Target's handling of its annual LGBTQ Pride month merchandise has managed to draw outrage from both ends of the political spectrum, with progressives taking umbrage with the company's decision to pull displays and items to which conservatives objected.
But beyond the generalized right-wing critique of Target being a "woke" retailer, the most ferocious social media reaction to the company's Pride collection was over items that didn't actually exist — or at least not in the way that critics were claiming.
"Since introducing this year's collection, we've experienced threats impacting our team members' sense of safety and wellbeing while at work," a Target spokesperson said in a statement to Insider. "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."
Here's a closer look at what Target is — and is not — selling as part of its annual celebration of Pride month.
Arguably the most vociferous complaints about Target's product offerings are about a one-piece swimsuit and bottoms featuring "tuck-friendly" construction in the crotch. The design allows a transgender woman to wear the form-fitting swimwear without accidentally exposing their penis.
A firestorm erupted after a conservative social media influencer said the apparel was being marketed and sold to children, but an Associated Press fact check found that claim was false.
The items are "clearly labeled on Target's website as adult swimsuits," the AP said, citing Target spokesperson Kayla Castañeda. "The 'tuck-friendly' swim suits are for adults only," Castañeda told the news service.
The AP said it did find a kids' swim skirt from Target that said it was "Thoughtfully Fit on Multiple Body Types and Gender Expressions."
Critics were also quick to claim that three items designed by Abprallen, a studio in London, were "Satan-inspired" because the company had previously created product lines that mentioned the character, including one with the slogan "Satan Respects Pronouns."
But the Target products themselves — a messenger bag, a tote bag, and a sweatshirt — had no mention of Satan. Instead, they had the slogans "We Belong Everywhere," "Too Queer for Here," and "Cure Transphobia, Not Trans People." The items are no longer available online.
After learning that Pride displays had been taken down and moved away from the fronts of stores in Florida, Insider visited a location in Wisconsin to see what was being sold, and how it was presented.
The "tuck-friendly" swimwear was not immediately visible in the Pride section nor in the children's areas.
What was visible was signage that said things like "Take Pride" and a sizing chart that said "Fit for anyone and everyone."
Apparel featured a mixture of rainbow motif designs, while slogans said "Equality," "Be kind," "Be true to you," and "Trans people will always exist."
Three Target employees in Florida told Insider these products and other Pride merchandise are now relegated to shelves in lower-traffic areas closer to the back of their stores.