Updated May 24, 2023, 11:45am EDT
North America

The US brands being targeted by anti-LGBTQ+ protesters

 A shopping cart is seen in a Target store in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., November 14, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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The News

A number of major U.S. brands have been attacked by anti-LGBTQ+ activists in recent weeks against a backdrop of Republican bills targeting the rights of trans people.

On Tuesday the retail giant Target became the latest to detail the sometimes violent backlash companies are facing for supporting greater LGBTQ+ representation.

Here's a closer look at the brands that have come under attack.

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Know More

1. Target

Target revealed on Tuesday that it had pulled Pride month merchandise from its shelves after experiencing threats against its staff. This year's LGBTQ+ collection — including items such as “gender-fluid” mugs and “queer all year” calendars — have faced a backlash from customers, who have thrown products on the floor. Despite selling Pride products for more than a decade, the retailer noted that there had been an increase in the number of hostile incidents between customers and employees this year.

The decision to pull products has sparked criticism of Target on social media, with many viewing it as caving-in to people with bigoted views.

2. Nike

In April Nike faced calls for a boycott from anti-trans activists after the company announced a partnership with Dylan Mulvaney, a trans woman who has documented her transition on TikTok to a 10.8 million-strong audience.

One critic of the partnership started a bra-burning campaign on TikTok. Both the video and the account which initially posted the challenge are no longer available on the platform, Business Insider reported.

3. Bud Light

Bud Light producer Anheuser-Busch also faced massive backlash for its partnership with Mulvaney. Critics have boycotted the brand for months and NBC News reported this week that Bud Light sales have plummeted. Though the brand initially ignored the criticism, it later placed two marketing executives on leave for the decision to work with Mulvaney.

4. Hershey’s

Chocolate-maker Hershey faced calls for a boycott in March after featuring a trans activist on some of its wrappers for International Women’s Day. The brand released five special-edition wrappers in Canada featuring five women as part of their “Her for She” campaign, including Fae Johnstone, a trans woman and campaigner.

The brand later released a statement defending its decision, writing it “[values] togetherness and recognize the strength created by diversity.”

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Mulvaney, who has faced a torrent of abuse online, released a video on Instagram addressing the backlash to her brand partnerships.

“I think it's okay to be frustrated with someone and confused, but what I'm really struggling with is the need to dehumanize and to be cruel,” she said.

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Step Back

The wave of boycotts come as states across the U.S. pass bills that restrict or outright ban gender-affirming care for trans people.

Republicans across the country are pushing hundreds of bills which focus on trans issues, and in some cases are openly mocking transgender individuals, Semafor’s David Weigel reported last month.

In Florida this week, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill which will ban gender-affirming care for minors, restrict care for adults seeking treatment, and force people to use certain bathrooms, among other restrictions.


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