ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – A St. Petersburg man who videotaped himself going into a local Target said he was just trying to clarify the company’s bathroom policy.
That video has since gone viral. It was recorded on the heels of Target’s recent announcement about its policy.
“(We) welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity … Everyone deserves to feel like they belong,” Target said.
Both the local video and Target’s policy have come under fire.
More than 800,000 people have signed a petition from the American Family Association saying they will boycott the big-box chain because of the policy.
Andy Park says he went to the St. Petersburg store on Park Street Friday. Park told WISH-TV’s sister station WFLA he was “dressed like a man” and originally thought the policy was a hoax.
He showed WFLA the video he says he took going into the store and talking with a manager.
Here’s part of the conversation:
Park: “I just came because I wanted to make sure I was allowed to use the women’s room before I went in.”
Manager: “Yeah, yup. That’s correct. Yup.”
Park: “That’s fine?”
Park: “OK. If any of the women have a problem, will you let them know?”
Manager: “Yeah. They can come, and we’ll speak to them.”
On Tuesday Park talked with WFLA.
“I don’t have a beef with the transgender community. I’m not on a crusade,” he said.
However, Park, who says he never went into a bathroom at the store, said he believes Target’s policy could lead the way to criminal behavior.
“I don’t have a problem with the transgender community,” he said. “I have no problem with transgendered people using the women’s bathroom. My problem is with a possibly overbroad policy that may be putting older people or children at risk.”
Nathan Bruemmer, a transgender activist who transitioned to a man seven years ago, said that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“So this idea that somehow crimes are being committed by transgender men and women in the bathroom, which statistically we know that’s false,” Bruemmer said.
Bruemmer said Park misrepresented himself in the video and that it was a set-up.
“I think what’s fueling the fire is fear and I think it’s a false fear,” he said. “I think it’s about people not being comfortable with transgender people in general.”
Park agrees to a certain extent. “I believe all people deserve human dignity and human rights but they also deserve safety,” he said.
News Channel 8 reached out to Target to get a response about Park’s video. We have not heard back at this point.
The website Mediaite said Target did respond to its reporter. The statement Mediaite posted reads:
“Thanks for reaching out.
We certainly respect that there are a wide variety of perspectives and opinions. As a company that firmly stands behind what it means to offer our team an inclusive place to work — and our guests an inclusive place to shop – we continue to believe that this is the right thing for Target.