Well, it’s been an interesting week for Target following the company’s decision to allow members of the transgender community to use whatever bathroom they choose. There’s been backlash and boycotts, but I think’s it time we all need to just take a step back, use our brains, and see a very simple solution for all this madness that I think would be pleasing to everyone (on both sides of the issue).
Let me try to briefly paint a picture as to why the family restroom solves so many problems:
- The Problem of Predators. One of the biggest reasons people argue against Target’s decision is because of their fear of safety for their loved ones. This is the driving force behind the 200,000 plus people who have signed a petition to boycott Target. While fear of predators is a valid argument, the message being sent by this boycott is that transgenders=predators. While a transgender person could be a predator just like anyone else, the simple truth is, anyone else could too. Crazy people are everywhere. If people are really serious about the threat of predators, then it’s time to admit we are being hypocritical if we are ok with some strangers being around our kids in a restroom and not ok with other strangers being around our kids in a restroom. It seems that most people who disagree with this decision are concerned for the safety of women and children (and the necessary line of logic for this would be that men could now enter a women’s restroom). But the fact is – men already use men’s restrooms. Which means – if I allow one of my young sons into a men’s restroom (which I cannot enter because I am a woman, unless I am transgender, I suppose…) he is placed into a potential predator situation. Millions of young boys are the subject of predator harassment each year. It’s not just women and young girls at risk. A bathroom situation where any child is placed with total strangers is inherently risky. It’s not a transgender thing. It’s a stranger thing. And the only way I can guarantee my young children who are of a different gender than myself are safe is if I either take us all into a family restroom or if I take them into the women’s restroom with me. Which brings me to point #2.
- The Problem of Inclusivity. Target’s website states the following: “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.” My oldest son is at that awkward age (6) where, when I drag him into the women’s restroom with me, he cringes. “Mom – why do I have to go into the women’s restroom?” And I’ll admit – it’s awkward for me too now. He’s not a baby or a toddler anymore, but he’s still not old enough where I feel safe letting him go into the men’s restroom by himself (see number one above). We have been many places (various airports, Atlanta Swim Academy, LifeTime Fitness, etc.) where we use these glorious things called family restrooms. It has never bothered him (or me). He can identify better as a member of a family, than as a woman! Because we are a family. It just makes sense. It’s safer. It’s easier. It’s more inclusive. So, if Target is really into inclusivity, I’d argue they should install family restrooms in their stores. Many people who are pro-Target’s decision cite the emotional stress transgenders have to face in everyday life and how many of them are depressed and that refusing them the right to the bathroom of their choice only causes more duress. That may very well be – but do you know how many moms I know who struggle with depression? Do you have any idea how emotionally taxing it is being in a bathroom stall with your child (who may or may not be of the same gender) who is screaming that “the poopie is stuuuuckkk and won’t come out!!!” while you are praying that your other younger child can’t crawl under that opening between the bottom of the door and the floor from which they are trying to escape? And did I mention you are doing all of this from a handicapped stall because unfortunately that is the only stall you can fit everyone into in the women’s restroom? It’s just not safe or good mothering to leave your young child outside the stall where they could run away and get kidnapped. And it’s just not hygienic to leave your older young child in the stall by himself (where you know pee will be sprayed all over the place if you don’t remind him to point his wee-wee down and then make sure he actually does it while he is on the potty). So, while you are trying to be the best mother and most responsible member of society that you can be, you still have the guilt of hijacking a handicapped restroom because there are no other good options. Unless there is a family restroom. Miraculously, the weight is lifted as, once your family enters the restroom, your youngest child is locked in the room and unable to escape, your oldest child can pee all over the place and you will be able to clean it up with dignity before you leave and no one will know the difference, and you are not forced into the awkwardness of having total strangers hear you interact with your kids in the bathroom or seeing your children of a different gender in the bathroom with you. And here’s another couple points worth noting – for people who are concerned not only about their children, but their wives as well – let their wives use the family restroom! Target would be hard pressed to say someone couldn’t use the family restroom. Everyone I know can identify as part of a family. Either you’re a mother or father or son or daughter or sister or brother or something to someone. If you’re part of a family and are no longer comfortable with your gender-assigned restroom, then why not use the family restroom? If a mom with kids can hijack a handicapped restroom because it best suits her needs when there are no handicapped people waiting in line, then why can’t a single person hijack a family restroom if it best suits his or her needs as long as they wait patiently behind the families who actually need the restroom for their kids? Here’s another thought: Someday someone in the transgender community may have a family, and I sure bet they would like the option of a family restroom too! Let’s be smart, people. This transgender toilet issue is an opportunity. An opportunity for Target (and all companies) to show just how progressive and inclusive they really are. Family restrooms to the rescue!
- The Problem of Double Standards. The other day, at Atlanta Swim Academy, my son had to try on a swimsuit for his swim team. I was told that I could not go with him into a restroom unless we used the family restrooms offered in the facility (and there were many offered in this forward-thinking facility). This was a few weeks ago – before the Target ruling came out. Do you know what my thoughts were at the time? I appreciated their enforcement of the rule and that they provided a safe option for families. I thought their rule was smart. My son is 6 now. If I take him into a women’s restroom with me, not only will there be other women in there, but young girls as well. It’s just really not appropriate for him to be in a changing room/restroom with other women and girls. I am his mom – I am allowed to see him change and use the restroom at this age if I deem it appropriate, but that’s really just between us and shouldn’t involve anyone else. It’s SMART to have a family restroom where matters of privacy can remain matters of privacy within the family unit. I don’t need other women to be in a bathroom with my young son, and he doesn’t need to be in a bathroom with young girls. I certainly don’t need to go into a men’s restroom so he can be in a restroom with other men and boys. So, yes, Atlanta Swim Academy. I willingly and thankfully followed your orders! BUT….when Target’s ruling came out, I couldn’t help but think how ironic it was that some in society deemed it ok for total strangers of an opposite sex to go into a restroom with me or my child, while I, as his mom, had previously been told it was inappropriate. That a family restroom was necessary for us. If that’s the case in one situation, it should be the same situation in all. At least Atlanta Swim Academy is being consistent. I, as my son’s mom, could be a total threat to someone in the restroom or even my son, who is just six, could be a threat. Anyone could be a threat to anyone! So, a family restroom is the safest place.
- The Problem of Precedent. Target, you’re the target right now because, in being “progressive” and “inclusive,” you set a precedent. Many people who are opposed to the decision fear this will be the precedent many companies will follow. Do you know how difficult it would be to be out with a toddler you are trying to potty train and not feel like you had any safe options where you could take him or her to the restroom when the “emergency” arrives? The anger, the boycotts, are directed at you because you pulled the trigger on this decision and the fear is that other companies will follow. But, Target – you have an opportunity. You can set a precedent for everyone by vowing to place family restrooms in all of your stores. You can be the company that sets the precedent to make mothers and families feel accepted, welcomed, and respected in your stores! Please give us family restrooms. And I think everyone will be a lot happier.
If you believe that family restrooms should be installed in Target stores, please consider sharing this post and encouraging others to contact Target regarding this issue. There is strength in numbers. Target contact information can be found at the link below: