Target Stores recently announced that they would allow transgender customers to use the bathroom they feel matches their internal gender, regardless of which gender is on their birth certificate. The Target debate came about after the advent of a North Carolina bill requiring transgender people in the state to choose a bathroom in accordance to the gender on their birth certificate. Target is now facing massive petitions to boycott the store in the wake of its decision.
Opponents of the bill argued that it was discriminatory and could cause all sorts of problems, and Target is now facing backlash from millions of former customers. The bill’s supporters claimed it would prevent a trans woman with a male body from entering the women’s restroom, which they stated might be uncomfortable for genetic girls.
Why would someone do this to someone who just wants to be who they are and go to the bathroom how they know they should. I'm a trans man and I don't go to the bathroom in public because of this reason, come together and rise above all the hate. #transhero #transpride #transgender #FTM #MTF #stophate #equality #jointhefight #help #love
Despite Target‘s stance on the matter causing massive boycotts, some other stores see things the same way. USA Today reports that Barnes & Noble, Starbucks, and Hudson Bay Co. (parent company for Lord & Taylor) have all welcomed transgender persons to use the restroom of the gender they identify with. This isn’t the only time the law has tried to speak on matters of transgender rights; in Alabama, a proposed bill would ban transgender persons from using public restrooms altogether.
— Joe Ask (@SHAMEonDELTA) May 3, 2016
Senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz has come out in favor of the North Carolina law and doesn’t seem to see eye to eye with Target. He cited his concerns that someone could potentially use whichever bathroom they want simply because they feel like a man or woman at any given moment. Others think that a person using a public restroom while having the opposite sex’s reproductive organs might make other customers uncomfortable.
Target and other retailers who stand by their transgender patrons overwhelmingly cite similar reasons for doing so, mostly that they feel it would be discriminatory and create a non-welcoming environment if they didn’t. Though many other retailers have since joined, Target was one of the first to openly declare support for transgender customers.
Some retailers are remaining Switzerland-like in the debate by staying out altogether. Western Journalism found that Target rival Walmart has remained quiet on the topic, adding that many consumers are choosing to give Walmart their business instead as a protest against Target.
North Carolina has faced similar backlash as well for their stance on transgender policies. Bruce Springsteen recently cancelled a show he’d scheduled in the state to show solidarity with transgender persons, and top executives in big brands such as Williams-Sonoma, SalesForce, and Levi Strauss & Co. have come out against the bill, which is dubbed HB-2.
Though Target Stores have faced such devastating backlash for being inclusive of transgender persons, they are standing strong in their policies. Other retail giants have come down on Target’s side as well; NJ.com reports that Walgreens, Toys R’ US, and JC Penney have all spoken out defending a transgender person’s choice of which restroom they use. The website reached out to a variety of large businesses with significant economic impact in New Jersey, and got statements back from several of them.
“CVS Health has long supported efforts to improve the lives of LGBT Americans by advocating for equal rights and embracing the rich diversity of our colleagues…
It doesn’t seem the debate over transgender rights at retailers like Target and beyond will end any time soon. While both Ted Cruz and Donald Trump have spoken about the fire that Target has helped ignite, there has been little input from the other side of the political aisle. Senator Bernie Sanders hasn’t expressed a particular opinion on the Target Stores debate, but his website mentions that he’s been a long-time advocate of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) rights. Presumably, this means Sanders is in favor of Target’s decision.
In a poll conducted by Fortune on its website, 58 percent of those surveyed say they agreed with Target’s bathroom policy. However, 42 percent disagreed with Target, making the numbers almost even. The boycott of Target Stores has now reached about 1 million people, and doesn’t seem to be slowing yet. The price of Target stock has also dropped, though it’s not clear whether that is due to the Target boycott or not.
[Image Via Emery P. Dalesio, AP Images]