America’s second largest discount retailer, Target, announced on 19th April,2016 that trans people were free to use toilets of the gender they identify with, instead of using the toilets of their biological gender. This will be valid for both Target employees and its customers.
In many states of the US, like North Carolina and Alabama, which are against the bathroom bill, this policy could prove to be controversial. In response to Target’s initiative, a petition to boycott this retailer was created the next day and has been signed by around 678,000 people.
According to the petition, this policy could put the safety of women in jeopardy, as sexual predators can enter women’s bathrooms without objection, and this could ultimately lead to sexual assault. It could be difficult to protect women in this situation.
The petition was started by the American Family Association, a Christian organisation who claim that this new policy would ‘be a threat to wives and daughters’. This petition has been trending in Twitter under the hashtag #Boycottarget.
Republican frontrunner, Donald Trump has approved the bathroom bill, unlike his rival, Ted Cruz, who is completely opposed to this idea. Trump claims that so far there has been no problem with trans people using public restrooms. But Cruz’s remains adamant on his view: “It is simply crazy and the idea that grown men would be allowed alone in a bathroom with little girls — you don’t need to be a behavioural psychologist to realise bad things can happen, and any prudent person wouldn’t allow that,”he said during a radio interview.
To counter Target’s initiative, The Oxford City Council in Alabama announced that trans people in the city would be imprisoned for six months if they use the public restroom of the gender they correspond with, reports CNN. This could affect the American retailer, as it has a store in the city.
However, the trans community in the UK has applauded Target’s efforts. Speaking to Infinity House, Natasha Scott, runner-up to Miss Transgender UK 2015 says, “I’m glad that Target is taking a step to help the trans community in America. It’s about time.”
Matt Horwood, Public Communications Officer of Stonewall says, “England has implemented gender neutral restrooms, and it reduces any friction between the trans community and the society. If replicated by Americans this could potentially be the first step towards trans equality in America.”
Target has not yet commented on the boycott petition signed against it.