Target’s decision to allow employees and customers to “use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity” is just the latest move in a national conversation on gender that’s boiling over. Target made a strategic business decision designed to win more customers than it loses. Target’s bosses have the right to lead their company as they choose. And customers have the right to shop there or go to Meijer or Wal-Mart. That’s business. But beyond simple commerce there are a few results of Target’s decision that need to be addressed.
- It joins those with gender-identity issues with predators. Because of the size of its company, Target’s decision has taken the national discussion to a new level. And within the conversation those dealing with gender dysphoria and predators are mentioned in the same sentence. This is unfair to those genuinely in the midst of gender-identity confusion. These are real challenges faced by many people. Mark Yarhouse has written sensitively and clearly on this in his book Understanding Gender Dysphoria. Instead of creating an atmosphere where people feel “accepted, respected, and welcomed,” Target has unfairly caused a group of people to be even more misunderstood and feared.
- It creates more vulnerability for women. Not only does Target’s decision lump predators in with those facing gender-identity confusion within the larger discussion, but it genuinely creates a space for women to be preyed upon. The University of Toronto discovered this when it designated dorm restrooms and showers gender-neutral. Surprise! Men tried to film women in the showers by putting their cell phones over adjoining stalls. There are bad men out there. Why would Target create a space where these men have easy access to women in intimate spaces?
- It ignores Target’s family restrooms. This was a policy that was completely unnecessary. In response to criticism over the decision a Target spokeswoman pointed people who are uncomfortable with the policy to its single-stall family restrooms. But wouldn’t it have been just as easy to allow transgendered employees and customers to use these restrooms instead of inviting them into the larger restrooms?
- It may hurt more than it helps. Dr. Paul McHugh is a highly respected psychiatrist from Johns Hopkins. He’s not motivated by religion or political ideology. He’s simply a scientist who says decades of interacting with people who claim to be transgendered has shown him that when people are supported in their transition to their non-biological sex or gender there is often more pain for them and their family. In fact, Johns Hopkins stopped doing gender reassignment surgeries because the psychological outcomes for the patients were so poor. Instead, he encourages supporting these men and women in getting the help they need to stay in their birth gender.
- It continues the narrative that gender distinctions don’t matter. This is just the latest policy change in Target’s campaign to erase gender distinctions. The underlying policy downplays the scientific reality of distinctions in sex and gender. Men are men. Women are women. And God created them this way for a reason. I don’t expect Target to make its policies based on the Bible. But Christians need to explain how precious sex and gender distinctions are. God loves people and created them “male and female” in order to allow them to understand how the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit are in relationship with one another. Certainly theirs is not a sexual relationship. But God creates people equal in value, but different in important ways in order to help us understand Him better. This needs to be celebrated!