As the battle over transgender rights in America continues, a group of Texas Republicans have released a deeply transphobic ad on YouTube calling for people to boycott Target because of their progressive transgender bathroom policy.
The Conservative Republicans of Texas were responsible for a similarly transphobic campaign that helped to derail Houston's Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), which would have prevented discrimination in housing, employment, and city services in particular.
The bill would have protected not just transgender people but anyone who may have faced discrimination based on sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information or pregnancy. The campaign against it, however, focused just on trans rights.
The latest ad contains similar imagery: a school girl walking into a bathroom is followed in by a man, a sinister soundtrack thumping along in the background. "Protect women's privacy. Prevent danger. Target has gone too far," a woman's voiceover says.
The ads perpetuates the myth that allowing trans people to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity will throw open the door to sexual predators "pretending" to be trans so they can sneak into restrooms and prey on small children. That's a clearly transphobic idea that's been discredited numerous times, and they rely on the underlying assumption that trans people are dangerous sexual predators.
Target announced in April that customers and employees would be allowed to use the bathroom and fitting room that aligns with their gender identity:
We believe that everyone—every team member, every guest, and every community—deserves to be protected from discrimination, and treated equally. Consistent with this belief, Target supports the federal Equality Act, which provides protections to LGBT individuals, and opposes action that enables discrimination.
In our stores, we demonstrate our commitment to an inclusive experience in many ways. 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.
In the two months since, a campaign to boycott the campaign was launched by conservative groups. One woman in Florida said she would bring her gun with her to Target because the policy made her feel unsafe. And yesterday, a bomb went off in a Target bathroom in Evanston, Ill., though it's unclear whether that was related to the company's policy.