September 30, 2016

Opinion: Target’s new inclusive restrooms policy is safe and smart

Target has joined the fight to end discrimination against the LGBT community, and its new restroom policy has received praise from liberals. However, it has also started a debate regarding the safety of women. Conservatives and others fear women will not be safe if transgender women are free to use the restroom as well.

As a Target employee, I know this belief is false and the restrooms are still as safe as they always have been.

Target released a statement on April 19 regarding the Federal Equality Act. The law strives to protect the human rights of the LGBT community and bans discrimination due to sexual orientation or gender identification.

Target wrote, “In our stores, we demonstrate our commitment to an inclusive experience in many ways. Most relevant for the conversations currently underway, we welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity.”

My understanding of this statement was if a customer at Target identifies as a transgender woman, they will be accepted into the women’s restroom. After reading it, I never thought a non-transgender (or “cisgender”) woman like me could just waltz into the men’s restroom, nor did I believe this meant a man could follow me into the women’s restroom.

However, this issue has since flooded my Facebook and Twitter feeds. Parents are expressing their disdain to Target’s new policy. They fear a man will be able to follow their daughters into the bathroom, or a woman will be able to follow their sons.

Fearing for your child’s safety is legitimate and I understand why this fear is there. However, the statement released by Target welcomed transgendered guests to use the restroom which with they identify. Target did not say it is a free-for-all in which anyone can use any restroom for any reason.

At the Target store where I work, there are not specified men’s and women’s fitting rooms. The shopper checks in with the fitting room attendant and is then allowed to use any open fitting room stall. If men and women are fine sharing a fitting room together, then I am confused as to how a restroom is so different. Even if Target had this policy in restrooms as well as fitting rooms, to me it is the same concept.

The American Family Association disagrees and started a petition to change Target’s new policy.

The petition said “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?”

As a liberal, I am concerned about women’s safety, but this statement is so absurd.

Walmart does not yet have a policy like Target’s. A Walmart shopper could just as easily put on women’s clothes, pose as a woman and attack shoppers in the women’s restrooms. This does not happen. But because Target now has an accepting policy to the LGBT community, rapists will supposedly line up out the door of a Target to find a victim in the restroom.

I have used the women’s restroom at Target multiple times since the inclusivity statement was released. I never felt scared that a sexual predator was going to attack, nor did a cisgender man ever follow me into the bathroom.

Over 550,000 signatures have been collected on the AFA’s online petition. That is fine – if you do not agree with the policy, then you can boycott Target all you want. But these signators are wrong to make it sound like women’s restrooms are going to become more dangerous than a dark alley in New York City.

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