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Are Target stores really the biggest threat to women’s safety?
Since April, over a million people have signed an American Family Association (AFA) petition pledging to boycott superstore retail chain Target.
Why? Because the store announced that it welcomed “transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity.” It was a statement in response to a nationwide outcry over North Carolina’s H.B. 2 law and the “bathroom bills” sweeping across other conservative states banning transgender people from doing just that.
But aren’t there worse demons in life besides Target and inclusive bathrooms?
That’s the point made in a new video starring a transgender woman who used the AFA boycott as an example of hypocrisy, pointing to the fact that the justification for anti-trans policies has centered around the supposed safety of women and girls—even though there’s no record of a trans person assaulting a woman in a bathroom.
In the video, the woman—who calls herself simply ‘A’ and chose not to reveal her location for safety reasons—lists off real struggles that women face other than boogeyman bathroom threats. Instead of boycotting Target, A calls for a boycott of domestic violence, the wage gap, law enforcement failures to process rape kits after sexual assault, and even unpopular Florida Gov. Rick Scott.
In a Facebook message, A told the Daily Dot that she wanted a chance to directly respond to the American Family Association since it seemed so interested in her.
“I decided to participate in the video because trans voices should be amplified,” said A. “Especially trans women’s voices, since we’re often at the receiving end of violence because of the hate that groups like the AFA preach. We’re pissed, we are unafraid, and we will not be silent!”
The video was shot in Florida by filmmaker Yeni Sleidi (perhaps best known for creating a parody trailer of the controversial film Stonewall last August), who said she wanted to expose the hypocrisy behind both the AFA boycott and North Carolina’s H.B. 2.
“The people behind these initiatives claim to care about the safety of cisgender [non-trans] women and girls, but they’re not targeting the people who really do them harm,” Sleidi told the Daily Dot. “They’re masking their prejudice as concern, and exploiting victims of sexual assault. Frankly, that’s disgusting.”
Sleidi said that the biggest threats to women’s safety, “cops, family members, and intimate partners,” are seldom penalized for their crimes. She expressed frustration over the silence surrounding these issues while conservative politicians whip people into a frenzy over which toilets transgender people are using to relieve themselves.
In recent weeks, the AFA boycott has also inspired “bathroom bill” supporters to take to Target to express their views: Multiple YouTube videos show Bible-thumping street preachers staging in-store Target protests, some of which have resulted in protestors getting banned from the stores permanently.
“I’d like to hear Tim Wildmon [AFA President] and the politicians who passed H.B. 2 have that conversation,” said Sleidi, “instead of irrationally targeting and endangering trans and gender nonconforming people.”
Mary Emily O'Hara is an LGBTQ reporter. Her work has appeared in Rolling Stone, NBC Out, Daily Dot, Broadly, Vice, the Daily Beast, the Advocate, Huffington Post, DNAinfo, Al Jazeera, and Portland's Pulitzer Prize-winning newsweekly Willamette Week, among other outlets.