Local family speaking out after they said neighbor targeted transgender daughter with yard signs

PITTSBURGH — According to a 2021 study, transgender people are four times more likely to be victims of violent crimes. However, researchers said these crimes often go unreported. Now, one local family is finally speaking out after their neighbor has targeted their transgender daughter for more than a year with multiple signs attacking her.

“This crosses a line. It was meant to shame us and intimidate us,” said Sean O’Donnell, the parent of the 15-year-old girl.

O’Donnell and husband Todd Collar explained that their 15-year-old daughter has been the target of transphobic social media posts and signs, and they say their neighbor is responsible.

“The nine-foot sign was angled into our backyard and directly under my daughter’s bedroom window, and read, “Transing kids is abuse and homophobia,” said O’Donnell.

This was not the first sign around Mother’s Day that the parents shared. Their neighbor rammed her car in front of theirs with another sign, this time reading, “Only women can be mothers.”

“She backed the car up directly (hitting) our car, so we all had to see it,” said O’Donnell.

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For the past two years, their four adopted children have been the target of racial, homophobic and transphobic harassment, but their daughter has taken the brunt of her slurs.

“Our daughter lived in 20 different homes before coming to live with us. This home is a place of safety,” said O’Donnell.

“Since Mother’s Day, one of the first things we do is we walk out back, we come out front, we walk the perimeter to see if there’s been a new sign,” said Collar.

No new signs have been posted from their neighbor, but signs of support have sprung up.

Pittsburgh LGBTQ Charities (PLC) has printed more than 150 signs, with 380 more on the way.

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Demand for the signs soared within the first 10 days, according to Sue Kerr, LGBTQ activist and board president of the nonprofit spearheading sign production and distribution.

“We are not going to let rhetoric rooted in hatred and ignorance sperate us from taking care of our kids,” said Kerr. “Anyone who drives around the North Side should probably be seeing them.”

The Allegheny County District Attorney has charged the neighbor with one summary count of harassment. While the court proceedings are ongoing the woman has been ordered to have no contact with the family.

Additional charges were also filled by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.

Another hearing is set for July 26.

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