Target has pulled some of its Pride merchandise from its online and in-store shelves, including an entire collaboration with a trans-owned company, after transphobic backlash threatened store workers’ safety.
Some store locations have also moved Pride displays from near the entrances to less visible areas in the back, obfuscating the company’s support of the LGBTQIA+ community, according to Reuters.
For years, Target has offered Pride-themed items, gender-affirming clothing items and collaborations with LGBTQIA+ brands. Its 2023 offerings include over 2,000 products, from children’s books to calendars to queer-themed clothing, per Reuters. Target’s gender-affirming garments, including binders and inclusive underwear, have been celebrated in the LGBTQIA+ community for providing easier and more affordable access to these products.
Transphobic reactionaries have taken issue with Target’s gender-inclusive decisions in the past, such as its inclusive bathroom policy and its gender-neutral children’s clothing sections.
But anti-trans movements have taken a more sinister tone this year. According to a statement from Target, the retailer has “experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work.”
“Given these volatile circumstances, we are making adjustments to our plans, including removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior,” the statement continued.
This comes just weeks after after transphobic reaction to a Bud Light partnership with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney led the beer brand to walk back its support of Mulvaney and the LGBTQIA+ community as a whole. The reaction to Bud Light and Mulvaney was similarly violent — with many of those involved receiving death threats.
Target’s Pride-themed products for children and tuck-friendly adult swimsuits, which provide added coverage for trans women who have not undergone gender-affirming bottom surgery, have been the main targets of backlash, as conservative media spread false information that Target is selling tuck-friendly swimsuits in children’s sizes.
Threats of boycotts have also led to Target removing its three-piece collaboration with queer and trans-owned brand Abprallen from its online inventory. Misinformation is also the reason for the backlash: some Abprallen products featuring Satanic references, such as a pin which reads “Satan respects pronouns,” were thought to have been sold by Target for both children and adults.
In fact, these products are not sold by Target at all, and Abprallen does not sell any products geared toward children. The products in the Target collection were an adult-sized sweater featuring a caduceus and the phrase, “cure transphobia, not trans people,” a fanny pack which reads “we belong everywhere,” and a tote bag reading “too queer for here” alongside a rainbow UFO.
Abprallen did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication, but wrote in an Instagram story that “I have no desire to sell or market my work to children. They don’t have money, for one thing.”
“Going forward, I do not know if Target will begin selling the three items I designed for them again or if the unjust backlash is not worth the risk of supporting the LGBT+ community,” read another Instagram story from Abprallen.
In a press statement, Target said: “Our focus now is on moving forward with our continuing commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community and standing with them as we celebrate Pride Month and throughout the year.”
This promise rings hollow after the brand abandoned its offerings and collaboration specifically for and with the trans community, a vital group within the LGBTQIA+ community that is facing considerable legal and social ostracization.
Upon request for comment, Target directed Campaign to its public press statement.
This story first appeared on campaignlive.com.