Manchester business faces targeted harassment and online abuse after asking customer not to come back

The Ice Shack, a dessert store in Manchester, has been receiving negative messages online after asking a customer not to return to the store.

The controversy began when Leah, owner of the Ice Shack in Withington, was messaged on Facebook by someone saying they were a frequent customer, and asked about a sticker the store had displayed that read “Terf repellent”.

TERF is an acronym which means ‘Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist’ – originally a term for someone who excludes trans women from women’s rights advocacy, but the term is commonly used to describe anyone with trans-exclusionary views.

Leah said: “I clarified what it means – as a business we strongly stand with our trans friends.

“We believe we want to create a space where they feel comfortable and accepted and welcome.”

In the series of messages that followed, the Ice Shack said it was an inclusive and tolerant place and won’t allow intolerance. 

The customer in question said they don’t subscribe to ‘Gender Ideology’ and believe trans women are actually men, so Leah asked them not to return to the store for the safety and comfort of her staff.

Leah said: “We’ve only asked one person not to come back because they’ve made it clear they don’t feel welcome after being told that they can’t espouse these viewpoints here.”

The messages were posted online by a large Twitter account, in a tweet which now has more than 100,000 views, and more than 100 replies. 

Negative reviews of the store were also posted on a variety of platforms, accusing the establishment of being misogynistic and hating women. 

Leah said: “We are now, unfortunately, getting a lot of people who are sending us ‘you’re a traitor to your gender.”

Leah is not trans herself but has trans employees and customers. 

She said: “We just don’t think anyone who comes into our space should be treated like they’re less than a human being.”

Leah brought the store a year ago and with many of the online replies calling for a boycott, she is worried it could affect business during this difficult trading climate.

She said: “I agreed to buy it to preserve it as a safe space. I can really honestly say that it’s not about the money. It’s about providing somewhere that people feel safe.”

“If people feel that they don’t want to come somewhere that is inclusive, then they don’t have to come here. We’ll work through it without them.”

The Ice Shack has also promised to donate 50p from cakes sold to a local charity and hopes to sponsor an event for them in the future.

Main image courtesy of the Ice Shack

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