Trans designer in Target anti-LGBTQ+ backlash says he was ‘dealt the worst hand’

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Trans designer Erik Carnell feels he was “dealt the worst hand” by Target after the retail giant pulled his products amid the anti-LGBTQ+ backlash against its Pride collection.

The U.K.-based designer was caught up in the Target
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furor after the retailer began selling three products from his brand, Abprallen. Carnell, targeted amid right-wing backlash against Pride-related items, says that Target pulled his products from its website and stores.

“My Target collection has been impacted by this, and as far as I am aware my work is the only one to be removed entirely from online and in store,” he wrote in an Instagram post Friday. “Links to my collection on Target’s website are now dead, searches yield no results, and my collaboration with them has evidently been discontinued.”

Related: Trans designer speaks out after Target pulls products: ‘I’ve had a lot of death threats’

“Whilst all brands who partnered with Target this Pride season have been impacted I feel as if I have been dealt the worst hand,” Carnell added. “My work was likely pulled following false accusations of being a Satanist and of marketing my work to children, both claims have been debunked numerous times but members of the religious right refuse to back down.”

“It is a common trope to accuse LGBT+ people of immoral or illegal activities in order to discredit them, regardless of the truth behind the matter,” Carnell wrote.

Some social-media users had accused Carnell of promoting Satanism over a handful of items in the broader Abprallen collection referencing Satan, such as a pin emblazoned with the phrase “Satan respects pronouns” — a message that Carnell has said is tongue-in-cheek. None of the Abprallen designs sold by Target referenced Satan, and Carnell was not involved in the design of adult “tuck-friendly” swimsuits at Target that have also sparked a backlash against the company.

Related: ‘Target doesn’t have a spine’: Workers slam retailer’s decision to pull LGBTQ+ Pride-themed products amid backlash

In his Instagram post, Carnell said he was informed after the fact by one of Target’s distributors that his collection would be removed. “At the time of writing I am unaware of what will happen to the rest of my collection’s stock, as well as the enamel pin set and tank top I designed that were due to be launched by Target in due course,” he said. Carnell added that Target had not contacted him at all, so he
“cannot speak on specifics.”

MarketWatch has reached out to Target with a request for comment on Carnell’s statement.   

Target has been offering a range of Pride-related products leading up to June’s Pride Month. However, the chain has removed some LGBTQ-themed products and hidden Pride Month displays in certain Southern locations following online complaints and in-store confrontations that the company says placed employees at risk, the Associated Press reports.

Related: Target on the defensive after removing LGBTQ-themed products

In a statement provided to MarketWatch last week, a Target spokesperson said the company had “experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work” since introducing this year’s Pride collection.

“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 spokesperson 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.”

Target has offered Pride-related products for more than a decade, according to the spokesperson.

See: ‘Cleaner’ Target enjoying margin recovery, analysts say

Last week, an organizer for the worker-advocacy group Target Workers Unite told MarketWatch that many of the retailer’s employees believe the company has caved to a bad-faith campaign in order to salvage sales.

On Sunday, Carnell posted on Instagram that he had made an iron-on patch of his “Satan respects pronouns” design. “I couldn’t tell you the amount of news articles, TikToks, YouTube videos, tweets, opinion pieces, hate mail, and drama that this design has generated,” he wrote. “I mean, it totally destroyed my opportunity with Target despite it having nothing to do with them.”

“Thank you to the thousands of you who have showed up to support me during this absolutely wild time, I love you!” the designer added.

Related: Target stock swings to a gain as an earnings beat helped offset a downbeat near-term outlook

Target’s stock, which has fallen 13.7% in the last month, was down 2.4% Monday, compared with the S&P 500 index’s
SPX,
-0.10%

gain of 0.1%.



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