A Warning Sign in Easton

I was out tonight, attending Cedar Crest College’s GSA, OutThere. I’ve been a part of their group for the past month or two, and I’ve probably mentioned them a few times before. It’s a really amazing group.

I got home tonight at about 11:30 PM. I live in the city of Easton, so I know to be careful, and always keep an eye on potential hazards. As I parked my car,I noticed one of these signs. There were a group of men, about 10-20, huddled in a small group just a few cars away. They were watching me, I was watching them. There was nothing ‘safe’ feeling about it. I knew, immediately, to be on my guard. My gut reaction was to wait for them to leave, but after a few minutes, they didn’t. So, with one hand on my keys and the other holding onto my pepper spray in my pocket. Better safe than sorry.

So I got out of my car and started walking towards my apartment completely casually. I didn’t turn to look at the group of men, but I focused on listening to their conversation. They were drunk, but I could tell they were talking about how God was real and God was more powerful than the devil. Something about how God could kick the devil’s ass.

At this point, the situation went from risky to dangerous to me. I realize now, for most people, hearing this would probably make them laugh or feel at ease. For me, my gut clenched, and I went from alert to ready to fight. Images from films like Boy’s Don’t Cry, where conservative, close minded men attacked a transman to prove he was really a woman. I thought of the hundreds of times I’ve heard religion used to condemn me as some terrible person. I remembered standing at the steps of the capitol building in Harrisburg during the Transgender Day of Remembrance, reading of the name of a dozen transgender people ruthlessly slaughtered for nothing more than being transgender, their murders often going unsolved. As I walked away, I kept a close eye on the shadows cast from the lights behind me, making sure none of them followed me.

It took me a while to realize that, to most people, this would have seemed like no big deal, the talk of God and religion would have been relieving to most. To a queer person, a transgender woman, and someone who has been the victim of religious violence, that was a giant flashing red warning sign.

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