Why I signed the pledge to boycott Target

Target's rainbow bullseye logo

What this post isn’t: It isn’t a political debate. It isn’t a religious debate. It isn’t a cultural debate. It isn’t a debate at all.

It’s not often I post something that is super-charged with emotion swinging from every side. Today solidified something for me on this issue and I am compelled to share it.

I’ve kept up with the news about the public restroom situation in this country. I’ve followed it on a national, state and local level. In the end, I am still confused, particularly with Target. I read their recent public statement, but wanted to hear their policy for myself so I went to Target in person hoping for some clarification.

I asked to speak to the store manager. They called for a woman I’ve seen in Target for years. As soon as I asked my question, “Would you please explain your restroom policy to me?” she completely, physically backed away and said I would need to speak to the store manager (that’s who I asked for in the first place, so not sure about the chain of command). She turned around and practically ran from me. Something I’ve never seen her do in all the years I’ve shopped there.

They called for the store manager and in a matter of moments we were shaking hands. I purposefully relaxed myself, leaning on the garbage can near customer service. I didn’t want her to think I was there to debate or make a scene (which I wasn’t). I repeated my question to her. Her response, “All I can do is refer you to a phone number from corporate to listen to their position on the matter.”

I asked the same question several different ways, hoping to receive more clarification than I need to call corporate. “If I need to go to the bathroom, you are saying I have to call a number first to help me decide if I want to go in the restroom?” “Is a man allowed in this store’s restroom?” The conversation was so difficult it was like we were speaking two different languages. We, in fact, were.

After struggling to get a clear answer, I smiled and said gently, “Please, just talk to me person-to-person.” Her whole demeanor relaxed except her facial expression. She pulled her long hair forward, stroked it nervously and said that she totally understood my concern, but that she isn’t able to discuss the matter. That’s interesting because at that point I had not told her my concern, just asking questions for clarification on their store’s policy. See, that’s the other language I didn’t understand.

I asked, “Have you changed the signs on the restrooms?” “No. Corporate hasn’t sent anything to us about that.”

My next question was with all sincerity because I don’t fully understand all of this…”Does Target’s policy usurp the law? I understand where states have put into place a law about gender-neutral restrooms, but in this city, which I can only speak for, we have a law that protects restrooms. This is what I don’t understand. Is Target’s policy as a private business now above the law on this issue?” She said she couldn’t answer this question or any of my questions. There’s the language barrier again.

Our conversation was painful of both of us. In the end, I replied, “I understand you are doing your job. However, I came here needing answers for an important issue for me. I’m still as confused as I was when I walked in. You can’t tell me anything. I get that. But it just seems so ridiculous that we can’t talk about using the bathroom without the conversation being censored by corporate. I’ve shopped in this store for almost 20 years. It’s my happy place. I like the environment. It gives me a department store feel for my everyday household needs. I like the clothes, the atmosphere. Everything. (She smiled.) But the truth is, after our conversation, based on what you cannot talk about, my unanswered questions and the fact that you are only allowed to say what has been told you may say (she said that earlier), I simply no longer feel safe in this store. I do not feel protected in any way. Corporate has such a stronghold, I doubt the power this store has to handle itself. There are so many unsettling things happening in this world, I am shocked Target has chosen to jump in the ring over this. I am saddened. I’d rather shop here than at other superstores, but the fact is I can get my laundry detergent anywhere. And so I will. After almost 20 years I will no longer shop at Target until they choose to value ALL of its customers’ personal safety.

She genuinely looked sad and apologized. I believe she felt torn over the issue.

I called the phone number the store gave me. 1-800-440-0680. Hmm. I was told it was the number to answer my questions so I asked my original question, “Can you please explain your restroom policy to me?”

Her response, “We welcome transgender men to enter the ladies’ restroom. So if a person was born one way, but now feels they are something different, they can choose the restroom they want to enter, whichever they identify with.” (I found it interesting she targeted men in her verbiage.)

“How are you going to oversee this policy so that other people aren’t abusing this policy with ill intentions?”

“We have no way of doing that at this time.”

“So, you’ve allowed anyone to enter any restroom without anyway of knowing if they are being honest or not?”

“No ma’am, I’m sorry.”

“So you made a blanket policy without having any way to enforce it for it’s original intent?”

“No ma’m. I have no other details I can offer at this time.”

“But, I was told to call this number for clarification?”

“I have no other details to offer at this time.”

“My next question, does Target enforce this policy in states where there are laws protecting us from it?”

“I have no other details at this time. You may want to call your state government.”

“I really need Target to answer, not my state government. Target has put a policy in place in states where it is against the law. Does Target feel it’s above the law?”

“I have no other details to offer at this time.”

“But I was told you could help clarify because I need these questions answered so I can decide where to shop.”

“I have no other details to offer at this time. We are simply taking down customers comments and sharing them with leadership.”

“Okay. Well, I am very disappointed you could not answer my questions, so here are my two comments I’d like you to record for leadership: One, I will no longer shop at Target because I no longer feel safe. This isn’t about politics, religion or culture. It’s about my personal safety, and nothing Target has said to me either in person or on this phone call has helped me feel any safer. Two, it seems Target made a huge, company-wide decision without any type of plan to oversee it. You have told me there is no way to enforce the honesty of transgender people with the dishonesty of others. How can I feel safe? Buying toilet paper at Target is not worth the risk of getting sexually assaulted – ever. Tell corporate that they’ve lost a loyal customer because they made a decision that they have no idea how to carry out for the benefit of everyone. I will not shop at ANY store where I feel my safety is at risk. I will no longer shop at Target until they reverse their policy.”

What amazes me is that they have one-stall restroom by the pharmacy that is open for anyone to use. Even on Black Friday there is never such a rush on restrooms where this one-stall restroom would not be sufficient.

Here are my three reasons why I will not shop at Target –

#1 – They put in place a nation-wide store policy, with disregard to the law, that they have no clue how to properly enforce – a policy which personally affects my physical safety every single time I visit Target.

#2 – They have neither equipped their store management nor corporate call centers to handle this properly. Both are under such a heavy gag-order by corporate they cannot answer simple questions about the policy. Simple, but important, questions such as how are they going to make sure people are not abusing their new policy?

They make sure other security measures are in place. There is a plan for shoplifting including security cameras and prosecuting offenders. There is a plan for emergency weather, emergency first aid, lost children and security threats to the store.

What is the plan for those who will abuse this policy and enter restrooms for the sole purpose of sexually assaulting women and children; videoing and photographing them using the bathroom (which both have already been done numerous times now with the new transgender restroom issue; protecting young eyes from those who wish to expose themselves to children; from ptsd situations for the 1 in 3 women who have already been sexually assaulted in our country; the sheer intimidation factor of having the opposite sex in the restroom; not to mention the privacy factor, especially for women who need to change out pads and tampons as well as a personal privacy for restroom issues without the embarrassment of having the opposite sex present?

Target has absolutely zero plan of action on enforcing their new policy, which leads me to my third and most important reason why I will not shop at Target anymore as long as they allow men in women’s bathrooms…

#3 – When (not if) a problem arises in a Target restroom, store management has NO authority or plan on how to handle it.

Clearly, Target is not looking out for the entire demographic of its customers.

After speaking to two managers and the corporate call center (the only option they could refer me to), the unbelievable truth is that they have no plan to protect women and children. Zero. We are on our own. So, when an incident occurs, what would management do? It’d be the woman’s word against the man’s. It is obvious Target would side with the man as soon as he cited “transgender” regardless if he is or not. This title is a free pass for any man, teenager or boy, to have free reign in a woman’s restroom.

Everyone from predators to boys on a dare can now do whatever they want in a women’s restroom and have been given full permission and protection by Target.

What happens when a transgender male is followed into the women’s restroom by a man who wants to do him harm? Transgender people aren’t protected either under Target’s store policy!

Where is my protection as a woman? Where is the protection for little girls AND little boys not old enough to enter the men’s restroom by themselves.

Target has miserably failed its customers. They reacted too quickly to an issue they have no plan on how to implement for the protection of all.

Because of their haphazard decision without a plan for protection of all of its customers, there is no way I am darkening their door. Why will I knowingly go somewhere I am not valued and my safety is not a concern? Target sells nothing I cannot buy anywhere else.

Wow. I really wanted a productive dialogue with Target. All three times I was left with the same response, “Corporate will not let me comment.” Again, WHEN incidents occur, they have not given local managers the authority to handle even a simple conversation about it, so why in the world would I have confidence that management would handle the incident more than referring me to another 800 number?

I will gladly give my business to stores that value the personal safety of all of its customers. That’s also why online shopping is so great. Avoid the whole issue altogether. However, Target’s online store has also lost my business for the sheer fact they’ve decided not to value me as a customer.

Why did Target pick a fight with me, an ordinary, yet loyal, customer? It’s a lose-lose for both of us.

Since Target refuses to protect the safety of all of its customers, I will gladly give my dollars and customer loyalty to its competitors. If you are so inclined. feel free to sign the pledge here.

As much as I will miss my Target runs, I value my physical safety, and the physical safety of my family WAY MORE. That’s a no-brainer. Hopefully Target will see that they had already accommodated all customers with their one-stall restroom that allows 100% privacy.

Until then, Target missed the target of what they were trying to accomplish. I hope Target rethinks its reckless policy, lack of a plan to carry it out, and the removal of physical safety for every customer who enters its store.

Picture frames, greeting cards, paper plates and fabric softener are not worth altering any future forever by becoming victims of sexual crimes, bullying or permanent emotional distress simply because we needed to go to the bathroom.