Get the best of Monitor journalism in your inbox.

Target transgender policy: Another corporation enters 'bathroom debate'

Target’s action is the latest corporate response to a series of so-called bathroom bills that have been considered by some to be discriminatory. 

Lynne Sladky/AP
Target has released a statement that said transgender employees and customers can use the restroom or fitting room facility that 'corresponds with their gender identity.'

Target is joining the movement to provide inclusivity in what has once again become a focal point in civil rights debates: the bathroom.

On Tuesday, Target issued a statement saying that, "we welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity." The statement garnered mixed reactions, with some customers praising the move and others saying that they would begin shopping elsewhere.

Target's action is the latest corporate response to a series of so-called bathroom bills that have been considered by some to be discriminatory. Both North Carolina and Mississippi have passed laws that prevent transgender individuals from using the bathroom that they feel correlates to their gender identity. Instead, they will have to use the bathroom for the gender that corresponds to the one on their birth certificate.

In response, the National Basketball Association has suggested that it may hold its All-Star game in a different city than Charlotte next year. Britain has also issued a travel warning for its LGBT citizens who may want to travel to Southern states in the United States.

Providing inclusive bathroom spaces on college campuses and in schools has rapidly become a hot-button topic. Some colleges and universities work to add additional unisex bathrooms to newly constructed buildings. In other cases, public school administrators have felt that they would be placing one student's need for privacy above the rights of others to use the same space.

In one such example, the school district in Palatine, Ill., decided to reject one student's request to have access to the girls' locker room. The student identified as female, but the school felt that her request created privacy concerns for the other students and instead gave her a separate room to change in.   

But as one Kroger supermarket in Athens, Ga., has pointed out, the bathroom issue isn't isolated to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Other people might need more than the typical male or female bathroom option, too, such as fathers who have daughters or mothers who have sons with them. A photograph of a sign posted outside the Kroger's unisex bathroom went viral after a town resident posted it on Facebook.

"We have a unisex bathroom because sometimes gender specific toilets put others into uncomfortable situations.... Thank you for helping us to provide a safe environment for everyone!" the sign reads.

Target's move to release its own statement on inclusivity led to media speculation that Target was acting under pressure from President Obama or LGBT rights groups, a claim that later proved unsubstantial.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.