In the wake of a commotion by the American Civil Liberties Union, Walgreens is allowing any customer to use whatever bathroom their little heart — or gender identity — desires.
According to NBC News, the policy — which actually dates back to November, “All individuals have a right to use restroom facilities that correspond to the individual’s gender identity, regardless of the individual’s sex assigned at birth.”
“Walgreens family of companies subscribes to a policy of non-discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression/presentation,” the statement adds.
The policy announcement happened after the ACLU’s Southern California chapter intervened last year in the case of Jessie Meehan — a man living as if he’s a woman.
According to NBC, Meehan “was on her way to a Los Angeles LGBTQ pride festival last year when she stopped at a Walgreens in Hollywood.
“After spending approximately $20 in the store, she asked a sales associate to open one of the bathrooms for her. Meehan said the employee refused to allow her in the women’s restroom and instead insisted Meehan use the men’s facility. The store manager, according to ACLU SoCal, agreed with the sales associate and denied Meehan use of the women’s bathroom.” It didn’t take long for Meehan to contact ACLU SoCal, and make this video.
After discussions between Walgreens and ACLU SoCal, the eventual policy was hammered out.
This probably shouldn’t be surprising, considering that Walgreens was on the Human Rights Campaign’s “20 Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality” for 2018 (along with Target, natch).
However, if you think this is only about LGBTQ rights, think again. We’ve chronicled numerous times where men have threatened women and children in public bathrooms, or how individuals have abused Target’s transgender dressing room policies and have committed alleged acts of voyeurism.
As counterintuitive as it may sound, transgender bathroom policies have very little to do with transgender individuals. I worked in retail while I was in school in the days long before transgender bathrooms were a thing. However, I was in a position where I would have heard of or seen any sort of person being denied entry to the restroom.
In my time there, I never heard of a case of someone who looked even remotely like the gender of the bathroom they were trying to use get stopped by anyone. I can remember, however, a small but significant number of men — and it was always men — who were either mentally unbalanced or potential sexual predators and decided to use the women’s restroom for untoward purposes.
No, we never had any cases of rape or molestation, although there were a few instances of sexual harassment and intimidation. These were quickly dealt with by security to the best of their ability.
For anyone worried that what happened to this individual is a widespread phenomenon, at a practical level, it would be impossible for any store to have someone stand by the entrance to the bathroom and check driver’s licenses to make sure the individual in question legally fit the gender of the bathroom in question.
What happened at Walgreens seems to be an aberration, particularly since the bathrooms themselves were locked. In a Walgreens where the stores aren’t locked, this wouldn’t be a problem.
As much as I really do feel for transgender individuals, this policy isn’t about them. It’s about the fact that anyone can use whatever bathroom they like. Most of the time, those using bathrooms that don’t correspond to their biological sex are transgender individuals, and almost all of the time they aren’t stopped. In rare cases, this policy is taken advantage of by individuals whose reason for being in a bathroom intended for the opposite sex is far more iniquitous than using the sink or the toilet.
This, on its face, puts people — women and girls — in danger. Stores are either going to have to find a way to deal with this danger or deal with the mass exodus of customers that Target saw when they implemented this policy. You can bet that now that the policy is out of the bag, a boycott is coming quickly.
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