Over the past week, hundreds of thousands have pledged to boycott Target over their inclusive bathroom policy, which welcomes transgender folks to use the restroom or fitting rooms that correspond with their gender identity.
On April 21, a father by the name of Izzy Avraham made a defiant public post on Facebook that went viral in which he and his daughter confront Target employees about their new policy. A particular acquaintance of mine re-posted it, stating that this was an example of “a good father” who “lets his daughter come to her own conclusions.”
The original post is a photo of this father and his daughter in front of a Target, with the accompanying text:
Tirzah and I went to #Target this morning.
I explained to her on the way how some men think they’re women and wear dresses and makeup and want to use the women’s washrooms instead of the men’s. I asked her what she thought of that. She said, “That’s weird.” And was quiet for abit [sic]. Then she said, “If a man walked into the women’s washroom I’d fight him until he got out!”
We kept talking and I explained to her that we should be kind and loving to everyone, because everybody is a person with a heart and feelings. But that you can also disagree with the way they’re acting, and think it’s weird.
So we got to Target and introduced ourselves to the manager. I asked her on a practical level how Target’s policy worked out if my six-year-old daughter walked into the women’s restroom and someone with a biologically male body walked in behind her. She said Target has always had a policy of non-discrimination, and that if parents had concerns we could use the family rooms, or Tirzah could come in the men’s washroom with me. I told her that as a concerned dad, I’m uncomfortable with Target’s decision to allow people with male bodies in the women’s washrooms. And that we think it’s weird. We thanked her and left. I kept the whole conversation really polite and as relaxed as possible.
So here’s what so wrong about this. Target’s recent ‘inclusivity’ announcement concludes by saying “Everyone deserves to feel like they belong. And you’ll always be accepted, respected and welcomed at Target.” Really? Telling me you’re ok with men walking into the bathroom behind my baby girl actually doesn’t make me feel like I belong. It didn’t make her feel like she belonged either, to hear the manager tell us that in person. Basically Target just told us – and millions of concerned parents – that we’re no longer accepted, respected, and welcome in their stores.
My friends, Target has crossed a line, and I believe this is a test case. If you’re a concerned parent I invite you to do three things. 1. Share this story. 2. Then go to your nearest Target and do exactly what we did. 3. Then share your story, and use this hashtag: #byetarget
To be clear, I’m sure that Izzy loves his daughter very much, and I don’t doubt that he would do anything for her.
His post was shared over 68,000 times, and as of this writing has over 26,000 comments. On various websites and ‘news’ services, he has been called a “hero dad,” and his story has been called “compelling.”
Izzy is not a hero dad — not in this instance, anyway. Nor is his story compelling.
This is not “a good father, letting his daughter come to her own conclusion.” This is a father baiting his daughter with a loaded question intended to provoke a response that mirrors his own fear of otherness. This is a father acquiescing to a first grader’s understanding of gender identity and biology. As much good as Izzy feels he is doing, he is failing his daughter.
Parenting means not always letting our children come to their own conclusions. If a child were to think that eating vegetables is weird, that black people are scary, and that the elderly are gross, it’s our job as parents to help her navigate these prejudices, to better understand the world and its people, to encourage empathy and critical thinking.
A good father might react with some variation of the following:
“Well, I understand how you would be scared if a man came into the girl’s restroom, and you would want to let me or an authority figure know immediately if you were ever made to feel uncomfortable in a public restroom. But there are some people who, when they are born, it’s not entirely clear if they are a boy or a girl. Their doctors may make a mistake and say they are a boy when they really are a girl, or vice versa. This is called intersex, and it is something that happens sometimes. Some people may be born a girl, but everything about their very being makes them feel that they are actually a boy. This is called gender dysphoria, and it happens sometimes. Most transgender people will look completely normal, and not weird at all.
I understand how you might think it sounds weird, but most transgender people look like the gender that they identify with, and we shouldn’t be afraid of them just because they are different than we are. It’s not okay to be afraid of someone just because we think they are different.
It might be uncomfortable to be near someone with cerebral palsy, but they shouldn’t scare you.
Same goes for people of other races, or religions — some people wear religious clothing that may look strange to us, but that doesn’t mean we should be afraid of them. Most likely, you have been in the bathroom with transgender people in the women’s room before. But I bet you didn’t notice, because they have a lot of the characteristics you would expect of a girl or a woman. If they were forced to use the restroom that corresponds with their birth gender, now that might look weird. Can you imagine a big muscular man with a beard coming into the women’s room? That’s what many transgender men (people who were born a girl, but feel and look more like a boy) look like. If they used the men’s room, that would be best for them and for the people using the restroom with them.
Let me know if you have any questions. I know it sounds complicated — because it is. But at the end of the day, we should understand that everyone is born different and usually there’s no reason to feel they are weird, especially after we learn more about them.”
I think a good father might say something like that.