Target clarified Tuesday that customers in its stores are free to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity.
The retailer noted in the blog post announcing its stance that the issue has been in the news of late, with many state legislatures debating limiting public restroom use to the gender stated on a person's birth certificate.
Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the policy is not new and the purpose of the announcement was to clarify the retailer's position on the matter amid national debate.
It may be little surprise that Target would take the time and blogging space to reiterate its support of the LGBT community, considering the demographic profile of its typical customer. Target’s average customer is younger and wealthier than Wal-Mart’s by five years and $12,000 annually, according to a 2015 survey of more than 4,000 consumers by consulting firm Kantar Retail. Among the retailers studied by Kantar, which included dollar stores Family Dollar and Dollar General as well as Wal-Mart and Target, millennials most often choose to shop at Target
Millennials especially are more open to the needs of the LGBT community and more likely to be bothered by less tolerant restrictions on issues like bathroom use by transgender people. Most recently, North Carolina passed law a law directing people to use bathrooms coinciding with the gender on their birth certificates, a move that has drawn scrutiny from many companies including PayPal, Salesforce, Apple, and Facebook.
Responding to pressure from customers, Target has also continued and even strengthened its move to eschew gender lines for some children’s categories. In February it unveiled Pillowfort, a gender-neutral home decor line for kids, and it has stopped categorizing toys and games and other home decor lines by gender. While some customers grumbled about the change, the retailer by and large garnered praise for that move.
As it did last summer, Target will likely also suffer yet another backlash to its position stated Tuesday, at least from some quarters, but it has clearly decided that in this case, taking a stand is the smart move.
“In our stores, we demonstrate our commitment to an inclusive experience in many ways,” Target said Tuesday. “Most relevant for the conversations currently underway, we welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity.
“We regularly assess issues and consider many factors such as impact to our business, guests and team members. Given the specific questions these legislative proposals raised about how we manage our fitting rooms and restrooms, we felt it was important to state our position.”