- Hershey’s is celebrating Women’s History Month with their “Her for She” campaign
- Transgender activist Fae Johnson is one of five women featured in the campaign
- #BoycottHersheys began to trend on Twitter after the ad’s release
Hershey’s is defending activist Fae Johnstone after her appearance in the candy company’s Canadian Women’s History Month campaign caused controversy. The chocolatier chose to feature five empowering women on their limited “Her for She” candy bars, in honor of International Women’s Day on Mar. 8. Among them was Ottawa-based activist, business owner, and trans woman Fae Johnson.
Though many online praised the campaign for its diversity, others voiced anger at the inclusion of a trans woman. Not long after the ad’s debut, #BoycottHersheys began trending on Twitter.
Hershey’s stood by Fae, defending the “Her for She” campaign in a statement to CNN Business. “We value togetherness and recognize the strength created by diversity,” it read.
Want to learn more about Fae Johnson and her campaign for Hershey’s? Read through our five things, right here.
Fae is an LGBTQ & mental health advocate
Hershey’s chose to feature Fae because of her work for the LGBTQ community. She is the executive director of the consulting firm Wisdom2Action, which focuses on LGBTQ+ issues, stopping gender-based violence, mental health advocacy, and more.
Her background is in mental health and she serves as a member of both the Champlain Regional Planning Table for Trans and Gender Diverse Health and the Ontario Youth Suicide Prevention Leadership Committee, according to her website.
In the ad, Fae introduces herself and tells the camera, “We can create a world where everyone is able to live in public space as their honest and authentic selves.” At the end, she tells viewers to “See the women changing how we see the future at Hershey’s Canada” via a voiceover.
She isn’t backing down
Fae wasn’t letting disgruntled candy consumers steal her shine. Sharing the campaign on Twitter, she said, it “means a lot to be included, as a young(ish?) trans woman. I grew up with few trans role models Many young trans folks haven’t met a trans adult. I hope this campaign shows trans girls they can dream big and change the world too.”
After the #BoycottHershey tag began to pick up steam, Fae hit back at the outrage. “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,” she tweeted on Mar. 2. “I’m not going anywhere. I’m not shutting up. I will always stand up for women and girls, cis and trans.”
Hershey’s is defending ‘diversity’
Hershey’s doubled down on their message, offering a statement to the press on Mar. 2. “We value togetherness and recognize the strength created by diversity,” reported CNN Business. “Over the past three years, our Women’s History Month programming has been an inclusive celebration of women and their impact. We appreciate the countless people and meaningful partnerships behind these efforts.”
Through their campaign, Hershey’s has promised to donate up to $10,000 to the five featured organizations, as well as an additional $30,000 to Girl Up, a group that focuses on women’s equity.
The ad features five different woman
Fae isn’t the only world-changing woman in the ad campaign, which Hershey created to “shine a light on women and girls who inspire us every day.”
The “She for Her” chocolates also feature Autumn Peltier, an Indigenous rights and water activist; Naila Moloo, a climate technology researcher; Rita Audi, a gender and education equality activist; and Kélicia Massala, the founder of Girl up Québec.
Anti-trans legislation is on the rise
The backlash against Hershey’s and Fae comes while anti-trans legislation is being introduced across the United States. Mississippi passed a ban on healthcare for trans youth in early March, outlawing the use of puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and surgery on people under the age of 18, as reported by ABC News. Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, South Dakota, and Utah have also put anti-trans policies into law, according to the ACLU.
Meanwhile, Tenessee just passed laws limiting drag performance from public spaces, per NPR, a move which LGBTQ activists warn could be used against the transgender community.
Transgender and gender non-conforming people face more than legal barriers. According to UCLA’s Williams Institute of Law, transgender people are over four times more likely than cisgender people to be victims of violent crimes.