Converse Releases Pride-Themed Shoes – But Not Everyone Is Excited

Published on April 22, 2019

Repeat after me, theydies: Lady Gaga didn’t throw the first brick at Stonewall so Converse could make a buck.

Converse announced last week that it will be releasing a line of Trans-pride shoes just in time for Pride this year. At first social media was happy to see that a company that’s been a longtime fan favorite among younger demographics is pledging to support a marginalized community. However, the brand has also gained some heavy criticism over the fact that it doesn’t appear to be donating any of the proceeds from the sale of the shoes to LGBTQ organizations.

The Shoes

It requires more than openly supporting a cause to actually make a difference. The new line of Pride-inspired shoes from Converse is a good example of this. The company announced the line last week. It includes more than a dozen specially designed shoes that draw inspiration from classic Pride colors. The shoes themselves retail for around $80. They can be customized for more features, though. For example, customers can opt-in on pride flag-themed laces on their trans-pride shoes. Kids sizes are also available, though many of the shoes have already sold out.

The creation of a trans-pride sneaker is being touted as a huge step in the right direction. The company has never before featured something as specific as the trans-pride colors in its shoes before. Trans Pride, while distinctly separate from LGBTQ Pride, is often included as part of the community. Converse offering the trans pride shoes is a step in the right direction. Especially as the trans community works toward wider representation in the media.


However big of a milestone the shoes may be, there is one glaring issue. The price is average for a new pair of Converse. The problem is that it highlights an issue with brands getting involved in things like Pride in the first place. The National Center on Transgender Equality released the results of a survey conducted in 2015 that suggested transgender people face alarmingly high rates of poverty within the United States. Who, exactly, are the $80 shoes marketing to?

Another report released by The National LGBTQ Task Force revealed that as many as 19% of transgender people experience healthcare-related discrimination. The high price of the shoes might be more palatable if Converse were to donate a portion of the proceeds to an LGBTQ-related charity. With so many issues surrounding the rights of transgender people today, it would be easy to find a charity to partner with. While representation may be good, the profit from these products is going straight into Converse’s pocket. The brand is being accused of performative allyship because of this.

“I think donating to a cause is a great way to start and should be done. Especially if [Converse] is marketing to a community who’s lack of visibility causes violence against them,” says Jon Bozeman, the Campaign Manager at Truth Wins Out, an LGBTQ advocacy group. “More meaningful ways to show the trans community they are supported is by hiring trans individuals and taking steps [toward] creating an accepting environment in the workplace. It should go without saying, but the trans community doesn’t need shoes — they need acceptance and protection,” Bozeman continues.

Grit Daily has reached out to Converse for a comment on the shoe line.


Julia Sachs is a former Managing Editor at Grit Daily. She covers technology, social media and disinformation. She is based in Utah and before the pandemic she liked to travel.

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