WASHINGTON -- It looks like Target may have just lost a loyal customer: Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas).
Gohmert said Thursday that he won't shop at the massive retailer anymore if it's true that the store plans to allow transgender customers to use bathrooms that match their gender identity. It is true; Target announced this week that its policies respect transgender people and aim to make them feel just as welcome in its stores as anyone else. The announcement comes amid a spate of state-level anti-LGBT bills, including so-called "bathroom bills."
"I understand Target may now be changing their restrooms," Gohmert said in a speech to a mostly empty House chamber. "If they're going to be having women come into men's restrooms, I won't be going to Target to shop, unless and until that changes."
It was a tough decision for the conservative lawmaker. He said he really likes the way the store's bathrooms are laid out.
"Usually, Target's great," Gohmert said. "They have the restrooms right there, where you go in the door to the store. Normally you don't have to go clear to the back of the store. You've got to go shopping, it's handy."
Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder said the store appreciates the "wide variety of perspectives and opinions" on where people should go to the bathroom, but it's sticking with its policy. She did not say specifically whether the $53.5 billion company would miss Gohmert.
During his floor remarks, the Texas lawmaker said that letting transgender people use bathrooms that match their gender identity is akin to letting a male sex offender into a bathroom with little girls. It's an intellectually dishonest claim -- a person's gender identity has nothing to do with being a perverted creeper -- but religious conservatives have been using this argument in recent years to demonize transgender people.
"It's already been shown, you give guys a chance to say 'I'm transgender' and I get to go in and film a girl in a shower. There will be people that do that," Gohmert said. "Why not let the transgender LGBTQ, R, S, T* -- whatever the initials are -- let them have their activities where they don't impose on the privacy of someone who wants to go to the restroom?"
*He was fine when he paused at LGBTQ.
This piece has been updated with Target's response.