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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

I Went To Target And Someone Made Me Feel Uncomfortable In The Restroom

I went to Target with my daughter last week, and since it was right after dinner and I'd had three iced-teas with my mexican food, I made a pit stop in the restroom first thing while she went on ahead to check out the swimsuits.

I was alone in the restroom. There were two large handicap-access stalls complete with baby changing tables, and two regular stalls. I headed all the way down to the furthest single stall, up against the wall, and I sat down to take care of business.

That's when stuff got weird.

The outer door opened and someone came in. She walked past the three open stalls, and stood directly in front of my door. Then she leaned over, and placed her eye firmly up against the gap between the door and the frame, and stared in at me.

I am not making this up. And let me tell you, it was awkward. Bizarre, even. This wasn't a case of someone hoping all those occupied stalls aren't really occupied. I was the only stall that was occupied. She deliberately stopped and stared in at me. My startled eyes met hers, and she moved away, into one of the larger stalls.

I got out of my stall as quickly as I could, and as I stood washing my hands, her voice called out.

"Sorry about that," she said. "But you know, Target lets men and homosexuals use just any bathroom now. I was making sure you were a woman."

I didn't say a word, because I really didn't know how to answer that.

Was she expecting a transgender woman to be lying in wait, hoping to...what? Urinate differently behind a closed door? Was a pedophile or a rapist in a dress and a bad wig going to crawl under the stall walls while she sat, even though this is a public restroom in a very busy and popular store when anyone - including employees with walkie-talkies - could walk in at any time and catch them? And don't even get me started about the homosexuals. I guess she's just worried they'll leave homosexual germs around or something.

I walked out, utterly gobsmacked, and it wasn't until I caught up with my daughter and told her the whole ridiculous story that I realized the complete and utter irony of it. This woman deliberately made me feel horribly uncomfortable just because she was uncomfortable with the extremely vague possibility of someone being different than expected - behind a closed and locked stall door.

My daughter raised a brow and asked, "Did you tell her that your teenage daughter has a girlfriend?"

"She probably would have blinded me with hand sanitizer or something," I joked.

Anna just shrugged. "I feel sorry for her. I mean, with everything going on in the world, this is what makes her afraid? She doesn't even know how creepy she's being."

Come on...the woman had to know she was being creepy. And it was really, really creepy. She just didn't care. Either she had an agenda to let me know she was taking a certain "moral" stance about a new policy, or she really is afraid enough to do something rude and creepy even though she knows it's rude and creepy.

And in the end....she was still shopping at Target, because she needed or liked their products and her fear didn't stop her from shopping. And transgendered men and women are quietly and without fanfare using the restroom they want to use and going on about their day and probably most people don't even know they did it. And the pedophiles and rapists of the world will still find a way to hurt people, as they always have, policy or no policy.

And me? I'm still thinking about how ridiculous the whole thing was. My mind runs through all the snappy comebacks I should have used on her, but didn't. I should have blown her a kiss. Or mooned her through the crack of her door. I should have told her I used to be a man named Brutus but I bought the new do-it-yourself transgender kit that Target stocks on aisle seven.

Mostly, though, I think about my wise and beautiful daughter. The one with the girlfriend. She feels sorry for that woman. She chose compassion instead of offense, or rudeness, or insult.

But I still wish I'd blown a kiss.

[This post went unexpectedly viral. Read my follow-up here.]


  1. You have raised her right. I'm sorry for those people who think that a law will keep predators out of bathrooms when it didn't before. I'm sorry that a particularly vulnerable group of people are the target of such hate when they deserve compassion even more than the average person. Peace to you and your daughter. May more people choose the road of compassion instead of condemnation.

  2. Way beyond creepy, it's illegal. No one has the right to "make sure" you're a woman by invading your privacy, and spying on you in a bathroom stall is no more legal for her than for anyone else. I would have raised an unholy ruckus.

  3. You could have them arrested for peeping.

  4. Another vital and interesting tidbit of information to arm yourself with should you ever encounter another woman like this... That Target policy "change" was never announced as a policy change because it wasn't a change at all. It's a policy that's been in place for SEVEN years now. They just this year decided with all the anti-TG/bathroom hate that's going on in the world, they would announce their [pre-existing] policy so they TG community would know they had a friend in Target. (I'm sure it was also for free PR but still, I commend them for it).
    Nobody was attacking anyone in the ladies' room over the past 7 years since the beginning of the policy in 2009 and they aren't going to start now just because haters know about it.

    SHE invaded YOUR privacy in an effort to confirm her own. SHE's the aggressor here and it's people like her who will make everyone feel unsafe in ladies' bathrooms.

  5. Dumb fake story... Saw it on "SheKnows" and there are a LOT of people saying "totally fake to either make a name for yourself or further your agenda"

    1. My only agenda that day was using the restroom. She had a different agenda, and we disagreed. Whoever she is, I wish her some peace in her life.

    2. I am on your side on this issue. But I can see why people like Anonymous might suspect the story is fake. It seems very coincidental and very convenient that this happened to a writer. But that's not reason enough to disbelieve it or impugn your integrity.

  6. You brave woman, I would have called security on her ass. Praise the heavens she didn't find an actual transgender person in there! What would have she done then, stare them out of the place? They have every right to be there, even moreso than this nutjob. (I am still wondering what the heck do homosexuals have to do with bathroom laws...)

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    2. That was the whole kicker for me with this incident. If she'd only said she was nervous about the Target policy and checking to see if I'm a man, I would have rolled my eyes and shrugged it off. But since when are homosexuals not allowed to use the bathroom anywhere but Target? If she hadn't thrown that down, I would have been a little more understanding. I get that people are concerned about men masquerading as transgender in the bathroom - I'm a mom myself. I see their angle, but Target's policy doesn't preclude all the laws we have on the books against anyone harassing or photographing you in a restroom. I would think any parent would keep an eye on young kids and teach older kids how to look out for people who shouldn't be in your private space. But homosexuals? What has that got to do with that argument in any way? That's what made me think this woman has more issues than a bathroom policy.

  7. I’m from a small country in Europe, and the latest trend here is bathrooms used by BOTH men and women. There aren’t any stalls or urinals, but closed rooms, where NO ONE can look in too. There are also rooms accessible for wheelchairs and a separate room for changing your baby’s diaper. All ages, both men and women use theses, and so far I haven’t heard anyone complain. Maybe a new way of looking at bathroom designs is the way to go?

  8. Cartoonist Kevin Moore penned this prescient cartoon on this very topic, back in 2013.