'I have never been targeted so specifically': Trans activist blasts Trump campaign’s 'bully-like' ad
Former President Donald Trump's 2024 campaign team ran a new ad last month containing footage of transgender TikTokers, James Rose and Dylan Mulvaney — and without their knowledge, Rolling Stone reports.
Per Rolling Stone, James was heading to rehearsal for an upcoming performance when "her phone began to blow up with texts" alerting her of the ad, which also contained "stark images of war, crime, and nuclear explosions — all threats the ad says can only be stopped by Trump."
James shared a video in response to the Trump ad via Instagram last month, writing, "Trump used me & Dylan in his latest ad for his presidential campaign. Let this be fodder to fight harder for trans rights. I don't know what this election season will bring but I know I will love our community as hard as possible."
Still, James told Rolling Stone, "The beauty of not having a monolithic community is that there are so many ways to be trans and not one is more right than the other. What the ad reaffirmed for me is that my joy is working. And I use joy as an act of political resistance. If I have somehow become a threat to the 45th President of the United States, I must be doing something right."
The publication interviewed Rose about the impact of the ad.
Rolling Stone: What were some of the emotions going through your head once you saw the ad?
James: I was able to laugh within 24 hours about it, which is, I think, a good turnaround time, but unfortunately, I've had a lot of practice. This is not my first time being targeted by influential people on the right, but I have never been targeted so specifically by somebody of such high power — unpredictable, bully-like power — before. My first thought was the safety of myself and the people around me. And then the second thing I said was 'God, I can't wait to laugh about this. At some point I'm gonna get to the point where this is funny.'
Rolling Stone: With the ongoing political focus on trans issues, were you surprised to see your image being used by the former President? What do you think the purpose of the ad was?
James: This was a moment of trans joy between me and my friend Dylan. And for somebody to weaponize that moment felt very intentional. It is very important to see people who are young and new to their transition celebrating their transness, especially publicly when there is such ridicule, and Donald Trump and his team were using that. The rest of the video was stock images of war and then, James and Dylan are the next villains. That was intentional and dangerous because it emboldens people to continue to target and attack transgender people.
Rolling Stone: How did Dylan take the ad? Were you two able to commiserate?
James: Yes, we have this saying, 'Protect your peace.' I always tell her I love her and she’s always wonderfully supportive. At the end of the day, all we have is community. We look similar but we are different people with different hurdles that we’re facing right now. She has my support and I have her support.
We had a friendship before we started really taking off online and I'm grateful for that. But I have talked to her and I'm grateful for her friendship and for her support. She sent me a picture of her in her author era and I sent her a picture of me on a kayak and we were like 'We're gonna get through this.'
Watch the video below or at this link.
Rolling Stone's full report is available at this link (subscription required).
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