Why I Don’t Care About Target’s Restrooms


Alright, this is funny because obviously if I’m willing to write a blog article about Target’s restrooms, I care at least a little about Target’s restrooms. Haha, joke’s on me. But here’s the thing: mainly, I care that the “news” and other media sites are pushing it so hard that I’ve seen some otherwise-perfectly-polite people get caught up in it. Again, joke’s on me. But the real reason it bugs me isn’t because I want Target’s policy to stand or fall. It’s that everybody’s so concerned with taking a side that they’re ignoring all the obvious in-between options. So in case you’re wondering, here’s why I haven’t taken sides on the whole “trans people using the public restroom” thing:

Nobody actually cares about restroom safety.

This isn’t about letting trans people into public restrooms. Those who argue against it aren’t worried about trans people; they’re worried about men who aren’t trans abusing the system. (Interestingly, they’re not worried about women.) And on the other side, those who are all for trans people using the restroom of their choice aren’t arguing for some mystic right to a golden toilet stall; they want their lifestyle to be recognized and validated.

(Both of these are valid concerns that affect the American public. No matter which side you’re on, please recognize that the other side is made up of human beings, not demonic forces of Hell designed to destroy your social media namaste. )

The big reason I’m not willing to take a side is that this doesn’t have to be a fight. We could solve this easily – we just don’t want to. If we were actually trying to find solutions, we’d have them already. We just want an excuse to shout at someone and pretend it’s because we’re defending some righteous cause.

If we actually wanted to solve the problem, here are a few things Target could do to appease both crowds:

  • Install floor-to-ceiling stall walls and doors. Then perverts couldn’t see under/over them.
  • Install “family” style bathrooms. This would be more expensive, but it isn’t gender-specific and each room has a good lock on it.
  • Fully integrate the restrooms, so that honest men and women could police those who are perverts. This way, my husband could stand guard if he really thought someone was sketchy, and vice versa.
  • Put stall walls around urinals. They’re the most vulnerable (nearly the only vulnerable) part of a public restroom.
  • Build one separate restroom for those whose gender is more fluid than most.
  • Remove the public restrooms and make people use the ones they have at home. As far as I’m aware, nobody has an inalienable right to relieve themselves on someone else’s property. (There may be local laws, however, so this might not apply in all places.)
  • Keep the existing policy, and kindly ask those who disagree to find another place to relieve themselves.
  • Change the existing policy, and kindly ask those who disagree to find another place to relieve themselves.

These are just the ones I can come up with off the top of my head. On a side note, I’d like to say that I’ve been in the men’s restroom, and I’ve seen men in the women’s restroom. Nothing happens. In my experience, everybody just assumes that the other restroom was full, and you really have to go. If we actually want to prevent the pain of abuse or intolerance, we should stop trying to hurt each other over a disagreement of opinions. There are better ways to spend our energy. ♦


5 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Care About Target’s Restrooms

  1. Well written. But pleeeease don’t remove the public restrooms altogether!! NOT an option for women who have a 5 minute delay from eating and having to relieve themselves. Or who have children who have been recently potty-trained. Or for those health conscious people who drink lots and lots of water. Or for people who have been on the road for 5 hours and if they don’t find a public restroom they’ll die. I’m sure I missed someone – feel free to add your own reasons.

  2. “And on the other side, those who are all for trans people using the restroom of their choice aren’t arguing for some mystic right to a golden toilet stall; they want their lifestyle to be recognized and validated.”

    I do, in fact, want my gender to be recognized and validated. But the bathroom thing really isn’t about that. It actually is just about being able to use the restroom. It is very common for trans people to avoid public restrooms and wait until they get home to pee (which can have adverse health consequences), or to go well out of their way to find a gender neutral or single stall restroom, and this is even in places which have laws that protect against discrimination against trans people in places of public accommodation (which translates, among other things, into trans people being allowed to use the restroom which matches their identity). Many trans people don’t feel safe using gender segregated public restrooms, and for good reason. A survey of transgender people in Washington D.C. found that 9% of respondents had been physically assaulted for using public restrooms, while 68% had been verbally harassed (see: http://www.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2013/06/25/transgender-people-are-harassed-and-assaulted-in-public-bathrooms-survey-says).

    Public restrooms are most problematic for those who are visibly trans or whose appearance is somewhat androgynous. I have personally been verbally harassed for using the men’s room before, but people tend to identify me as male >90% of the time, so there really is no question of me using the women’s room (though if I were in Alabama and had about 5 forms of ID on me, I might be tempted to use the women’s room like the law there says I should, just to be an object example of why that law is stupid).

    That said, if people actually did install family style or any other type of gender-neutral single stall restrooms everywhere, I would be very, very happy. My college has some of these in some buildings, and I regularly go out of my way to use them. Having my gender validated by using the men’s room is nice, but not having to worry about being harassed is nicer.

    • Thanks for your reply – it’s incredibly valuable to have an insider’s opinion on this. One of my biggest irritations with this issue is that most of those who are in an uproar haven’t had any personal experiences that are relevant.

      I think my personal preference would be family stalls or totally integrated (but a little more private) restrooms. If either gender can use the same toilet at home, certainly either gender can use the same toilet somewhere else.

    • Also – I forgot to mention, thanks for correcting me on the issue at hand. It helps me see the issue to know that the need for a safe restroom is a concern on your side as well as those who fear an open-trans system being abused.

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