Trans Folks Free to Pee at Starbucks, Saks, Barnes & Noble

Starbucks

After big-box retailer Target made headlines by reaffirming its long-standing trans-inclusive restroom policy last month, several other national chains are promising that customers and employees can use the restroom that best matches their gender identity at stores nationwide. 

Representatives with Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, and Hudson’s Bay Co. — which operates high-end department stores Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor — all confirmed to USA Today “that employees and customers in their stores are welcome to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with.”

International coffee conglomerate Starbucks has long been outspoken about its support for LGBT people and equality, and a spokesperson told USA Today the Seattle-based chain is currently evaluating which stores are able to implement gender-neutral signage on restrooms. 

Bookseller Barnes & Noble told the national paper that as a company, it strives to treat “all employees with dignity and respect.” “For our transgender employees and customers, that means they are allowed to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with,” spokeswoman Mary Ellen Keating told USA Today. 

Hudson’s Bay Co. spokeswoman Tiffany Bourré said that her company and the stores it operates “respects and affirms each person’s right to self-identify and access facilities that reflect their gender identity.”

The paper reached out to several national chains amid a nationwide conversation about where transgender people should be allowed to relieve themselves, sparked by an onslaught of anti-trans legislation introduced in more than 20 states this year. 

Representatives with Sears Holdings, which the paper notes operates Sears and Kmart stores, didn’t directly discuss trans bathroom access but touted the company’s “strict policies against discrimination and harassment of any kind.” USA Today did not receive a response to similar inquiries made to Macy’s, Whole Foods, Walmart, and shopping center management company Simon Property Group. 

Target initially clarified its policy — that trans customers and patrons are free to use the restroom that best matches their gender identity, just like cisgender (nontrans) patrons — as a response to North Carolina’s passage of a sweeping anti-LGBT law known as House Bill 2. The law, which the federal Department of Justice has denounced as a violation of federal civil rights protections, bars transgender people from using restrooms, locker rooms, or other sex-segregated facilities that match their gender identity when those facilities are in government buildings. It also rescinds all existing LGBT nondiscrimination protections statewide, bars localities from adopting their own protections, and removes the ability for residents to file discrimination complaints in state court.

Upset at Target's trans-affirming policy, anti-LGBT hate groups have targeted the retailer for boycotts, and recently admitted that they are sending cisgender men "pretending" to be transgender into women's restrooms as a way to "test" the store's policy. Other individuals angered by Target's trans-inclusive stance have caused disturbances in bathrooms and in the aisles of stores throughout the country, often quoting Bible verses that they believe condemn the existence of LGBT people.

In reality, while more than 200 jurisdictions nationwide have policies on the books that allow trans people to use the facilities that match their gender identity, there has never been a single verified instance where a trans person has assaulted a cisgender person. Law enforcement officials across the country have soundly rejected the theory that trans-inclusive policies will predicate an uptick in sexual assault in bathrooms or anywhere else. 

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