Right on Target: A look at Transgender Equality

America is once again up in arms. What is it about this time? The inclusion of transgender people. Let me give you some context.

In the last couple of months, some states have been debating and passing (here’s looking at you North Carolina) legislation regarding what bathroom Transgendered individuals are allowed to use. The legislation states that those individuals need to use the bathroom that corresponds with their biological sex, the sex assigned to them at birth. 

The story gets even more complicated because no major corporations are getting involved. Target, the holy grail of sensible shopping, has just come out in support of Transgendered individuals, telling them that in their stores those customers can use whichever bathroom falls in line with their gender identity. A wonderful step towards inclusion that did not necessarily go over well with some of their fan base. Customers started pouring in online, telling the internet how they would no longer shop at Target, and we immediately started getting “think pieces” from every Becky with an account on The Odyssey. Like many debates that have occurred this year, at the heart of the controversy is religious bigotry and ignorance.

The people against Target’s new move and supporters of the HB2 North Carolina bill say they are trying to protect women and children. They are afraid that allowing Transgendered individuals to use the bathroom of their gender identity will make it easier for male rapists to enter a women’s restroom. All they have to do is put on a dress to go in and sexually assault someone.

Despite this being problematic because it reduces being transgendered down to simply putting on a dress, it’s also unfounded. The sad fact is, if someone wants to go into a bathroom and sexually assault a woman, it is going to happen. To fix that we need to address rape culture and misogyny in the world, not attack the Transgender population.

Secondly, a lot of Transgender people experience sexual assault. According to the Office of Justice Programs, one in two Trans indivduals are sexually abused or assaulted in their lifetime. To insinuate that just because of who they are that they will sexually assault someone is disrespectful to ALL survivors of sexual assault. Again, it comes down to a change in American culture.

Another reason Target is being given flack is because the religious right feel like they are being attacked, when in reality they are attacking people. AMERICA IS NOT A CHRISTIAN NATION. You cannot make laws based on the Bible, and you can’t revoke someone’s rights based on what God “said.” By doing that, you make Christian belief the default in this country, and it’s not. Also, your “rights” are not protected when you are infringing upon someone else’s!

This country is full of people from various religious backgrounds. When you make laws based on the Bible, you assume everyone is not just Christian, but the same type of Christian. Christians don’t plainly see a problem with this because right now they are, in many ways, in power and the majority. How would they feel if the country suddenly became predominantly Hindu and started passing laws based on that belief system? The response would be as follows: stop passing laws based on religious belief.

Let me put this into a situation you guys might understand a little easier: let’s say we based admission into buildings in this country on religion. You could not enter a certain building that was designated for Methodists if you were not Methodists, Baptist, and so on. Let’s say you grew up with a deep background as an Episcopalian. Your mother was one, your father was one, and so were their parents. Therefore, you grew up as one too, but you never really felt comfortable there. It wasn’t who you were down at your core; you really felt like you were supposed to Baptist. Being Episcopalian was so far from what you believed and what you felt, you became depressed and came to hate who you are. However, society and the law told you that you HAD to stay Episcopalian. You didn’t ask to be Episcopalian, it was assigned to you at birth. Now you’re stuck being someone that make doesn’t make you happy and makes you uncomfortable. When it comes down to it, this situation is pretty unfair. This is also the exact same situation Trans individuals are placed in. They're just expected to make the best of thier situation, to grin and bear it. 

People really need to start checking their privilege. Culturally and socially, we all occupy various spaces that come with the ability to speak up and feel comfortable in our own skin. EVERYONE IS NOT AFFORDED THAT LUXURY. It’s been said a lot lately: it wasn’t about water fountains in the 60’s and it’s not about bathrooms now. It’s about people attempting to undo years and years of oppression and silencing. We are making history here, so we’re not going to stop.

Also, on a petty note, I want the people who said they aren’t shopping at Target anymore to mean it! MORE DEALS FOR ME.