Target hits the bulls-eye

It’s crazy how logging into Facebook can ruin one’s day. There I was, minding my own business, doing my monthly check-in with family members, friends and acquaintances, when I stumbled upon a fresh batch of ignorance.

Target recently released a statement on their website addressing their policy on store bathrooms and dressing rooms.

The statement reads, “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.”

When I first read that, I thought “Wow, what a large step forward, a major corporation is becoming gender inclusive!”

Of course I knewthere was going to be some backlash, but many people are now taking it to the extreme.

In response to Target’s statement, many people are flooding Facebook with their “brave” stories of how they walked fearlessly into their local Target.

On their self-imposed, daring quest, the individual confronts their local Target’s manager, asks them about the bathroom policies and then tells the manager they will no longer be shopping at Target. Clearly these individuals need to be praised for their misguided bravery. Most of these people are even using the hashtag #byetarget to express they’re boycotting the corporation.

In addition, the American Family Association has created a petition dedicated to boycotting Target, which, according to their website, has over 1 million signatures.

Let me drop some truth bombs on all of you right now.

According to the Office for Victims of Crime, 50 percent of transgender people have experienced sexual violence at some point in their life.

Most of this violence is result of being abused in places they assumed would be safe. Target has tried to cultivate a safe experience for everyone, whereas many people are trying to derail that.

Sexual assault is a horrific act committed by terrible individuals who only view people as objects to be taken advantage of. There are many news stories of people pretending to be transgender so they can enter a bathroom and prey on the people who enter. Don’t use a policy to spread misinformation.

Rather than looking at this policy and dismissing the needs of transgender people, look at it from the perspective many people are trying to avoid. This outcry isn’t about transgender people, it’s about rape culture.

I do understand a lot of this outcry.  According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 71 men will be raped or sexually assaulted at some point in their lives.

Those are scary numbers, and many people, primarily women, believe male predators will take advantage of new policies like this and pretend to be transgender so they can enter the women’s restroom. But rather than being transphobic and alienating transgender people even more, think of ways to solve the problem.

One of the ways people can do this is encouraging corporations, like Target, to eliminate their atypical gendered stall bathrooms, and instead, put in individual gender neutral bathrooms that can be locked from the inside.

While this may be more expensive, if Target is truly trying to cultivate a safe experience, it shouldn’t be too big of an issue.

In addition, according to the Rape Abuse Incest National Network, 97 percent of rapists walk away with little to no punishment for their crime. Rather than accusing a corporation of encouraging sexual assault, organizations like the AFA should use their notoriety to encourage people to become more involved in sexual assault and violence lawmaking.

An example would be the SAFER Act, which if passed, would help reduce the amount of backlogged untested rape kits.

At the end of the day, the goal should be to keep as many people safe from predators as possible. Rape and sexual assault are horrible things and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
So before you check your Facebook feed and see something you don’t like, research it before you share it.

Look into the issue, understand why it’s important and how it affects everyone (not just how it affects you). Don’t be a passive bystander to the ignorance being shared via social media.