Target emphasized its support for inclusivity, when reiterating its policy welcoming transgender staffers and customers to use the restroom of their gender identity on Tuesday. The retailer also included a reminder in its comms that it had a federal right to make such a decision under the Equality Act.
Target’s stance was communicated in a post on its corporate site on Tuesday. The retailer remained silent on the issue on its social media channels. Target declined to comment on the strategy behind the statement’s release.
The statement follows a series of "religious freedom" laws passed by state legislatures, most notably in Mississippi and North Carolina. One key provision of North Carolina’s HB2 law, which forces transgender students in public schools and universities to use bathrooms corresponding with the gender on their birth certificate, is facing scrutiny in the appeals process.
But the posture assumed by the retailer in its statement lacked the aggression of its loudest detractors, ending on a soft note: "Everyone deserves to feel like they belong. And you’ll always be accepted, respected and welcomed at Target."
A blog post by The Political Insider, in contrast, called the decision "horrible."
"Now in Target stores, men are allowed to use the restroom next to your daughter," the post said. "Once called perverted, this is now a ‘civil right.’ The left has always won on gay marriage, and now they are slowly making more perverted things acceptable."
The public’s reaction on social media to Target’s announcement ran the gamut from calls to boycott to celebration.
Nice! Thank you Target. It all boils down to equality. https://t.co/7nEK1bMQWT— Tamira Ci Thayne (@tamirathayne) April 20, 2016
But Target has courted controversy in the past with its social positions. Its decision to abolish gender-specific signs for certain areas of its stores produced one of last year’s most memorable viral moments, when professional troll Mike Melgaard posed as a customer service rep. He fielded questions and attacks from outraged customers with sly digs.
Shortly after the mischief, Target responded. Fast-forward to this year’s announcement and Melgaard appears to have remained true to his antics.