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Too much alike? Oxfam forced to deny 'TERF' video depicts J.K. Rowling

An uncanny likeness? A still from Oxfam's controverial TERF video
An uncanny likeness? A still from Oxfam's controverial TERF video Copyright Oxfam
Copyright Oxfam
By Saskia O'Donoghue
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British-founded charity Oxfam faces backlash after posting a now-deleted video showing a woman wearing a 'TERF' badge - with some comparing the likeness to the controversial Harry Potter author.


International charity Oxfam has denied a cartoon woman featured in a video promoting Pride Month was controversial author J.K. Rowling.

Oxfam’s video posted on social media included an image of an angry-looking woman with red hair and eyes and wearing a ‘TERF’ badge.

The footage immediately sparked backlash over the figure’s close resemblance to the Harry Potter author, who has drawn criticism over her divisive views on gender identity.

2019 Invision
Rowling pictured with red hair in 20192019 Invision

TERF stands for "Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist" and is a negative term used against people who describe themselves as feminists but refuse to acknowledge the inclusion of trans and gender-diverse individuals in the movement.

Rowling was first branded as a ‘TERF’ in 2020, following her decision to post a number of critical tweets, drawing a furious backlash.

Earlier this year, Rowling took to Twitter to post a hugely controversial tweet comparing TERFs to suffragettes from the last century.

In February, the 'Hogwarts Legacy' video game, inspired by the Harry Potter novels, sparked an online war waged by some LGBTQ+ activists urging people not to play it because of her stance on trans people.

Following internet-wide criticism, Oxfam made the decision to remove and re-upload the video, editing out the woman and the TERF reference, after apologising "for the offence caused" and explaining they made the choice to change the post because of "concerns raised with us".

In a statement, the charity insisted there had been no intention for the cartoon to “have portrayed any particular person or people”, adding: "We fully support both an individual's rights to hold their philosophical beliefs and a person's right to have their identity respected, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics”.

Despite claiming they had made a mistake when, in fact, they merely meant to “make an important point about the real harm caused by transphobia", Oxfam was criticised by people on both sides of the TERF debate on social media platforms after their decision to backtrack.

One Twitter user wrote: “I will donate to other charities that don't promote ludicrous gender ideology and publish slurs against women”, while others accused the organisation of "pushing trans ideology" and bowing to the demands of "anti-trans fanatics".

At the height of her pre-'TERF' success - Rowling promotes 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire' in 2000AP

J.K. Rowling has refused to comment on the situation, but the trans debate continues to heat up.

Just last week, trans rights protesters interrupted a talk at the Oxford Union by Kathleen Stock, a feminist who campaigns for women's single sex spaces. One demonstrator glued their hand to the floor in front of the "gender critical" academic and others accused the University institution of being transphobic.

AFP via Getty Images
Oxford University's LGBTQ+ Society protests Kathleen Stock's talk at the Union last weekAFP via Getty Images

Even Prime Minister Rishi Sunak waded into the debate, saying Professor Stock’s talk should be allowed to proceed: “Agree or disagree with her, Professor Stock is an important figure in this argument. Students should be allowed to hear and debate her views", adding that university “should be an environment where debate is supported, not stifled. We mustn't allow a small but vocal few to shut down discussion."

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