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The “Her for She” Campaign: Anti-Trans Backlash and Gender Equity

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at McMaster chapter.

International Women’s Day has just passed; the day was dedicated to celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements and progress of women around the world. Many brands have put out their campaigns to showcase their way of promoting gender equity and raising awareness of women’s achievements. As I was exploring campaigns from some of the major brands, Hershey’s “Her for She” ad stood out in particular due to the amount of backlash it received from the public.

The “Her for She” campaign featured five powerful and fearless Canadian women that have dedicated their time and work, demonstrated activism and made an impact in their communities, but not everyone was happy with the brand’s choices. The #BoycottHersheys quickly spreaded over Twitter in response to the company’s IWD campaign due to the inclusion of a queer, trans, feminist activist, Fae Johnstone. The amount of attack and harassment Fae received online just shows how there is still a long way to go in the fight for gender equity and to end gender-based violence. After digging further on the internet, this is not altogether surprising given the current widespread anti-trans sentiment and the increasing number of anti-trans laws and policies across the U.S. This incident just exposed the dark hidden truth of current modern society, and how there is still a shocking number of people who are ignorant and conservative in this day and age. 

Women who are part of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community face the same concerns as all other women. They are more likely to earn lower incomes, experience discrimination, and encounter barriers in finding and advancing in employment. These women face more complicated issues and additional challenges than that of other women due to their gender and sexual identity. IWD has never been about only cisgender women, and the anti-trans campaign on social media provoked by Hershey’s ad is contrary to the purpose of IWD of combating prejudice against all women, including those of the working class, of different sexual orientations, gender identities and racial backgrounds. The exclusion of trans women from IWD would only push us farther away from recognizing present issues surrounding gender equity and limiting us from advocating for change.  

Returning to Fae Johnstone, she has been a key influencer on issues related to 2SLGBTQIA+ in Canada. She is a member of YWCA Canada’s Board of Directors, an advocate for transgender rights and the abolition of conversion practices. Through her social enterprise and consulting business, Wisdom2Action, she is devoted to ensuring that the 2SLGBTQIA+ community is seen and heard. Her social enterprise provides nonprofits and organizations with strategies to create healthy, equitable, and safe environments. There are many more women similar to Fae who are leaders, the role models for girls and women, and have been constantly dedicating their time and effort in creating change in their communities. Take the time to thank and appreciate all the wonderful women around us and what they have done, listen to their stories, and celebrate their achievements and progress.

Gender equity doesn’t stop here, and IWD shouldn’t be the only time to advocate for change. I encourage everyone to further educate themselves, continue to raise awareness, and support women-focused organizations and charities. The Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity is a great resource to uplift gender and sexual minorities. Egale Canada and Rainbow Health Ontario are also great organizations that work to improve the lives of 2SLGBTQIA+ in Canada. If you are looking for charities to donate to, I recommend Women’s Shelters Canada, The Canadian Women’s Foundation, and Good Shepherd Centres as they provide services and support including but not limited to safe shelters, economic security, escaping violence, and mental health counselling for women and girls.

Many amazing and powerful things can be accomplished when passion and dedication are aligned and put together, and this applies to our fight for gender equity. Let us continue to strive for a future where gender equity is the norm, and with small steps, we can create a brighter, better tomorrow.

Catherine Yu

McMaster '23

Catherine is a fourth-year McMaster student majoring in Kinesiology. Outside of school, she loves to sing, dance, and go on hikes with friends and family! You will often catch her at the candy aisle in the grocery store.