Brands Actually Can and Should Stand Up to Anti-Trans Backlash

Alice Cooper recently lost out on a makeup collaboration with vegan makeup brand Vampyre Cosmetics after calling trans healthcare a “fad” in a recent interview with Stereogum.

The interview dropped last Wednesday, and Vampyre Cosmetics released a statement on Friday stating that they would no longer collaborate with the rocker and that all pre-sales would be refunded. “We stand with all members of the LGBTQIA+ community and believe everyone should have access to healthcare,” the brand wrote in an Instagram post.

The presale had been open since August 14, and the collection consisted of eyeshadow palettes, lipsticks, and a revamp of Cooper’s Whiplash mascara, described on his website as a unisex product. Vampyre Cosmetics, meanwhile, is a woman-owned, disabled-owned, and LGBTQ+-owned brand, per its website, so it makes complete sense that they dropped the Cooper partnership.

Yes, of course, there’s the obvious irony of the fact that a cis man who rose to fame at least in part because of his defiance of gender roles saying that transness can be “so confusing to a kid." But ultimately, is that really surprising for an old cis white man who has said that rock should be “anti-political” and who’s buddies with Ted Nugent, a right-wing rocker who says that systemic racism doesn’t exist? As culture writer Niko Stratis wrote in a recent op-ed for Paste Magazine, Cooper and his ilk “are vaudeville and drama in corpse paint and high heels and those things are not glove slaps across the bow of gender, they are marketing.” “And we need to stop being surprised when the marketing doesn’t match the idea,” she added.

The really interesting part of the story is the part where Cooper actually faced consequences for saying transphobic things, an outcome that is, unfortunately, somewhat rare these days. As we’ve covered extensively at Them, this year has largely been characterized by brands capitulating to right-wing hate campaigns, shelving Pride merch, and reportedly banning rainbow flags. Forget the halcyon days of 2016, when major corporations boycotted North Carolina over its transphobic bathroom bill, and when Target spent $20 million on single-stall bathrooms in alignment with its trans-inclusive bathroom policy. Now, even when brands use LGBTQ+ people in an attempt to seem “inclusive,” those brand ambassadors or collaborators may be left for the vultures when the right wing comes calling.

The most obvious example is influencer Dylan Mulvaney, who caught hell from conservatives after partnering with Bud Light for an Instagram video earlier this year. She’s claimed that even though the harassment got to the point of her being followed and ridiculed in public, Bud Light never reached out to her, an outcome that she said was “worse… than not hiring a trans person at all.”

She made reference to the controversy while accepting the award for Breakout Creator at the 2023 Streamy Awards.

It’s not as if corporations like Target and Anheuser-Busch have much to lose from providing the bare minimum of support for LGBTQ+ people. An independent brand like Vampyre Cosmetics, however, faces way more potential fallout, especially since dropping the collaboration with Cooper likely means the loss of a major source of revenue. But again, it makes sense — the makeup brand is proudly LGBTQ+ owned, whereas the community only became demographics worth marketing to for most multinational corporations relatively recently. (And even then, only a small, “respectable” sliver of queer and trans people were deemed worth marketing to anyway.)

All of this is to say that while huge corporations will never be and never were our “friends,” Vampyre Cosmetics standing up for what’s right is absolutely worth commending. At a time when support for LGBTQ+ (especially trans) people is losing the cultural cachet it once had, it’s worth emphasizing at every possible opportunity that transphobes losing out on brand deals is the right thing to do.

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Originally Appeared on them.