rate they do. Some of these other apps really celebrate perfection, over-editing, and perfection. I think with TikTok in particular, people like brutality. They like people who just talk to the camera. I try to approach every video like a FaceTime with a friend.
Why did you decide to have such a public transition?
Because I had never seen a trans person start on day one. I saw all these amazing trans women and I was very intimidated because I wanted to be like them but I didn’t know how. I decided to [make the series] for every future trans person and current trans people who need answers. And I also try to approach everything with empathy and comedy. I think that really set me apart from some of the other trans creators on the app, because I try to show the trans joy and not only the difficulties of the transition.
Your videos went viral pretty quickly and they reached audiences outside of the LGBTQ community. Why do you think there was such interest in these “Days of Girlhood” videos?
Because even non-trans people felt like they were part of the conversation. They felt welcome on the journey. My content is for everyone. It’s not just for women or trans or queer people. I want to be the person to bring these stories to the mainstream, because there’s still a lot to do with mainstream trans visibility. I knew I had to share my story. I was emotionally well placed and I had the necessary skills with my experience as an interpreter.
How did you start monetizing your content?
I hopped online just before Pride month, so a lot of the initial offerings were tailored to my queerness and transness. For some of these big companies, I was actually their first trans creator. It’s exciting to earn money to support myself since I lost my job and have my bridging surgeries covered as well.
Can you tell me more?
I knew there was an option for me to try and raise these funds publicly through a GoFundMe campaign, but I wanted to reserve that space for other trans people on the platform who don’t have the [advertising] opportunities I have. I made a video saying, “Hey everyone, I’m going to be doing commercials this month. Just know that it happens. And if you could, you know, support that. This is how I wanted people to support me rather than giving me money directly. I was able to raise a lot of money. It helped pay for my insurance, which covers my hormones. And it was just a real gift. Because right before I started creating content with “Days of Girlhood,” I was like, “What am I going to do to pay my rent this month? »
How much does the transition cost?
It will always be expensive to try to align with binary. Even though I consider myself a trans woman, I just want to call myself a woman. I want to be seen as a woman. I can’t really speak to the transition to menswear, but when it comes to womenswear, women’s clothing is more expensive than men’s. Now I have hair products and makeup. And those are all non-gender defining things, but they’ve really helped me in my euphoria. When it comes to these procedures, they can be very expensive, especially if you don’t want to wait years to get through insurance hoops, you often pay out of pocket.
How would your transition have been different if you didn’t have your social media presence and ad money?
Well, that would have taken a lot longer. And it would have been more taxing financially and emotionally. I think of all the trans people who have to wait years to save these payments. In fact, one of my dreams in life – you know how there are hen parties and baby showers? I want to do trans showers for new trans people when they come out. You give them clothes they’ve always wanted and starter kits, or maybe a down payment for an operation.
What’s next for you?
Oh my God, we have a lot of work going on. I’m thinking of presenting a talk show and writing books. I will definitely continue to create content, maybe not quite on a daily basis. It only looks like the beginning. I feel like I’m creating a lifelong relationship with my followers.
This interview was originally published in The Creators, a newsletter about the people who power the creator economy. Get it in your inbox before it goes live.