The Target Corporation has just announced plans to spend $20 million across retail locations throughout the United States to add a private bathroom to each of its stores by next year. This is in response, of course, to customer protests of its relatively new policy to allow transgender individuals to use whichever of the provided restrooms corresponds with their gender identity.
Fortunately for the company, most of its 1,797 stores nationwide already have a single-occupancy—or unisex—restroom, so this budget is allotted to adding another similar option to 277 stores by November and then another 20 stores by March of 2017.
Target finance chief Cathy Smith said that this was not only in response to the vocal feedback the company had received over the transgender bathroom debate. She remarks that the controversy has had an impact on sales; so they had to do something.
Indeed, this has been a hot topic. When North Carolina became one of the first states to enact transgender restroom legislation, many business announced the would withdraw their investments in the state. Even the National Basketball Association—yes, the NBA—pulled its coveted All-Star game from Charlotte. Target responded with understanding to the legislation, but customers protested.
And these protesters are not taking the matter lightly. One group in particular—the American Family Association—has already collected more 1.3 million signatures on an online petition to completely boycott Target stores. AFA spokesman Walker Wildmon said, on Wednesday, that they are unsatisfied with how Target has responded. He calls the policy a “bathroom free-for-all.”
He goes on to say, “If the majority feel uncomfortable, they will have to go intot he single-stall bathroom. Transgender individuals should have to us the single-stall if they feel uncomfortable using the facilities assigned on their birth certificate.”
Still, National Center for Transgender Equality executive director, Mara Keisling, applauds, “There are lots of gender noncomforming people who will be happy about this and will use those bathrooms; and most transgender people will continue to use the bathrooms that match their gender identity as they have been doing for decades.”