Over the last couple of weeks people have been in a bit of a frenzy of Target’s new policy that welcomes transgendered individuals into whichever bathroom and changing room best fits their “gender identity.” Appropriately, people are outraged. Recent reports have over 1,000,000 people signing a petition to no longer shop at Target and Target’s stocks seem to be suffering as well.
All of this raises questions about some pretty basic terms that are constantly being used to justify really stupid decisions. In the end, we realize that our attempts at stopping one thing, unwittingly finds us supporting another. With that, Hulk wants to examine Target’s “Stand for Inclusivity” policy word for word.
Inclusivity, Equality, and Equity – Best Two Out of Three?
One of the problems that our culture seems to be having of late is understanding that words actually have objective, generally agreed upon, meanings. Yes, words change their meaning over time, but at any given moment words carry both a meaning, and an anti-meaning. What I mean by anti-meaning is that words both mean and do not mean certain things. For example, the word “round” has a meaning, and that meaning is not square. With that in mind, let’s look at paragraph one of Target’s policy:
Recent debate around proposed laws in several states has reignited a national conversation around inclusivity. So earlier this week, we reiterated with our team members where Target stands and how our beliefs are brought to life in how we serve our guests.
Inclusivity is a core belief at Target. It’s something we celebrate. We stand for equality and equity, and strive to make our guests and team members feel accepted, respected and welcomed in our stores and workplaces every day. -Target
At the outset, the policy seems fairly benign. However, as you begin to examine the words in bold, you start to see an inherent problem emerging. First, Target emphasizes “inclusivity” as a “core belief” that they “celebrate.” What is inclusivity? According to Google, inclusivity is,
“policy of including people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who are handicapped or learning-disabled, or racial and sexual minorities.”
Further, they go on to say that they stand for “equality” and “equity.” Equality here referring to treating all people the same and equity no doubt referring to being fair in our treatment of others. It’s at this juncture that we begin to see the problem emerging. See, these three words alone produce an impossible scenario. Can I treat everybody equally” and still be fair? Can I include everybody in everything and still treat them equally? Finally, can I be fair to everyone while including them in everything?
Upon first glance you might think, “Sure, Why not.” So let me illustrate the problem more specifically using the items above in specific examples.
If I allow everyone into every bathroom, is that fair to everyone?
If I allow everyone into every bathroom, is that treating them all equally?
Am I being fair to everyone, if I let everyone into every bathroom?
The answer to all three of those questions is a resounding, “NO.” This has been accented by the massive number of people who now, ironically, feel “excluded” by Target’s commitment to “inclusivity.”
Accepted, Respected, and Welcomed
The problem becomes more pointed when we highlight the last portion of the above quote regarding Target’s desire to make all guests and team members “feel accepted, respected, and welcomed.”
The problem, again, is that you simply cannot make everyone feel this way, and frankly you shouldn’t want to. Taken at face value it seems like a solid set of values. However, does Target want pedophiles to feel welcomed into the same bathroom as little children? Do they want rapists to feel “accepted, respected, and welcomed” in their changing rooms? I would certainly hope not!
This demonstrates the absurdity of a pursuit of total inclusivity, total equality, and total equity. Frankly, it is NOT a good thing to treat everyone the same. I hate to be crass, but it is not right to tell handicap people they must use stairs. That’s why we accommodate them in their plight in an effort to be inclusive. Notice, though, that in our effort to include them, we cannot treat them equally. In order to do the right thing, we must sacrifice equality for equity and inclusion. Target’s policy goes on to say,
We believe that everyone—every team member, every guest, and every community—deserves to be protected from discrimination, and treated equally. Consistent with this belief, Target supports the federal Equality Act, which provides protections to LGBT individuals, and opposes action that enables discrimination.
In our stores, we demonstrate our commitment to an inclusive experience in many ways. Most relevant for the conversations currently underway, we welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity.
The overarching principle that Target has completely overlooked is this: You can’t protect everyone, include everyone, and treat everyone equally. It is Impossible. In an effort to be inclusive to the transgender community, they have ceased to treat the rest of us with equity and equality. Subsequently, in an effort to make the transgendered community feel accepted, respected, and welcomed, they have made a much larger community feel rejected, disrespected, and unwelcome.
In an attempt to keep their policy, they have broken it tenfold. In an effort to protect the LGBT community from discrimination, they have discriminated against the non-LGBT community. By offering comfort to the transgendered, they provide only discomfort for the non-transgendered. In catering to the feelings of one group, they have totally disregarded the feelings of another.
Should Everyone Feel Like They Belong?
Target closes their policy by saying this,
We regularly assess issues and consider many factors such as impact to our business, guests, and team members. Given the specific questions these legislative proposals raised about how we manage our fitting rooms and restrooms, we felt it was important to state our position.
Everyone deserves to feel like they belong. And you’ll always be accepted, respected and welcomed at Target.
While Target says this, I guarantee they don’t really mean it. You know how I know they don’t mean it? Back in 2014, Target put out a similar press release requesting people not “open carry” firearms EVEN in stores located in States where it’s legal. Here’s the statement from interim CEO John Mulligan,
As you’ve likely seen in the media, there has been a debate about whether guests in communities that permit “open carry” should be allowed to bring firearms into Target stores. Our approach has always been to follow local laws, and of course, we will continue to do so. But starting today we will also respectfully request that guests not bring firearms to Target – even in communities where it is permitted by law.
I thought Target celebrated inclusivity and treated people equally and with equity? I thought they wanted everyone to feel like they belong, like they are welcomed, accepted, and respected? Maybe there is hope for Target after all. Maybe they do actually understand that they can’t treat everyone equally and with equity, while at the same time including them in everything.
At the end of the day, you can’t have complete equality, inclusivity, and equity, and “everyone” never really means “EVERY…one.”