“Days of Girlhood” is fine, you guys are just transphobic

Some thoughts on Dylan Mulvaney’s recent single

Last week, influencer Dylan Mulvaney joined the ranks of so many internet personalities and began her music career, releasing a single called “Days of Girlhood.” You might recognize Mulvaney from the “Day (x) of being a girl!” Tiktok series she has been posting for the past two years documenting her transition as a transgender woman, or from the uproar online when Bud Light partnered with her for a March Madness promotion. But as of late, Mulvaney is receiving a lot of criticism for this song: a bouncy pop piece ostensibly about the joys of being a girl. 

Mulvaney (center) in the music video for “Days of Girlhood.” Photo via Youtube.

Outraged women are calling it a mockery of womanhood, or accusing Mulvaney of reducing women to stereotypes, and on a very surface level, I can see where they’re coming from. Lyrics like, “We have a code-pink emergency,” and “Wednesday, retail therapy/cash or credit, I say yes,” aren’t exactly pioneering the nuance and diversity within female identity. 

However, what people are missing is that this isn’t Mulvaney’s opinion of the essential woman. It’s not a THIS IS WOMANHOOD AND AND FOR ALL, FOREVER, MANIFESTO. If you listened to the words, you would see that it’s a song about Mulvaney’s experience publicly transitioning in her late 20s. It’s about being a trans woman and being the specific trans woman that Dylan Mulvaney is. 

But people don’t hate this song because it’s a one-dimensional depiction of women. They hate it because it’s by a trans woman, and right now America hates to see trans women being happy. The criticism is totally hypocritical because if this was about feminism, the same people would be up in arms about the “girl math” trend, but they aren’t. If you aren’t familiar, “girl math” is a trend where women attribute a lack of financial skill to the fact that they’re a woman: one tweet I saw said, “Girl math is when something is on sale so it’s free.” It’s a fun and funny trend, even though the joke has definite misogynist undertones. But people love it! Mulvaney’s critics have no problem with a hyperbolic, tongue-in-cheek depiction of “stereotypical” femininity, as long as it’s coming from a cis woman. It’s not feminism, it’s transphobia.

My second point is that this song is a fascinating and nuanced take on womanhood that’s being totally overlooked. The transfeminine perspective is so valuable and so important for us cis girls to understand – and it’s clearly about being a trans woman, with lines like “got my dolls by my side” and “girls like me gotta learn the basics/playing catch-up cause we missed the pre-game.” In the transfeminine community, “doll” is popular slang for trans girls, and even the chorus – “these are the days of girlhood” – is a nod to Mulvaney’s Tiktok series documenting her transition. It’s only been two years of “being a girl,” as Mulvaney has referred to her public transition, and this is a song by and about a girl just beginning to enter the whirlpool that is life as a woman.

Dylan Mulvaney, at age 27, is speedrunning the exploration of femininity and girlhood that I got 21 years to flit through. She’s just getting to be a girl for the first time, you guys – leave her alone! We all had a pink phase and a too-cool-for-pink phase. We all stumbled through a million different girls until finding the one we wanted to be. We just got to do it as kids because we identify with the gender we were assigned at birth rather than having to figure it all out as an adult – and one with millions of followers, no less. Dylan Mulvaney is just beginning to dip her toes in the wonderful pool that is womanhood, and it’s absurd to shame her for enjoying it and not having the same perspective as a cis woman her age. Also, sometimes stereotypes are true for individuals!

Stereotypes are harmful when they’re used to dehumanize and control people. They are not a list of actions women aren’t allowed to engage in at the risk of being a “bad woman.” Sometimes it IS all sparkles and shopping and boy toys, and that’s okay! After a summer swept by pink and bows and Barbie, you would think people would have realized that individual female experiences aren’t the problem. The problem is a society that sees anything associated with women as inferior and then puts down anyone who does those things.

“Days of Girlhood” is not misogynistic, tone-deaf, or oppressive. It’s a fun, witty song about the experience of one specific girl, written in the hopes that it’s the unspoken experiences of other women, too. And okay – maybe there’s too much autotune. Dylan Mulvaney has a gorgeous voice, and I wish we got to hear it more. But so does Ariana Grande and we aren’t shitting on her, so reel it back in. We girls have to stick together.

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