Yesterday, in response to the wave of anti-LGBT legislation sweeping our country -- including discriminatory bills aimed at barring transgender people from using restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity -- Target reiterated its inclusive restroom and fitting room policy for its employees and customers.
At Target, which was recognized as an HRC “Best Places to Work for LGBT Inclusion,” employees and guests are welcome to use restrooms and fitting rooms that correspond with their gender identity. Not only is this policy in keeping with the best practices recommended by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, it also aligns with the latest U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidance on preventing discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Target’s announcement, however, takes a decisive step beyond on-paper policies, serving to publicly affirm transgender people at a time when our dignity and safety are under daily attack.
When I use the restroom as a transgender man today, no one challenges whether I belong there because most people assume I was assigned male at birth. But that wasn’t always the case for me. For decades I walked the earth as a visibly gender non-conforming person, and the question of which restroom or fitting room or locker room to use was a constant source of anxiety and pressure and not without good cause: I faced discrimination and verbal and physical abuse more than once while using sex-segregated facilities. An act as simple as using the restroom or trying on a new pair of jeans was often demoralizing at best, and dangerous at worst.
I wonder what it must be like to be a young transgender person today? I can’t be easy to be bombarded with messages undermining your humanity and dignity. It must be awful to know that elected officials -- like those who passed North Carolina’s terrible HB2 -- fixate on restricting safe access to facilities, including restrooms in public buildings including schools, airports and convention facilities. These discriminatory bills increase stigma for transgender and gender-nonconforming youth and health experts, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, have condemned these pieces of legislation as harmful to LGBTQ youth.
Target’s public affirmation of its existing transgender-inclusive policies for employees and guests is an important voice in countering the current misunderstanding and fear mongering surrounding these anti-transgender bills. More than just a statement on policy, it also affirms the dignity of transgender people. This message is a welcome reminder that transgender people, like everyone else, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
Target received a 100 on HRC Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI), the national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices pertinent to LGBT employees. Target is also a National Corporate Partner at the Platinum level. Learn more about the CEI here.