For better or worse, corporations have in recent years become a major force in the push for LGBTQ equality. I might prefer a world in which an embrace of difference and compassion for other humans held more sway than economic pressure—but things being as they are, I’ll take what we can get. And we just got a considerable, tangible bit of support from Target: On Tuesday, the retailer affirmed that, at least within Target’s airy stores, transgender employees and guests are welcome to use the restrooms and fitting rooms consistent with their gender identity.
From a statement on Target’s blog:
Recent debate around proposed laws in several states has reignited a national conversation around inclusivity. So earlier this week, we reiterated with our team members where Target stands and how our beliefs are brought to life in how we serve our guests.
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.
We believe that everyone—every team member, every guest, and every community—deserves to be protected from discrimination, and treated equally. Consistent with this belief, Target supports the federal Equality Act, which provides protections to LGBT individuals, and opposes action that enables discrimination.
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.
Given that this is just a “restatement of policy,” according to a Target spokeswoman, it might be tempting to dismiss it as using the recent anti-trans legislative demagoging in North Carolina, Mississippi, and elsewhere to score some positive PR. However, it’s worth noting that unlike other corporations in which consumers may or may not have much investment, Target is the kind of business that’s popular in both conservative and liberal communities across the country. All kinds of people shop there for all kinds of things, so to hear the company stand up—explicitly, by name—for trans rights in this way has more impact than the average CEO’s signature on a Human Rights Campaign petition.
The polarized response to Target’s statement is already visible in the comments on Target’s post, which range from notes of praise to promises of lost business. Facebook commenter Susan McGinnis Linn’s farewell is representative of the latter camp: “Goodbye Target. That’ll be on average about 10k you’ll not be receiving annually. Shredding cards now.” No doubt Target would prefer that Linn continue to throw down that charge card for more Dollar Spot deals than she really needs. But by aggressively committing to the safety and happiness of their trans workers and customers, the company has shown that it values more than just profit.