© 2024 WNIJ and WNIU
Northern Public Radio
801 N 1st St.
DeKalb, IL 60115
Northern Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Perspective: Walk a mile in their shoes


When I was a kid, my mom had a friend named Michelle. She was fierce, beautiful, and extraordinarily tech savvy. She was also a transgender woman who was in a relationship with a transman. Michelle would often come over to our home to work on the Bandwidth Project – a nerd collective that my software engineer stepdad founded with some of his friends.

I was little when I met Michelle, and I didn’t think anything was unusual about her. My mom explained in very plain language that Michelle knew in her heart that she was a woman so she made the choice to live as a woman. While I had a few questions, I willingly accepted this explanation.

What I found harder to accept was when my mother explained to me that Michelle had been murdered and that the police were unable to find her killer. Michelle is not alone. Transgender individuals are over four times more likely than cisgender people to experience violent victimization, including rape, sexual assault, and aggravated or simple assault.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Safe Passage is holding several events including the Take Back the Night Rallyand Walk a Mile in Their Shoes – for these events, it is important that we unlearn what we think we know about sexual assault being something that happens only to white cis women.

Traditionally Walk a Mile is a march where men wear high heels and walk a mile in the shoes of a sexual assault survivor – but you can bring whatever shoes you want this year because people all along the binary can be sexual assault survivors.

Originally from Pittsburgh, Nia Springer-Norris moved to DeKalb in 2021 to pursue a Master of Arts in Communication Studies with an emphasis on Journalism Studies. Nia is also a freelance journalist, editor, and communication consultant.