The national debate over whether or not to allow transgender people to use the restroom that best corresponds with their gender identity continues to intensify.
More than 950,000 supporters have signed a petition launched by the American Family Association -- which has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center -- that calls for a boycott of Target after the retailer pledged to allow trans customers and employees to use the appropriate restroom. On April 21, Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz chimed in on the controversy with a campaign ad asking viewers, “Should a grown man pretending to be a woman be allowed to use the women’s restroom?”
Some pundits believe that Cruz's home state of Texas will be the next battleground in the so-called "bathroom bill" dispute after North Carolina. A number of local Republican lawmakers have already expressed their support of measures that would restrict restroom access for transgender people, The Texas Tribune reports.
Chief among them is Texas State Rep. Matt Shaheen (R-Plano). In an April 27 interview, Shaheen told The Texas Tribune that he would "die on this issue" politically. As far as Target's policy was concerned, he said he wouldn't care if Minnesota-based retail group opted to leave Texas entirely.
"If Target wants to close all their stores in the state of Texas, I will go over and help them pack and help them leave," Shaheen said. "I am going to bat for my wife and my daughters."
Echoing those sentiments is Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who has launched his own petition against businesses that permit "men to use women's restrooms." Patrick announced the petition in an April 27 tweet.
"Asking a man not to follow [a woman] into the bathroom...I really don't think there's too much controversy in that," Patrick told local news station NBC DFW that same day. "This is common decency. This is not about equal rights. I'm totally in favor of equal rights. I'm not prejudiced against anyone. I don't want a man, for any reason, going into a women's bathroom or a women's locker room."
Shrugging off much of the pushback to North Carolina's House Bill 2 as "big bluff and bluster," Patrick added, "Women don't want to be subjected to that, and men don't want their women to be subjected to that."