An Ottawa-based transgender rights advocate says she's "not going anywhere" after facing a barrage of online harassment for her role in a Hershey Canada campaign for International Women's Day.
Fae Johnstone, a 27-year-old trans woman, was one of five women featured on limited-edition chocolate bars.
After learning about Johnstone's involvement, some social media users personally attacked Johnstone and called for a Hershey boycott.
"The tone of this campaign is not pushing a trans agenda. It's celebrating women and girls and all of their diversity," Johnstone told CBC's All In A Day Wednesday.
Johnstone says the online harassment is the fourth time in six months she's faced a "dogpile" on social media.
That social media harassment translated into dozens of hateful emails targeting her identity and encouraging self-harm, she said.
Hershey 'stood by' her
Johnstone said Hershey prepared her for potential blowback and has continued to support her since.
"They've stood by my presence in the campaign," Johnstone said. "That really means a lot."
Despite the personal attacks, Johnstone said she's undeterred from pursuing her advocacy.
"To have young trans women and girls see these chocolate bars and to see me on them — that sends a message," she said.
"They're not going to shut me up because this work is so important."
Support resources 'stretched very thin'
Nearly 200 Canadian organizations signed a statement Wednesday saying "there's no gender equality without trans women."
Medora Uppal, CEO of the YWCA in Hamilton, told All In A Day that many of the trans women she works with have been injured, sexually assaulted or are dealing with depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation.
"People are in real harm and risk," Uppal said.
Jaime Sadgrove, manager of communications and advocacy for The Canadian Centre for Gender & Sexual Diversity, also told All In A Day that gaps in support for trans people exist all over Canada.
"Here in Ottawa, our local queer and trans community centre Kind Space [does] incredible work, but … they're stretched very thin," they said.
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