Brian Dwyer, a resident of Waterford, Pennsylvania, lives near the town’s edge. His house sits just along Route-19, the common road taken by drivers as they enter Waterford.
Recently, Dwyer took advantage of his prime location.
With a giant electric sign—the kind commonly seen on highway construction sights—Dwyer displayed a message to all motorists on their way into town.
Dwyer’s take on a Waterford first impression, though, was transphobic.
“Don’t let a man in a dress rule us Waterford.”
Dwyer’s sign referred to Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health, who recently announced statewide virus restrictions closing indoor dining, gyms and casinos and banning all school sports, according to Erie News Now.
Levine is a transgender woman and uses she/her pronouns.
But Brittney Loper, another Waterford resident, stepped in to lead the fight against Dwyer’s intolerance. She created a Change.org petition calling for Dwyer to take down the hateful message.
Loper’s call to action outlined her shock and disappointment.
“I’ve always been proud to grow up in the close knit community of Waterford.”
“The support and love that I’ve received from my community has helped me grow into the person that I am today.”
“Today, I don’t feel that pride anymore.”
“Instead, when I drive into Waterford I see a transphobic sign that doesn’t offer the same love and support our town should stand for.”
“I’m disgusted by the thought of LGBTQ+ members of the Waterford community feeling like they aren’t accepted.”
Loper’s message reflected her belief that Waterford is, in general, filled with good, accepting people.
“If nothing else, I hope that signing this petition will show that not everyone in Waterford stands for hate.”
“I really believe that we have a wonderful community within Waterford, and hope that people driving through can see a message of that love instead.”
Comments on the petition page illustrated people’s outrage toward Dwyer’s sign.
But when Your Erie caught up with Dwyer, he claimed he didn’t think the sign was transphobic.
Nonetheless, the petition worked. Dwyer eventually changed the message displayed on the sign after days of backlash.
The new message was far more positive.
“Happy holidays, please wear a mask.”
It’s a story that proves enough people outraged by bigotry can uphold the values of a town when the need arises.
While people will still be transphobic, homophobic, racist or harbor other forms of bigotry, making certain they know public displays of their hatred won’t be quietly tolerated by their neighbors is an effective method of combating their hate.