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Windy City Times 2016-06-08
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Uptown Target counter-protest strikes emotional chord
by Gretchen Rachel Hammond
2016-06-04

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Claiming that national retailer Target's position of gender identity inclusion for its customers and employees is "allowing biological men into women's restrooms," the Ohio-based religious hate group Faith2Action's planned a nationwide protest of Target Stores June 4 which they termed "Don't Target Our Daughters."

Faith2Action founder and president Janet Porter called the event the "best opportunity to take back ground since Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty took his stand."

On the same day and time as the action was planned, around 50 people encircled the entrance of an Uptown Chicago Target to ensure that there was no ground for Porter and her anti-trans activists to take.

Organized by trans activists, the Gay Liberation Network and allies, the counter-protest was designed "to support Target and the trans community regardless of whether or not opponents of equal rights show up."

"It wasn't that long ago that I was out here protesting Target because they had made some anti-LGBT moves," iconic Chicago transgender activist June M. LaTrobe told Windy City Times. "They have come so far. For the broad trans community, a retail establishment supporting us is fantastic."

LaTrobe noted that, since Faith2Action had been closed-mouthed about the Target stores at which they intended to appear, the choice of the Uptown store for a counter-protest was a guess.

While no members of the religious group were present, those who had gathered to announce their support for Target's policies were just as vocal.

"There is a myth that after we won marriage equality first here in Illinois and then the United States that the struggle for LGBT freedom was over," Gay Liberation Network founder Andy Thayer said. "An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. The other side never rests. After they lost marriage, the first thing that they saw as their wedge issue was bathrooms. They use it as an attack on all trans rights. We live in a country where trans people's unemployment and violence rates are way off the charts. The bathroom issue is a way to attack trans people for who they are."

While the marchers circled the front of the store chanting "thank you Target" passing motorists pressed on their horns and gave a thumbs up of solidarity.

However, not everyone was in agreement with them.

As LaTrobe took the bullhorn to praise Chicago as a "remarkably welcoming, accepting and protective environment," one woman furiously insisted that transgender people should have their own bathrooms.

Parroting the arguments of the Far Right which have been consistently disproven, the woman maintained that pedophiles would take advantage of Target's policy.

"There have been more Republican politicians caught misbehaving in restrooms than anyone in the transgender community," LaTrobe insisted before arguing that segregating transgender individuals was not so far removed from the Jim Crow laws which mandated separate facilities for the Black population.

"I'll take a transgender restroom the day after you take a Black one," she told the woman.

LaTrobe's stance was roundly applauded.

"If you identify as or if someone thinks you are trans, you are 17 times more likely to suffer violence than someone who simply identifies as gay or lesbian," LaTrobe continued after the woman stormed off.

Thayer noted that people like her, supporters of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and others on the Far Right were using the transgender community as "scapegoats."

Activist Rick Garcia was on hand as an emotionally powerful contrast to such attempts.

"The people who are targeting Target are the same ones who have called for boycotts of General Mill and Disney," he said. "How successful were they? Not at all. Target is on target with this issue."

"What we have seen today is that discrimination, bigotry and animosity towards those who are different is barely beneath the surface," he added. "You don't have to scratch too far to find it. But here we stand. Our heels are dug in. We've come too far to go back and we're going to continue to protect the gains we make and move forward so that each and every one of us is treated equitably and fairly. We are going to run the bigots out of town."

"I'm a Christian," celebrated transgender activist Alexis Martinez added. "There is nothing in any Bible I have ever read that says we have to hate to show our love of God. We are fighting against the idea that, because we are transgender, that makes us pedophiles. The reality of pedophilia is that 82 percent of it happens in the homes of family members. That's a reality that people don't want to face up to."

"We need to step up and stop listening to the people peddling that message," she concluded. "Stand up. Refuse to give up."


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