Don’t make bathrooms a tool for politics

Target’s announcement about non-gendered bathrooms may react to politics in North Carolina.

by Keelia Moeller

Target took a controversial stand on transgender bathroom policies last week by welcoming shoppers to use whichever bathroom or fitting room matches the gender with which they identify. 
Target’s decision has stirred uproar by certain customers who believe the new policy will invite “predators” to use public restrooms and fitting rooms — a terribly illogical fear.
As a result, some have threatened to boycott the company unless it changes its policies. Others have proclaimed they will never use Target restrooms again.
To them, I say, “Good riddance.”
Even before Target publically announced their plan to let patrons use whichever facility corresponds to their gender identity, no Minnesota laws existed that would restrict bathroom use based on sex-assignment. 
Target’s policy change — while largely symbolic — may lessen the fear transgender individuals feel when using the rooms they prefer. 
Furthermore, I believe the fear of “predators” in public facilities is nothing more than a blatant way to further stigmatize transgender people by defining them as a danger to society. Disguising prejudice under the false pretense of keeping children safe is a low blow.
Target is a highly influential corporation, and I commend the company for taking a stand against discriminatory bathroom laws. However, I also believe we ought to take note of the political agendas behind good deeds such as these.
Target’s announcement came soon after North Carolina decided to restrict restroom use to the sex listed on people’s birth certificates. That state’s policy specifically targets young transgender people because it applies to school bathrooms.
North Carolina’s decision — although the polar opposite of Target’s — has spurred as much public outrage. Many people have highlighted how it authorizes discrimination.
Even the United States Commission on Civil Rights chimed in, saying the policy violates the dignity and safety of transgender people. 
I agree entirely with the criticisms of North Carolina’s new bathroom laws, and I’m saddened that, even today, there is still so much flagrant discrimination in society. 
Extending discrimination into school bathrooms is a decision that will pose serious long-term repercussions to the mental well-being of young, transgender students. This doesn’t even begin to describe what might happen to the mindsets of the state’s other children, who will grow up in an environment that normalizes intolerance.
No corporation or politician should use the rights and dignity of transgender people as a political ploy to attract attention, customers or votes. 
I sincerely hope other states reject North Carolina’s example. I also hope other corporations follow Target’s lead and create safe, nondiscriminatory environments for all shoppers — but they ought to do it for the genuine good of their customers, not because it’s socially fashionable.
Keelia Moeller welcomes comments at [email protected].