The Walgreens drugstore chain has bowed to pressure to allow men posing as women to use its women’s restrooms, despite the Target chain losing millions in revenue following a similar decision.
The drug store chain made its decision after a gay customer named Jessie Meehan, who is not transgender, said she was not allowed to use a women’s bathroom at a Los Angeles location. Meehan claimed she was on her way to participate in the city’s LGBTQ Pride festival in 2017 when store management made the decision.
Meehan said that the store managers told her that store policy was to restrict bathroom use to a customer’s appearance, MSN News reported.
“I had to go, so I didn’t put up much of a fight and used the stall while the men used the urinals next to me,” Meehan complained in an email to Walgreens, according to MSN. “This in itself was very humiliating for me, and I felt extremely uncomfortable.”
The customer, who did purchase some items during her visit to the location, said she argued with the store manager and corporate headquarters to no avail.
Meehan eventually took her complaint to an LA chapter of the ACLU, which contacted Walgreens threatening legal action.
The chain bowed to pressure immediately.
ACLU staff attorney Amanda Goad celebrated the chain’s decision saying, “In an ideal world, the best policies apply to everyone because it’s not exclusively a transgender issue and having staff speculate who or who might not be transgender doesn’t help anyone.”
The victorious customer also celebrated the decision. “When I think of Walgreens, I think of an ally. A company that really supports progressive issues which I really respect a lot,” Meehan said.
The company’s new directive now defines “gender identity” as: “A person’s innate, deeply-felt sense of one’s gender. One’s gender identity may not correspond to that person’s sex as assigned at birth.”
The group 2ndVote criticized the Drugstore chain for this about-face on its bathroom policy. The group said on its website:
The fact that Walgreens would respond in a way that will create more confusion and complications, as well as more safety concerns, is not surprising, given the company’s history on similar issues. Walgreens recently boasted its perfect rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which includes adherence to the controversial Criteria 4. See more on the HRC’s CEI and Criteria 4 here.
Walgreens apparently paid no attention to the troubles retail giant Target went through for over two years after it made a similar decision to allow men to use the women’s restrooms and changing rooms at its locations nationwide.
Target lost billions in revenue after millions of customers stopped shopping at Target’s retail outlets. The company also suffered through a massive boycott organized in 2016 by the American Family Association. In April of 2016, AFA launched a boycott petition that garnered over one million signatures in less than two weeks.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.