I’m a 59-year-old transgender woman (born as male, transitioned to female) who lately has been feeling embattled by all of the “bathroom bills” that seek to force me to use men’s public restrooms. I’d like to think that I’m a really good person, but it really wears at one to daily — sometimes hourly — hear how I’m actually a pedophile who wants to attack little girls in the women’s restroom.
At least that’s the claim of conservative legislators and religious leaders from many states. (I lost count at 16 states and 44 separate proposed bathroom bills, including two in Minnesota.) This is on top of the reality that transgender people have legal rights in only 18 states and Washington, D.C.
Given this, you can imagine how affirming and heartwarming it was to hear two weeks ago that Target Corp. wanted transgender people across the country to know that restrooms in Target stores would be accessible to transgender people on the basis of how they identify according to gender, rather than according to the sex listed on their birth certificate.
Target’s public announcement in favor of transgender people — in favor of me — is nothing short of incredible. This is business bravery to the nth degree. It’s also a move that will save lives.
Clearly, the transgender community has become the societal flash point for many who view our acceptance and inclusivity as just another example of “political correctness.” We’ve become the poster child for what’s supposedly wrong with liberal America and the reason to bolster conservative organization ranks and coffers.
In reality, most of the people seeking to demean me and other transgender people have absolutely no idea of what it means to actually be transgender. Nor do they appreciate the challenges and difficulty of being true to one’s self and what it takes to transition genders so as to finally live as a complete and authentic human.
Target does understand. And for that — for having my back — I am so incredibly grateful.
But Target’s brave stand has much deeper implications. As an older person, I’ve developed the skill set and perspective to withstand the barrage of negativity leveled at transgender people. (Imagine not being able to visit — let alone live in — two states because you can’t legally use the public restrooms.)
Younger people, such as a transgender teenager, have no such skill set or perspective. Indeed, in many places around the country, those young people have no support systems of any kind — no therapists, doctors or school systems that are compassionate and educated about what it means to be “trans.” For them, hearing that Target is welcoming and accepting is the equivalent of a beacon on a dark and stormy sea.
In other words, Target offers hope, and, frankly, hope is what everyone in the transgender community needs right now.
Hope keeps people alive. It’s that simple.
As a transgender human and an American, I say “thank you” to Target Corp. and its team members for standing up for me.
Please know that your brave action matters to many.
Ellen Krug, of Minneapolis, is a lawyer and author.