A transgender-identifying creator of apparel and accessories closed his virtual storefronts despite telling the media that sales have increased since the products he created for Target’s 2023 Pride Collection were removed from the retailer’s website.
Erik Carnell is the owner of Abparellen. The United Kingdom-based designer created a “Cure Transphobia, Not Trans People” sweatshirt, a “too queer for here” tote bag, and a “we belong everywhere” fanny pack.
Some critics of the collaboration labeled Carnell a Satanist because of his product depicting pentagrams or Satan with messages like “Satan Respects Pronous.” He has denied this label.
Carnell closed his website and Etsy page to “catch up” on orders placed in the wake of the backlash over Target’s Pride Collection.
“Thank you all for your unrelenting support and love,” Carnell wrote in a message on his site’s landing page. “The positivity and beautiful vibes you’ve sent my way this past week has been overwhelming and I can’t thank you enough!”
His products include some pins with the phrases “Destroy the Cis-tem,” “Sorry You’re Cis,” and “Bury Cis Feelings.”
Carnell removed images of some products from his social media, several of which included extreme rhetoric including calls for violence.
“Gay-bashing, lesbian-bashing, trans-bashing, queer-bashing are all far too prevalent in this world,” Carnell wrote in one post. “Sometimes there’s only one language those who harass us understand. Some might say to turn the other cheek, but others would advice to bash back – and if you’re gonna do that, why not do it with a heart-shaped pastel coloured mace?”
Another post stated that the “transphobe is an insidious creature” that will create “laws designed to prevent the glorious transsexual from thriving.”
“In order to keep transphobes at bay we must eradicate them, it is very important to not engage in conversation with them – fascists do not listen to reason and they do not deserve the trans person’s valuable time,” Carnell wrote.
.@Target withdrawing controversial family-friendly #trans-themed products from its stores is being blamed on vague unspecific "threats" for PR purposes. They know liberal media will focus on this instead of how they f—ked up by not vetting the artist they promoted. British… pic.twitter.com/d98kNZFKAz
— Andy Ngô 🏳️🌈 (@MrAndyNgo) May 25, 2023
Some posts still public on the Abprallen Instagram page warn about perceived homophobic, anti-trans behavior.
On an image of a “No LGB Without the T” pin from January, Carnell said “anti-trans LGB” would be targeted next if “all over the world we made it illegal to transition, made it a crime to be trans, forcibly got rid of all the trans people.”
“None of you are safe, the anti-trans brigade are just using you and you’ve been swindled,” he wrote. “You’ve been taken in by the lies of the transphobes, the Bible-bashers and the bigots. They’re not your friends, you’re cannon fodder and you’re helping to sow the seeds that will grow the trees that will become the handles of the axe they take you down with.”
A caption for a “Deadnames Stay Dead” design reads:
This is for people who intentionally deadname trans and non-binary people in order to make some kind of point, be transphobic, pretend they’re being put out by having to remember this change, or in an effort to hurt and demoralise. Deadnaming is shitty at best and violent or dangerous at its worst, the act of referring to someone by old names and pronouns can ‘out’ a trans person in an unsafe situation or have a negative impact on their mental health.
“If you’re fighting for women’s rights or fighting for the rights of sexual minorities and not actively prioritising trans people (trans women in particular) then you suck,” Carnell captioned a photo of a “There is nothing radical about transphobia” pin. “It’s not radical, it’s not defending biological sex, it’s not protecting lesbians, it’s transphobia. And using these other terms to excuse your actions is vulgar.”
Abprallen currently has 28,100 followers on Instagram.
Carnell told The Daily Mail his collaboration products on the Target website “was getting review bombed by conservatives, giving it one-star reviews” soon after the collection’s launch.
“Every so often, one or two of my products would be taken down from the website, or the link to my brand page… with no explanation or communication,” he said. “I think it was anticipated that there would be pushback, I don’t think anybody anticipated that it would be quite this extreme.”
“Target’s Pride collection included more than 2,000 products from clothes and music to home furnishings, and while several are under review the only ones removed so far from its website and stores are from Carnell’s brand,” reports Reuters.
In addition to the Abparellen collaboration, Target included “tuck friendly” adult swimsuits, chest binders, and children’s swim skirts designed to “Thoughtfully Fit on Multiple Body Types and Gender Expressions.”
The public outcry over Target’s decisions regarding products designed to be gender ambiguous prompted the company to direct stores to relocate the merchandise, fearing a boycott and loss of revenue.