This past week, Target, the retailer that sells everything from food to work out clothes, issued a statement re-affirming their belief in gender, sexual, and orientation equality. According to their statement, “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 welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity.” Good for you, Target.
However, not everyone believes in inclusivity and respect, including the conservative Christian group the American Family Association (AFA). Almost immediately, the AFA demanded a boycott of Target and issued a petition that almost 400,000 people (or .1% of the US population) have signed agreeing with them. According to them, “Target’s policy is exactly how sexual predators get access to their victims… Clearly, Target’s new policy poses a danger to wives and daughters.”
Of course, the AFA is full of shit. As I’ve pointed out in other posts, there has never been an instance of a transgender person attacking a cisgender person in the bathroom with the intention to rape or sexually molest them. There has also never been an instance of a cisgender man posing as a transgender woman going into a women’s restaurant to harass or molest someone. Sexual assault overwhelmingly occurs at the hands of someone you know, not a random stranger in a Target bathroom. Transgender people have much, much more to fear from cisgender people in bathrooms and, as this news article shows, policing who can go into which bathroom can result in very dangerous situations.
This line of reasoning, that we must protect our women and children, is also horribly sexist and illustrates just how little this boycott and laws like it have to do with transgender people. Repeatedly, people bring up men going to assault women and children, insinuating that women and female children are somehow fragile, incapable of understanding a transgender person (or a penis), and must be protected at all costs. If people truly thought transgender people were just rapists in disguise (which they absolutely are not), why aren’t they concerned about women claiming to be transgender men going into male restrooms and assaulting men and male children? Do they not care about the 3% of men who have experienced rape or attempted rape? Do they not care that 15% of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12 and 18% of those are male? Are they not concerned about vulnerable young boys?
No, of course not, because the issue isn’t transgender people. Laws and boycotts like these have nothing to do with transgender people. They are purely about cisgender people who are afraid. Cisgender people are afraid their property (their wives and children) will be damaged, which will reflect badly on them. Cisgender men are afraid that they will receive the kind of harassing treatment that women do. Cisgender people baselessly worry that transgenderism is contagious or dirty and don’t want to have to go through the pain of social stigma. Cisgender people would rather police transgender people literally to death than confront our society’s rape culture, our perpetual exclusion of those in any way different, or learn how to respect people with different experiences.
Here is the truth: we have nothing to fear from transgender people, and their genitals are none of our business. We have no right to tell another person they aren’t valid or real. We have no right to label another person as this or that. We have no right to interfere with their lives.
I for one am proud of Target for re-affirming their inclusive and respectful beliefs, and I support them against this ridiculous boycott. I appreciate their willingness to let transgender people live their own lives unmolested, and I will continue to patronize them. Inclusivity and respect are the only ways our country can achieve progress. Transphobia will just hold us back.