A transgender Idaho Falls woman was arrested on one count of felony voyeurism for a report that she took pictures of another woman changing clothes in a dressing room in a Target store in Ammon, Idaho. (Unlike a fake news report from April 2016 involving a woman supposedly arrested for taking pictures of underage girls in a Target bathroom, this report is real.)
Sheriff’s deputies responded to the store after a woman reported that someone was taking pictures of her while she was trying on clothes inside a dressing room. The victim noticed the suspect reaching over the wall with a cellphone taking pictures and confronted her, prompting the suspect to flee the store on foot.
According to a Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office news release, “Detectives were able to review witness information and security footage from Target that led them to come in contact with 43-year-old Sean Patrick Smith, who also identifies as Shauna Patricia Smith, a transgender female.”
Detectives are investigating the case to determine if any more victims exist relating to this incident, the release said. The charge against Smith is punishable by up to five years in prison.
The TransAdvocate web site reported that the incident took place in a unisex changing area rather than a women’s dressing area, as was commonly stated in news accounts:
We fact checked this popular narrative. We contacted the Target store and spoke with staff who described the changing room area. Additionally, we physically visited the store in which the crime took place to verify the information the Target employees provided us.
The Target store in question has a unisex changing area. Unisex changing areas were rolled out in Target stores years prior to Target’s announcement of its trans-inclusive policy.
However, the editor/publisher of the Idaho Falls Post Register told us the Target store there does not have a unisex dressing area:
I don’t believe anyone from TransAdvocate either called or visited the Target in question. Perhaps they thought it was in Iowa Falls or Indiana Falls or Ohio Falls. But the Target in Idaho Falls does not have unisex fitting rooms — I personally verified this with a visit. The fitting room area has a counter staffed by an employee who sends you one direction for “boys/men” and another for “girls/women.” According to the police report, the transgender women who, when not wearing her wig and dress looks very male, was sent to the “girls/women” side because she was wearing her wig and dress at the time.
Likely neither the gender status of the suspect or the dressing area was a significant factor in this crime. A perpetrator wearing a wig and a dress (as the suspect in this case was) could probably get into a dressing area and take pictures of women without initially raising alarm, regardless of whether the dressing area was women-only or unisex, and regardless of whether the perpetrator was genuinely transgender or not.
Target made headlines in April 2016 when they issued a public statement saying that the company “supports the federal Equality Act, which provides protections to LGBT individuals, and opposes action that enables discrimination, and that “we welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity.” The announcement drew protests throughout the country, including a petition drive and boycott call from the American Family Association, a conservative Christian activist group.