Oxfam dropping Wonder Women Bingo game had nothing to do with JK Rowling, employee says

An Oxfam charity bookshop in central London

Oxfam withdrew a Wonder Women Bingo game because it deadnamed Elliot Page, not because it featured JK Rowling, it has been reported.

The board game, first released in August 2020 by children’s author Isabel Thomas, features 58 “of the greatest women in history“, from Jane Austen to Greta Thunberg.

It was initially set to be sold in Oxfam’s stores and online for the holidays, but was removed “following concerns raised by trans and non-binary colleagues who told us that it didn’t live up to our commitment to respect people of all genders,” a statement tweeted by the anti-poverty charity said.

It had been suggested that the bingo game was pulled because it includes Harry Potter author JK Rowling.

But according to journalist Owen Jones, an anonymous Oxfam staffer has said that this is not the case at all. Jones confirmed he had verified that the person was an Oxfam employee.

They said that trans and non-binary Oxfam workers approached senior management to note that the game deadnamed Page, who came out as trans in December last year, according to a message Jones shared on his Twitter Tuesday (26 October).

Selling game that deadnames Elliot Page would be ‘unethical’, Oxfam bosses say 

Oxfam’s head office, the worker claimed, agreed that it would be “unethical to sell the product, and it was therefore pulled”.

“As part of the discussion with head office, we did briefly explain the UK’s massive TERF problem and JK Rowling’s part in it,” the staffer added, “but this wasn’t part of the decision to pull the product.

“The decision was made purely out of respect for Elliot Page. We don’t censor JK Rowling.”

The employee explained how buyers ordered the game “last minute” to “fill up the shelves due to shortages of our usual hand-made Christmas gifts”.

An exterior view of Oxfam store in London

An exterior view of Oxfam store in London. (Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Buyers, however, “weren’t aware that [Page] had transitioned”, they added. Head Office ordered that the product be pulled from shelves, but gave no reason to store staff.

“As a result, some disgruntled employee decided it was because THE TRANSES [sic] HATE WOMEN AND THE WIZARD LADY, and leaked the story to the [Daily Mail],” the message continued.

“The manufacturers [Laurence King Publishing] have offered to update the game,” the Oxfam staffer added, “but Oxfam declined this offer because it was only ever a one-off purchase to bulk out the shelves for Christmas.

“Surprisingly enough, the reason for declining the offer was not because we hate women.”

Sharing the message, Jones wrote: “Media outlets should stop fuelling bigotry against a marginalised minority with these misleading ‘culture war’ headlines.”

Laurence King Publishing told the Daily Mail that the publishing house stands in solidarity with the LGBT+ community.

“Wonder Women Bingo was released 18 months prior to Elliot Page’s transition,” a spokesperson said.

“As soon as his transition became public knowledge, we commissioned a replacement. We offered Oxfam […] the updated product.”

Oxfam GB said in a statement to PinkNews: “We took the decision to remove the game from sale following concerns raised by trans and non-binary colleagues who told us that it didn’t live up to our commitment to respect people of all genders.

“The product had been recently added to our range to address supply difficulties.”