Pottery Barn, which was once among the top three retail brands for conservatives, is now facing boycott calls from customers for featuring a transgender activist on its social media this week.
On Wednesday, the home furnishing chain held a virtual reading of the children's book I Am Jazz, written by 22-year-old transgender activist Jazz Jennings, on its children's brand page, Pottery Barn Kids. The book tells the real-life story of Jennings, who was assigned male at birth and was diagnosed with gender dysphoria at 4 years old.
From a young age, Jennings began appearing on national television to speak about the challenges of growing up transgender and has since become a spokesperson for transgender children. However, her partnership with Pottery Barn has put both her and the company in the crossfires of a national culture war over the inclusion of transgender women in female issues and spaces.
The post received fierce backlash, with Instagram users flooding the comments section with criticisms of the brand for speaking out about trans issues.
"Goodbye Pottery Barn. It was nice while it lasted. 👋," one user wrote.
"This is DISGUSTING. I'll go take my money elsewhere. Such a shame you had to go this route," wrote another user.
"So sad. Been a patron of PB for almost 2 decades. Now you're pushing an agenda & I'm out. 😢 Bye 👋" a third commented.
Newsweek reached out to Pottery Barn via email for comment.
A report from NBC News in 2017 found that Pottery Barn was the third most popular retail site for conservative Republicans, behind industrial supplier Grainger and home retailer Williams-Sonoma, according to data from Hitwise. Comparably, liberal Democrats were found to favor fashion retailers Forever 21, Urban Outfitters and Gap.
However, the brand has sought to attract younger, urban customers in recent years. In 2017, MarketWatch reported that Pottery Barn launched a "Smaller Spaces" collection to appeal to those residing in smaller living arrangements in large cities who can't afford the large pieces of furniture it normally sells.
Pottery Barn's website is currently offering other pro-LGBTQ+ items for Pride Month, including mugs and doormats, of which some proceeds are being donated to the Trevor Project, a nonprofit focused on suicide prevention efforts among LGBTQ+ youth.
Meanwhile, transgender rights and inclusion are issues that are proving deeply polarizing in the United States. A survey by the Pew Research Center last year found that 38 percent of Americans believed that society had gone too far in accepting transgender people, while 36 percent said it had not gone far enough.
Pottery Barn is the latest brand to come under fire for partnering with transgender influencers. Bud Light and its parent company Anheuser-Busch has been the center of a cultural storm since April when transgender influencer and activist Dylan Mulvaney shared a video of her drinking the beer brand in a promotional post.
The partnership led to mass calls to boycott Bud Light and has caused a double-digit drop in U.S. earnings. However, some have noted that the reason the beer boycott was successful was because Bud Light's consumer base is largely conservative men.
There were also calls to boycott Target last month after the retail giant released its LGBTQ+ Pride Month collection. However, Eric Schiffer, the CEO of Reputation Management Consultants, previously told Newsweek that a Target boycott would be less successful since its demographic "skews younger and likely more to align toward inclusion and LGBTQ rights."