Column: On Target for transgender inclusivity

This Monday, Aug. 11, 2015, file photo, shows a Target store in Miami. Target is making a stand on the debate around what type of bathrooms transgender people can use. In a statement posted on its company website Tuesday, April 19, 2016, the discounter, based in Minneapolis, said transgender employees and customers can use the restroom or fitting room facility that "corresponds with their gender identity." (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

Recently, the popular retailer Target has been in the spotlight, not for their products, but for their political views. Last week, the department store released a statement saying that they support a person’s right to use whatever facilities, bathrooms or changing rooms, they feel comfortable in, regardless of gender.

This, of course, has been met with much controversy. While many have praised Target and are supportive of this announcement, others have decided to protest in stores, claiming the decision is unwarranted and dangerous. However, Target’s actions are completely justified, for they are only advocating for one’s unalienable rights to live the life one chooses.

Target’s announcement comes just under a month after North Carolina’s governor, Pat McCrory, signed House Bill 2, the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act. This bill had several different sections, most notably a clause stating that all people, regardless of how they identify, must use the restroom and services that match the reproductive organs that a person possesses. Target’s statement goes directly against this bill, a fact that many protesters of the store are pointing out in their protest.

As of April 26, over 700,000 people had signed a petition to boycott the department store. According to USA Today, this petition, started by the American Family Association, quickly gained popularity once it began last week and has become one of the group’s most popular campaigns. However, despite the threat of losing customers, Target officials stand firm in their beliefs, and have not shown any sign of retracting their statement.

Surprisingly, most of the criticism about Target’s announcement is not being presented as an issue of homophobia, but is being seen as a hindrance to safety. Many protesters have been saying that by opening their bathroom doors to everyone, Target is running the risk of allowing sexual assailants and other predators to take advantage of the policy.

According to The Blaze, one man, Izzy Avraham, approached a local Target manager about the policy and how it made his daughter feel uncomfortable. The manager responded to the pair by saying that the policy is to make sure that everybody feels included and like they belong. Avraham later posted on his Facebook page saying: “telling me you’re ok with men walking into the bathroom behind my baby girl actually doesn’t make me feel like I belong. It didn’t make her feel like she belonged either."

The Trans Student Alliance at the University of South Carolina holds a rally and news conference at the state Capitol to protest a controversial bill that would ban transgender people from choosing the bathroom they use Wednesday, April 13, 2016, in Columbia, S.C. (Tim Dominick/The State via AP)

What these critics are not recognizing, however, is that Target’s policy is not new. While the company may have never explicitly stated corporate views on the subject before, their acceptance and inclusivity of everyone is an old protocol that has just now been brought to light. Therefore, all the claims that Target is assisting sexual predators are completely misguided, as the store has never had a large issue with this before, despite the policy being intact.

In the same way that the civil rights movement was not actually a concern about water fountains, this is not an issue about bathrooms. The real problem here is ignorance. People fear the unknown and do not know how to accept others who are different from themselves. But this inexperience only breeds intolerance and hatred.

While people may claim that they will fear for their safety if members of the opposite sex are allowed to use their bathrooms, this is a completely unjustified accusation and only serves as a way for individuals to hide their true, homophobic and transphobic beliefs.

America has fought many battles surrounding civil rights during the past 230 or so years, and we do not want to backtrack on this progress. We have made leaps and bounds from where we were in the 1950s and 1960s; but, some Americans are reverting back to discriminatory ways in the face of diversity and acceptance.

Target’s declaration is the first step and it will hopefully be a catalyst, towards a more open-minded future. However, Target cannot be the only one. It is time for more steps to be taken and other companies to follow Target’s lead in abolishing the taboo that comes with LGBTQ controversy. 


Emma Hungaski is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at emma.hungaski@uconn.edu.