Alecia Abel ripped a Post-It note from her door Thursday morning. It said, “Move or die.”
She tore it up and threw it away.
Abel, a 38-year-old engineer and Newberry resident, came out as a transgender woman three months ago. The note was the most recent incident after a month of harassment from strangers, until early Friday morning, Abel said.
She found the same threat spray-painted on her garage door in big black letters, but with a slur added at the end.
Deputies were patrolling the Newberry Oaks neighborhood about 2:15 a.m. Friday when they noticed the vandalism on the garage door, said Alachua County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Sgt. Brett Rhodenizer.
Abel was enjoying her new fire pit in the backyard while her wife, Lizzy, was asleep. The couple’s dogs began barking uncontrollably when a deputy knocked on their door.
When Alecia Abel walked into the house, she saw the living room bathed in red and blue lights from the patrol car.
Lizzy Abel didn’t know about the slur sprawled across her garage door.
The letters were taller than she is, she said.
Alecia and Lizzy Abel think the house was vandalized between 12:30 a.m. and 2:30 a.m.
Lizzy Abel was shocked this would happen in Newberry Oaks.
“That’s not politics,” she said. “That’s somebody’s hatred.”
Alecia Abel said in the past month random people on the street have wolf-whistled and rolled their eyes at her when she’s “all girled up” in her wig and makeup. She is hoping facial feminization surgery will soften her features.
“They wouldn’t know I’m a trans woman,” she said. “They’ll just see me as a woman.”
Within a day, the garage door looked new. By Sunday, the GoFundMe Lizzy Abel made Friday hit $1,105.
The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the vandalism as a hate crime and reviewing security camera footage, Rhodenizer said.
Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlowe and Naim Erched, 35, an insurance company analyst, went to the couple’s home Sunday to help set up a security camera. Alecia Abel said she bought it months ago but never got around to installing it.
Erched said he was shocked to see the graffiti on Facebook. He didn’t know the couple well, but offered to help, he said.
“This is not our Newberry,” Erched said.
Alecia Abel said she feels validated by the support from neighbors and people she has never met. Within a day after the vandalism appeared, neighbors approached the Abels offering to paint over the graffiti, cook them dinner and pitch in money to help Alecia Abel’s transition.
“At this point, I have absolutely no fear,” she said.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Abel tore the note up Thursday morning.