Target Announces Expansion Of Bathroom Options Amid Transgender Debate

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Retail giant Target will add more single-stall bathrooms for privacy in response to a consumer backlash to its policy of allowing customers and employees to use the restroom corresponding to their gender identity.

Target, the big-box retailer that allows transgender customers and employees to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity, is adding another option. The company announced that it will spend $20 million to build more single-stall bathrooms that can be locked for privacy.

Target was the first major retailer to weigh in on the debate spurred by a North Carolina law requiring people to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender at birth. The company announced in April that in the interest of "inclusion" it would be sympathetic to transgender concerns.

Cathy Smith, the chief financial officer of Target, acknowledged in a conference call with reporters that public reaction has been mixed. "Some of our guests clearly are uncomfortable with our policy, and some are supportive," she said.

Some conservative activists called for a boycott of the chain, resulting in an online petition and scattered reports of picketing outside some stores.

But Smith downplayed the idea that the boycott or customer dissatisfaction with the bathroom policy had an impact on sales. "It's difficult to tease out one thing that's driving results," she said.

She was referring to the 7.2 percent drop in sales in the recent quarter.

The bathroom expansion is a relatively minor adjustment. According to Target spokeswoman Katie Boylan, 1,400 of the company's 1,800 stores already have single-occupancy bathrooms. The remaining stores will be outfitted by early 2017.

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