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Target Says Its Bathrooms Are Transgender-Friendly

By Sarah Gouda in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 20, 2016 4:58PM

Photo by Mike Mozart via the Creative Commons on Flickr

Target says that transgender people who visit its stores can use the bathroom that aligns with their identity. Though the big-box retailer says they have always maintained this policy, the Minneapolis-based company issued a statement Tuesday reasserting its policy as state legislators around the country push transphobic laws forcing people to use the bathroom for the sex listed on their birth certificate.

They say this statement is a way of reintroducing their commitment to employees and customers of all backgrounds: “Inclusivity is a core belief at Target. It’s something we celebrate. 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.”

Given that Illinois lawmakers are considering their own transphobic bill requiring schools to implement strict gender delineations, this show of support carries significant weight and practical purpose. Retailer restrooms are often the most accessible for people outside the home or office, and many public restrooms refuse to accommodate gender non-conforming people. Groups like The Chicago Restroom Access Project are working to improve this, but they're often met with considerable resistance.

Gina Olson, a Chicago Restroom Access Project member, told Chicagoist: "There are health impacts for people who, say, cannot use the bathroom for the entire day. They can suffer dehydration, or different types of infections... In terms of safety, people are sometimes threatened violently. 'You don't belong here! I'm calling security!’ or someone may choose to remove them themselves."

Though other retailers have remained relatively quiet around the issue, Target's public declaration may open up the dialogue for other companies. This isn't the first time Target has subjected itself to controversy. Last year, Target was the subject of scrutiny after it chose to take down the gender-based signs in its toys and kids' bedding aisles.