Dear Mr. McMillon,
I am writing to you in response to the recent incident of the cisgender (non-transgender) woman who was mistaken as transgender and harassed in the women's bathroom of Walmart in Danbury, CT. While Walmart isn't responsible for customers' actions, Walmart's silence on this incident and on transgender people's right to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity speaks volumes about your company.
The laws being passed in some parts of the United States forcing transgender people to use the bathroom of their birth gender or their chromosomes is cruel and demeaning, and borne out of ignorance, fear, and misinformed hysteria. Furthermore, the legislation achieves the opposite of what it set out to do. These laws are inviting harassment by forcing some women into men's facilities and some men into women's facilities, instead of preventing men from entering women's restrooms.
I am a transgender man. I was born female and have XX chromosomes. I am muscular, have a deep voice, a full beard (which strangers frequently complement me on), and am indistinguishable from men who were born male. I am sure it would not be received well if I were to walk into a women's bathroom, but that's exactly what these new laws tell me to do when they force transgender people to use facilities based on their birth gender. Contrary to popular belief, a very large number of transgender people do look like the gender they identify with and most people they encounter have no idea that they are in fact interacting with a transgender person.
For transgender women, being forced to use men's bathrooms is flat out dangerous and puts them at serious risk of physical or sexual assault, precisely the opposite of protecting women. Transgender people, especially transgender women, already face heightened risk of violence and hate crimes. Many are murdered in the US every year because of their identities, and suicide rates of transgender people are disturbingly high. There are no documented cases of a transgender person assaulting another person in a restroom, while verbal harassment and physical and sexual assault committed against transgender and other gender non-conforming people is an everyday reality. I personally know people who are afraid to use public restrooms out of fear of being assaulted. This legislation forcing people to use gendered facilities that do not align with who they are causes much more damage than it supposedly prevents. We need to take a stand for human rights and dignity and do all we can to ensure this kind of violence and injustice ends, and a large step toward that is allowing everyone the freedom to use the facilities that most closely match their identity and where they feel the safest.
I was until very recently a regular Walmart customer, but I will not shop at your stores again until I hear more positive news regarding Walmart's policies on treatment of transgender and gender non-conforming (and for that matter, all LGBT) customers and employees. Instead, I will be giving Target all my business from now on, and will encourage everyone I know to do the same.
A Transgender Man
(a copy of this letter was sent to C. Douglas McMillan on June 17th 2016)