Conservatives called for a boycott of Hershey's candy after the American chocolate manufacturerer featured a transgender woman as part of Canada's campaign to celebrate International Women's Day on March 8.
The Hershey Company featured five limited edition “HER for SHE” candy bars–one of which featured feminist and transgender activist Fae Johnstone.
Johnstone is a co-owner and executive director of Wisdom2Action–a Canadian social enterprise and consulting firm specializing in community engagement, creative facilitation, research and evaluation, knowledge mobilization and equity, diversity and inclusion.
On Wednesday, the 27-year-old enthusiastically tweeted:
"The chocolate's out of the wrapper!"
"Honoured to be featured in this campaign by @Hersheys Canada for #InternationalWomensDay alongside 4 brilliant sisters and change-makers."
In a voiceover accompanying the clip, the LGBTQ+ advocate narrated:
"We can create a world where everyone is able to live in a public space as their honest and authentic self."
The brief video showed them presenting the candy bar packaged with an image bearing their likeness and playfully engaging with a number of other young women.
It ended with them encouraging people to:
"See the women changing how we see the future at Hershey's Canada."
The overall response was positive with many social media users congratulating Johnstone's announcment.
Unfortunately transphobes weren't on board with the campaign.
The loudest of the bunch were right-wing conservatives, who collectively pushed the hashtag #BoycottHershey to trend online and sparked heated debates about gender identity and transgender rights.
Hershey's responded to the uproar with a statement obtained by MarketWatch.
“We value togetherness and recognize the strength created by diversity," said a Hershey's spokesperson.
"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.”
Johnstone also weighed in on conservatives raising a fuss and indicated there was still a long way to go in the fight for inclusion and equality for the LGBTQ+ community.
"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," tweeted Johnstone.
Their string of posts continued with Johnstone reiterating:
"I’m not going anywhere. I’m not shutting up. I will always stand up for women and girls, cis and trans."
Hershey's campaign featuring Johnstone came as South Dakota's GOP Governor, Kristi Noem, signed a new law banning gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth—doctor monitored and parent approved healthcare.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and ACLU South Dakota said in a joint statement the signing of the misnomered "Help Not Harm” bill was:
"a heartbreaking and tragic day for thousands of South Dakotans and their families."
However, the non-profit organization–which was founded on a mission to defend and preserve the individual rights of all Americans–maintained the fight for trans youth to receive the love, care and support they need was far from over.
"As much as Governor Noem wants to force these young people to live a lie, we know they are strong enough to live their truth, and we will always fight for communities and policies that protect their freedom to do so.”
The signing of the anti-trans law followed a similar ban passed in Utah last month and other Christian nationalist sponsored bills across the United States.