Target faces backlash on stance on transgender bathrooms

Published May 4, 2016

NEW YORK — Consumer backlash is growing against Target's stance on what type of bathrooms its transgender customers and employees can use.

Two weeks ago, the company said customers and employees can use the restroom or fitting room that "corresponds to their gender identity." The move made Target the first major retailer to take such a prominent position on the issue and won praise from supporters of transgender rights.

But one online petition started by a group called the American Family Association, a conservative Christian advocacy group, calls for a boycott of Target stores. And customer surveys from two research firms separately show that Target's reputation has taken a hit.

Target's statement comes amid a debate over whether to restrict transgender people to using public bathrooms that match the sex listed on their birth certificate. North Carolina is facing heat for its recent ban on local anti-discrimination ordinances. Still, other states are considering similar legislation.

Analysts say other companies are closely watching the debate over the bathroom policy before wading in.