Oxfam demonizes J. K. Rowling, branding her as a “terf”

June 7, 2023 • 12:00 pm

I got an email from reader Jez Grove pointing out how Oxfam has (literally) demonized J. K. Rowling in a recent video discussed by the Sunday Times of London. The original Times article is here, but it’s paywalled for most of us. However, you can access an archived copy here or by clicking the screenshot below.

Oxfam is a consortium of charitable organizations devoted to alleviating poverty throughout the world. At least it was that way when I lived in England and Scotland, but it’s now taking on social justice at home as well.  Unfortunately, they’re being a bit hamhanded about it, as the article notes:

An excerpt:

Oxfam has been branded “utterly shocking” for releasing an anti-trans cartoon character apparently based on JK Rowling.

The charity’s animated #ProtectThePride video was issued to mark Pride month. It said it could not “ignore the cruel backdrop” against which LGBT people marked the celebration.

The strip included a woman resembling Rowling, who was wearing a badge saying “Terf” — which stands for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist” and is used as a slur to describe those, like the Harry Potter writer, who believe people cannot change sex.

The woman, with blood-red eyes and face contorted in hate, was wearing a green dress – similar to one worn by Rowling at a film premiere – and was looking at the Pride flag. As she appeared on screen, a caption said that LGBT people were “preyed on by hate groups online and offline”.

Gender-critical campaigners attacked Oxfam, which later removed a link to the video.

Milli Hill, a feminist author, told The Times: “Oxfam’s caricature of an ‘ugly hag’ wearing a Terf badge is so typical of the attitudes displayed to feminists who stand up for women’s rights. We are evil old witches basically, and this is the same old misogyny we’ve been fighting for decades, repackaged as ‘progressive’ and ‘liberal’.

Here’s the scene from the video, which, as Jez notes below, has now been eliminated. If that’s not supposed to be J. K. Rowling, complete with red hair and a TERF patch where her poppy is, I’ll eat my hat. This removed screenshot, found by Jez, is in The Daily Mail:

Apparently Oxfam has an animus against Rowling:

The charity has also been accused of hounding out a volunteer who defended Rowling. A former worker, calling herself Maria, said she was accused of transphobia after a colleague asked on an internal message board if Oxfam shops should ban the sale of Rowling’s books.

Maria “had come to the defence of Britain’s most popular living author, asking for evidence of Rowling’s supposed transphobia”, the website UnHerd said. It prompted a “gruelling internal investigation”, with Maria struggling to clear her name, having a nervous breakdown and leaving her job and the country, the website claimed.

She claimed constructive dismissal and belief discrimination and in July last year.

Following the claim, both parties agreed to settle, with Oxfam issuing a public apology for its handling of the process.

Maria told UnHerd: “My life has been torn apart. It drove me to a breakdown, I lost my confidence and, worst of all, I began to doubt myself.”

More from the article:

The video, shared with the charity’s millions of supporters, was made by the Bangalore-based Falana Films to highlight the “lack of safety” that LGBT people feel around the world.

Rowling later liked a tweet criticising the depiction of the cartoon character. Oxfam said: “We have listened to concerns and removed the post.”

Rowling has denied she is transphobic and says she is campaigning for women’s rights and female-only spaces.

It looks as if Oxfam is having some mission creep, just like the ACLU and the SPLC in the U.S.  Jez wrote more about the situation and sent me a link to the video, which you can watch below. Here’s what he said (name and quotes used with permission):

Oxfam has since re-released the video, but with the offending scene, which has also been branded as racist, deleted from the video. Hardly surprising, given that screenshot.

However, the new version has also been criticised, not least because it still seems to celebrate the double mastectomy of healthy breasts of gender non-conforming young women. Ironically, the person next to the woman with the mastectomy scars in the cartoon is wearing a “Protect Trans Kids” t-shirt:

Here’s the video (second tweet) and Oxfam’s apology (first tweet). Do watch the video.

And the photo of the biological woman with mastectomy scars next to someone wearing a “Protect Trans Kids” short, right at the beginning of the video:

The rest from Jez:

Oxfam is a humanitarian aid charity; its senior staff in Haiti were accused of hiring prostitutes and exploiting young female victims of the earthquake. The charity’s country lead in Haiti was also accused of using prostitutes during his previous post in Chad.

And an Oxfam employee recently brought an employment tribunal claim after she was given a final warning simply for asking for evidence on a staff forum that JK Rowling had been transphobic. The charity settled with her and apologised before the case was heard [see above as well].

Very shocking – I won’t be donating to Oxfam in a hurry.

Now there’s nothing wrong with the video except for its extolling double mastectomies of children as “protecting trans kids.” What sticks in my craw here—and in Jez’s—is the demonization of J. K. Rowling as a transphobe, looking Satanic, when she’s clearly not transphobic. One can also criticize this flubbed mission creep of Oxfam, whose record isn’t very good—including that previous incident in which the charity dissed Rowling.

23 thoughts on “Oxfam demonizes J. K. Rowling, branding her as a “terf”

  1. One of the criticisms of this video involves a criticism of the larger issue of coupling sexual orientation and transgender identities together, thus entailing the conflation of explicit threats to lives and safety (such as Uganda’s law condemning homosexuals to death) with ideological claims of threats to life and safety (such as laws which prioritize sex over gender in separate facilities for men and women.) A general call for human rights is fine, but we’re getting used to interpreting “LGBTQ+” as meaning “TQ+” and “genocide” as meaning “other people don’t see me the way I do so I can’t go where I want.”

    Now that I see the photograph of JK Rowling I’m convinced she was the intended subject, but the image is equally problematic if it’s just supposed to be some prototypical feminist harpy hatefully telling a male to get out of the woman’s weight-lifting competition. The style vividly reminds me of war-time propaganda depicting the inhuman enemies threatening our country. Killing in self-defense certainly isn’t “murder.” It’s the Good Hate.

    1. The use of the TERF badge was particularly idiotic. In a recent employment tribunal, the judge ruled that TERF is akin to a racial slur and that gender-critical beliefs, which are associated with the acronym, are protected by the UK’s Equality Act 2010. Any Oxfam employee who holds the belief that biological sex is real and immutable could justly accuse the organisation of workplace discrimination on the grounds of their protected beliefs.

    2. I had the same thought: It reminded me immediately of racist WWII poster and animated film propaganda I’ve seen, which of course is now widely condemned. Again it makes me wonder: What were they thinking? True believers like that stuff but it alienates people who understand there are valid concerns about the rights of non-trans people and that these should be calmly discussed and debated. I think this over the top nonsense they’re pushing is now hurting them more than helping, similar to claiming GC people are genocidal – it’s ludicrous.

      Incidentally, I saw some tweets by TRAs that were unhappy that OXFAM “caved completely” to the “bigots.” Wow.

      1. Yes gender critical people are bigots.

        And I’m confused as to how you could see it any other way. J. K. Rowling literally said that all transgender women are potential rapists and should be treated as guilty before innocent. I don’t know how you could interpret that as anything other than bigotry!

        It’s absolutely offensive what J. K. Rowling said. She also said that autistic women like me shouldn’t have the right to self determination with our own medical care. and she did this under the guise of what I would consider to be a misogynistic paternal angle. That us autistic women are so sweet dainty and innocent… and therefore need our rights taken from us and the government should have the right to decide what kind of medical choices we are allowed to have.

        I mean look at what she said about transgender men more honestly. If she said that about women since she believes they are women, you know what she said was wrong.

        1. Sorry but Rowling never said that; I couldn’t find that quote anywhere. You have left 14 messages in one night along these lines, and that’s too much distortion for me to deal with. I suggest you go leave comments at Pharyngula, where they love to see someone hated on false grounds.

        2. The justification for women’s only spaces (such as restrooms, changing rooms, shelters, etc) is not that all men are rapists, but that males are statistically more likely to be violent or aggressive with females. “Male” is a legitimate sex category and it includes TW.

        3. @Brittany

          Please provide citations for your assertions. I’ve paid close attention to Rowling’s words and deeds in recent years, since she has been unfairly demonized, and I don’t believe she’s said any of the things you assert.

          Put your money where your mouth is.

        4. M-F transgender rates of sexual assaults align with male rates not female rates of sexual assault. JKR’s makes a fair argument based on facts. And facts are not bigoted.

          I have no mental health issues and I cannot determine my medical care, that is the doctor’s job. Otherwise every drug addict would be determining that their course of treatment is more drugs of their choice.

  2. Oxfam is a supporter of BDS for years. This is a good reason for me to distrust the organization and its motives.

  3. It seems pretty evident that a lot of people who accuse J.K. Rowling of transphobia had never read what she wrote about the subject. Here is what I have on it: https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/news/jk-rowling-trans-twitter-timeline-b2326256.html and also https://www.jkrowling.com/opinions/j-k-rowling-writes-about-her-reasons-for-speaking-out-on-sex-and-gender-issues/.
    She does most definitely step into the fray! There is a tiny detail here and there where I don’t agree with her (and if you blink you might miss them), but those could be handled by calmly and simply explaining some nuances in terminology that most reasonable people would be happy to oblige. Like knowing when its best to say “female” rather than “woman”.
    But of course nooooooo. That did not happen!

  4. Several decades ago I supported Oxfam. Famine relief seemed a worthwhile and compassionate goal. But Oxfam seemed to become increasingly snared by Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy:

    In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals that the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.

    The it seemed that the costs of administration increased, particularly for the top jobs. It seemed to be more important to criticise political parties than relieve famine. It seemed to be that aligning with progressive thought was much more important than charitable works. The charity became assimilated by the Borg/Woke.

    I now support local charities (true charities) – and keep an eye on their degree of involvement in their original cause.

    1. Couldn’t agree more. Good for you.

      And thanks to Jez for highlighting this disgraceful story. I too won’t be donating to Oxfam (or others who have drunk the kool-aid, such as Amnesty) any time soon.

    2. Same. Although I’m an atheist, I support my wife donating a lot of money to her local Anglican church, which has low overhead (priests work for cheap) and feeds homeless people in our city. For non-local we support MSF.

    1. I’m currently reading (and enjoying) feminist Victoria Smith’s new book Hags: The Demonization of Middle Aged Women. The illustration here is a very apt illustration of her thesis.

    2. It has not escaped my notice that these folks, while extolling their own empathy and tolerance, are quick to use racist, sexist, or just cruel personal attacks on anyone that they disagree with.
      They ridicule women for their looks or the way they dress. Any Black person who does not share their beliefs with enough enthusiasm is a coon or an Uncle Tom or worse.
      They spray paint antisemitic slogans on the doors and windows of synagogues or Jewish businesses.

      I think Oxfam has got to the stage where extremists have fully infiltrated it, and have changed it’s mission to that of producing Marxist propaganda, while wearing it’s skin to use up the last of it’s credibility. That happens a lot these days.

      1. It has often been said that power corrupts. But it is perhaps equally important to realize that weakness, too, corrupts. Power corrupts the few, while weakness corrupts the many. Hatred, malice, rudeness, intolerance, and suspicion are the faults of weakness. The resentment of the weak does not spring from any injustice done to them but from their sense of inadequacy and impotence. We cannot win the weak by sharing our wealth with them. They feel our generosity as oppression.
        ~ Eric Hoffer

        Are the people running Oxfam weak or strong?

  5. According to The Guardian:

    The UK charities watchdog is assessing whether it will take action against Oxfam after receiving complaints about a cartoon published by the charity that ignited a row about transgender issues.


    The Charity Commission said it was assessing the complaints in the context of its regulatory and risk framework, which requires it to take action if it considers a charity has undermined public trust and confidence in the charity sector.


    1. Good!!!! It would be extra icing if they reveal the tentacles of this beast in all sectors including the public service

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