business news in context, analysis with attitude

Target Corp. said yesterday that "transgender employees and customers could use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity," not the gender of their birth, according to as Reuters story, which notes that this makes Target "the first big retailer to weigh in on an issue at the center of a heated national debate."

Prompting the announcement is a controversial North Carolina law mandating that transgender people have to use bathrooms corresponding to their birth gender, not gender identity. This law - specifically designed to supersede Charlotte, NC, legislation - is seen by many people as a direct attack on the LGBT community, and there have been several states where similar laws have been under consideration. Proponents of the state law say they are doing it to protect privacy rights and protect women and children from sexual predators.

The Reuters piece states that "Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder said the retailer had already adopted an inclusive stance toward transgender people, but that given the questions it had received on the issue, 'we felt it was important to state our position'."

In fact, the law does not affect private sector businesses, but well over a hundred have gone on the record as saying that they find the law to be in direct opposition to their corporate values.
KC's View:
I said this last week ... that while it can be dangerous for businesses to wade into political debates, it sometimes is necessary, especially when those debates also are cultural in nature. This is one of those cases, when a law seems so rooted in prejudice that companies simply cannot let it go unchallenged.