What Else Can I Buy at Target?

In the strange debates that can pop up between liberals and conservatives, I often find myself, while not in agreement with conservatives, at least able to see how the point they are making may have come to be or why it might be so important to them. I am married to a conservative, after all. Over the years, I’ve learned a thing or two.

In the current ridiculousness around bathrooms, trangender people, and the fear and suspicion that predators will eagerly take advantage of laws and policies that allow people to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity (which may not be the gender of their birth), dressing up as women to prey on “little girls” in public restrooms, I cannot for the life of me understand how we got here, or wrap my head around the mindset of those who are eager to pass, or support, such bathroom laws and policies.

And, now one of the players in the drama is Target, as Target has decided that employees and customers should be able to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. Conservatives have gone into full protest mode, with conservative groups encouraging a boycott of Target.

I’m with Target. And there I will shop.

This whole bathroom insanity is truly mind-boggling to me. Are these people actually using their brains at all? How exactly are they going to protect the public restrooms of women and “young girls” (Ted Cruz seems especially eager to protect “young girls,” especially since he has a couple of them, who seem to be wandering on a regular basis into public restrooms without their mother or another adult friend or family member) anyway? Shall we “brand” people on the forehead at birth with their gender just so there’s no confusion? Will stores and highway rest areas need to hire security to sit outside rest rooms in order to check ID?

It seems especially ludicrous to dwell on the fears that predators using transgender sensitive policies when there’s absolutely no evidence that such a thing has happened. Where is the fear coming from and why is gaining traction? Hasn’t it occurred to these deeply fearful people that, with or without transgender sensitive bathroom policies, predators can dress up as women and enter public women’s restrooms any time they want?

Ted Cruz likes to refer to “common sense” when he states that we shouldn’t allow adult men to dress up as women in order to prey on little girls in rest rooms. I wonder about his definition of “common sense.” Doesn’t he have even the remotest clue that his precious little girls are actually in way more danger around family, friends and neighbors? According to the US Department of Justice, 90% of child sexual abuse victims know the perpetrator in some way. 68% are abused by a family member. Is it “common sense” to ignore reality?

The so-called Christian American Family Association—that called for the Target boycott—has unleashed a wave of unpleasantness, nonsense and rage. How can these “Christians” opt for fear instead of humanity, hatred instead of love, suspicion instead of knowledge? They seem all too eager to live out of anger and hatred of “others”—before taking even a moment to think.

Thinking is crucial, though, especially in this increasingly complicated and uncertain world. Fear and hatred will not bring back “simpler” times. We must be thoughtful and willing to consider why certain things tap into our fear, knowing that fear can be one of the most dangerous dimensions of our human life. Perhaps that’s why Jesus was always telling those around him not to fear. Sure, it’s easier said than done. But, these days, it seems there lots of “Christians” who refuse even to try, to try not to fear, not to fear that which seems different.  And, that’s harmful for everyone.

About smaxreisert

I'm a United Church of Christ pastor serving the small, faithful Old South Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, in Hallowell, Maine. I was ordained in Massachusetts in 1995, moved to Maine in 1997 and have served the Hallowell church since 2005.
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