The arrest of Sean Patrick Smith has led to a new round of attacks on Target’s transgender bathroom policy, with the 43-year-old allegedly using a cell phone to record a woman trying on clothes in the store’s changing room.
The arrest came in Ammon, Idaho, and police said the suspect was holding a cell phone over the divider between changing rooms. Witnesses said Smith was “a male dressed in women’s clothing,” KTVB reported. The report claimed that Sean Patrick Smith is also known as Shauna Patricia Smith, identifying as a transgender woman.
Though stories of local crime doesn’t usually make national news, the arrest of Sean Patrick Smith caused quite a reaction nationwide. The story came just a few months after the national retail chain announced a new, inclusive bathroom policy that let trans people use the bathroom where they felt the most comfortable.
“We stand for equality and equity, and strive to make our guests and team members feel accepted, respected and welcomed in our stores and workplaces every day,” Target said in a press release. “We believe that everyone — every team member, every guest, and every community — deserves to be protected from discrimination, and treated equally.”
The policy stood in contrast to a controversial new law in North Carolina that required people to use the bathroom of their birth sex, not their gender identity.
The Target policy was not without controversy, with a petition from the American Family Association decrying the policy topping 1 million signatures and some right-leaning sites and bloggers complaining that it could open the door for predators to take advantage of young children. Many of those same sites jumped on the news of Sean Patrick Smith’s arrest.
Alan B. West noted that it was “only a matter of time” before Target’s transgender bathroom policy would backfire.
“The concerns were pretty clear, as spelled out on the petition: ‘This means a man can simply say he ‘feels like a woman today’ and enter the women’s restroom…even if young girls or women are already in there. Target’s policy is exactly how sexual predators get access to their victims. And with Target publicly boasting that men can enter women’s bathrooms, where do you think predators are going to go?’
“Well guess what just happened?”
It’s not entirely clear how the arrest of Sean Patrick Smith is tied into the transgender bathroom policy, as Smith is accused of taking photographs in the changing room and not the bathroom. West did not elaborate on how the bathroom leniency could have encouraged Smith’s behavior, but he was not the only one to tie the latest arrest in with Target’s decision to allow patrons to select their bathroom.
Transgender woman in Idaho arrested for allegedly taking photos in Target dressing room | The Daily Dot: https://t.co/rvNKaU4Kf7— pops (@pops131) July 14, 2016
The Daily Caller also covered Smith’s arrest, and noted in the article that some Target shareholders had raised concerns about the transgender bathroom policy.
Oddly enough, the story of the transgender woman arrested for taking pictures in a Target changing room came just weeks after a hoax story claiming that a transgender woman was arrested for taking pictures in a Target bathroom. The story came from a site called KRBC News, claiming that the woman was targeting underage girls.
“A transgender ‘woman’ by the name of James Goebel was caught snapping photos of underage girls using the restroom at a Dallas area Target store Monday morning.
“One of the victims, a 13 year old girl, said she could hear someone’s iphone camera snapping and was curious, so she looked under the stall only to see the camera phone in her face. She ran out and told her father, who held the door shut until police arrived.”
But anyone who dug a bit deeper (or checked out Snopes) found out that KRBC News is a satirical website, where all the stories are invented. That didn’t prevent the Target arrest hoax from going viral, however.
After allegedly being caught taking pictures in the Target changing room, Sean Patrick Smith was booked in Bonneville County Jail on a felony count of voyeurism.
[Image via Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office]