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Target under fire for censored book descriptions

Certain words were replaced with asterisks on Target's website. People noticed.

The latest furor over perceived out-of-control censorship is centered on none other than Minnesota's homegrown retail giant, Target.

It's thanks to a product description on the retailer's website, specifically for Trans Teen Survival Guide, a book that's due out on September 21. 

Users looking up the book this past week found the word "transgender" replaced by asterisks – in other words, bleeped out.

IntoMore shared an excerpt of the censored description: “Frank, friendly and funny, Trans Teen Survival Guide will leave ****** and nonbinary teens informed, empowered, and armed with all the tips, confidence and practical advice they need to navigate life as a trans teen."

Given the subject matter of the book, it was an understandably confusing redaction.

However, Trans Teen Survival Guide isn't alone. 

According to Publishers Weekly, multiple book publishers have taken Target "to task" for censoring a number of online book descriptions. The publication says "transgender" was also taken out of the writeup for Lana and Lilly Wachowaski, an upcoming book about the filmmakers behind The Matrix series, while words like "Nazi" and "queer" were bleeped out of other descriptions. 

IntoMore points out that the latter word, which has been used as an "anti-LGBTQ slur" in the past, has been reclaimed by the LGBTQ community. 

Despite Target's seeming overzealousness in sanitizing certain words from their website, it turns out there's a much simpler, less diabolical explanation behind the "bleeping": automation. 

The Minneapolis-headquartered retailer told the Star Tribune on Friday that the editing program was aimed at ensuring "a positive shopping experience" by removing profanity, but admitted that the words in question "should be included."

Target has been working with its staff on the problem and has corrected most of the book summaries, the Tribune says. 

As the Business Journal points out, this isn't Target's first controversy involving the LGBTQ community. 

Perhaps the most notable of those is the 2016 backlash over the company's transgender bathroom policies.

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