The Hershey Company, one of the world’s largest producers of chocolate, ignited debate last week with a promotional campaign for International Women’s Day featuring a transgender person.
Fae Johnstone, a biological man who identifies as a woman, was honored by Hershey’s Canada in the “Her for She” marketing material on International Women’s Day.
“See the women changing how we see the future,” the promotional website read. “This International Women’s Day, celebrate the women changing the future in your community.”
In a group video with four other representatives, Johnstone said, “We see the light because the future isn’t fantasy — it’s ours for the taking.”
“We can create a world where everyone is able to live in public space as their honest and authentic selves,” Johnstone continued in a separate solo video recorded for the corporation.
The featuring of a biological male in a promotion for International Women’s Day elicited strong reactions from consumers, with some denouncing the candy company’s decision.
Activist group Women for America First called for a boycott against the company, tweeting, “It’s time to reimagine @Hersheys! Men are not women just like #Hersheys isn’t chocolate.”
Even some members of the LGBT community spoke out against Johnstone’s participation in the advertisements.
Gay Liberation Front and Alliance LGB activist Bev Jackson wrote, “International Women’s Day is for women. Women are not male. If you insist on trying to persuade everyone that some males are women because they say so, you’ll get pushback.”
Another Twitter user claiming to be transgender wrote, “dude. I’m trans. And I get the need for external validation is huge, but really? front and centre of a women’s day launch? its [sic] not very supportive of women, as a whole now, is it?”
Others expressed support, with social media personality Sarah Daniels writing, “Congrats to you!! Thank you for representing us so beautifully.”
In response to the controversy, Oxfam Canada Executive Director Lauren Ravon wrote in a statement, “Oxfam Canada stands in solidarity with our trailblazing board member Fae Johnstone, and all trans folks, who stand up against misogyny and transphobia everyday [sic]. Our feminism is trans inclusive and we are proud to have Fae on our board.”
Johnstone, a self-proclaimed “Queer, trans and feminist activist,” now has their Twitter account locked following backlash to the promotion. Johnstone is the executive director and co-owner of consulting group Wisdom2Action in Canada.
The organization says Johnstone “is an experienced community engagement expert, diversity and inclusion consultant, and project manager. … Fae has led local, provincial, and national initiatives focused on 2SLGBTQ+ community health and wellness, youth mental health, meaningful community engagement, and gender-based violence.”
Johnstone wrote in a now-private Twitter post, “The reaction to my inclusion as a trans woman in Hershey’s Canada’s IWD campaign shows just how far we still have to go in the fight for feminist liberation and trans rights,” according to the Daily Mail.
“I’m not going anywhere. I’m not shutting up. I will always stand up for women and girls, cis and trans,” Johnstone added.
The Dallas Express reached out to Wisdom2Action for comment concerning the controversy but did not receive a response prior to publication.
You can’t fudge the insanity of that marketing.