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'Slap in the face': Trans activist targeted by Quebec-funded women's rights group


A transgender activist is speaking out after a Quebec-funded women's rights group targeted her on Twitter, misgendering her repeatedly and calling her a "violent man."

Fae Johnstone, 27, appeared in a Hershey's ad for International Women's Day earlier this month.

Johnstone says the ad was followed by a "tsunami of hate" online.

One of those voices was Pour les droits des femmes du Québec (For the rights of Quebec women), or PDF Québec, a group that receives tens of thousands in funding from the Quebec government every year.

"To see a provincial government funding an organization engaging in that way in online spaces is absolutely a slap in the face to me, and I would imagine to trans folks in Quebec," Johnstone, who is based in Ottawa, told CTV News.

In a series of now-deleted Tweets, PDF Québec accused Johnstone of encroaching on women's issues, misgendering her throughout.

"This trans-identified male was invited by Hershey Canada to represent women [...] He likes to appropriate what belongs to women," reads one Tweet from the group.

(Courtesy of Fae Johnstone)

In another Tweet, PDF Québec called Johnstone a "violent man," referencing what she says was an out-of-context Tweet containing a knife emoji and the word "bitch."

"[They used] an example of a joking tweet that I sent to my spouse, who is also a trans person, to cast me as dangerous and violent," Johnstone said.

"They called me a 'violent man' on Twitter at a time when I was getting mobbed by far-right groups across the U.S. and North America. They contributed to that vitriol."

(Photo courtesy of Fae Johnstone)

According to its website, PDF Québec is a feminist group, but Johnstone believes its exclusionary comments prove otherwise.

"There is a dissonance. You can't be a feminist and a transphobe at the same time, they don't work out together," she said.

"Feminist groups have a lot to be angry about. They have a lot to be organizing and agitating about that should not and does not need to include picking a fight with trans people, who are also a vulnerable and marginalized population subjected to gender-based violence, economic disparities and high rates of homelessness."

PDF Québec did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication Friday.


It's not the first time PDF Québec has expressed anti-trans views.

On Twitter, the group refers to gender affirming surgeries as "mutilations," criticizes the term "cis" (cisgender) to describe non-trans women, and claims the "surge in claiming a transgender identity" could be linked to pornography, among other posts.

According to Jennifer Maccarone, Quebec's opposition critic for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, PDF Québec has received roughly $120,000 to $140,000 in funding from the provincial government every year since 2019.

Maccarone raised the issue at the Quebec legislature on Thursday, asking Martine Biron, the minister responsible for the status of women, why the government continues to finance a group that is "openly transphobic."

"Each group has its opinion, each group has their objectives. I think groups should be respected as a whole and be heard. They are being consulted now, and it's obvious that I will make sure it's not negative or hateful to others," was Biron's reply.

Biron said the government is working with groups that represent the 2SLGBTQIA+ community as well.

But Maccarone says this isn't enough.

"It is hypocritical, it is completely unacceptable," she told CTV News. "And what she needs to do is revisit all of the financing that's being done, because at the end of the day, it may meet some vague criteria, but choices are still being made."

Biron's ministerial duties include fighting transphobia and homophobia in Quebec, as the file was transferred out of the Justice Ministry in 2022.

Maccarone believes the continued financing of PDF Québec contradicts this mandate. She points out that the group Interligne, a 2SLGBTQIA+ helpline, is cutting services due to funding issues.

"What are we doing to make sure that we're also funding organizations, for example, that help women that are victims of abuse, but also women that fall into the trans feminine category? Because we're not doing enough for them. And they often find themselves faced with homelessness, poverty. They're even more vulnerable."

The Quebec Ministry of Labour, Social Solidarity and the Family, which oversees the financing of such organizations, told CTV News it would respond to a request for comment next week.

Martine Biron's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

With reporting from CTV News' Matt Gilmour. Top Stories

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