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Target "tuck" clothing and a "Satan respects pronouns" t-shirt.

Target CEO defends transgender merchandise, admits boycotts hurt

As the Christmas shopping season nears, Target stories are still feeling the effects of last summer’s consumer boycotts.

In May, outraged shoppers took to social media after discovering LGBTQ pride clothing for children and a transgender “tuck-friendly” bathing suit at the popular retail chain. It also later was pieced together that a designer tied to merchandise featuring occult images and phrases, such as “Satan Respects Pronouns” and “Trans Witches For Abortion,” designed some of Target’s so-called pride items.

The nation’s second-largest retailer has seen its stocks lose 20 percent of its value year over year.

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“We’ve seen natural disasters, the impact of COVID, some of the violence that took place after George Floyd’s murder, but I would tell you, what I saw back in May is the first time since I’ve been in this job where I had store members saying, ‘It’s not safe to come to work,’” CEO Brian Cornell said. “They were very aggressive with our team members, personally threatening them, yelling at them. You know, they threatened to light products on fire in the store. We’ve been celebrating heritage months, like pride, for over a decade now, we’ve never seen this kind of response.”

READ: Study found Target funding controversial issues

Cornell was immediately roasted on social media by users reminding him of the damage done to Target during the George Floyd protests. The riots saw dozens of Target stores looted and burned forcing the company to close down stores in several urban areas.

Yet, Cornell doubled down suggesting without evidence he had to pull the controversial merchandise from stores not because of the devastating financial repercussions from the massive boycott but for employee safety. “We had to prioritize the safety of the team,” he now says.

The CEO further seemed to deny some of the transgender items and association with the controversial pride designer.

“People said, ‘Look, there are bathing suits that are transgender bathing suits that are being targeted and marketed to kids,’” MSNBC host Rebecca Quick said. “‘There is a guy who you’re working with, a designer, who, I don’t know, is a devil worshipper or something.’ What would you say back to some of those criticisms?”

“I think, you and I both know, those weren’t true,” Cornell replied. “But in the moment, we said the best thing for us to do is address the issue — we can’t combat each and every statement that’s made. And do the right thing for our team, take the learning as we move forward.”

The designer’s work, however, is well documented.

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice


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