White Ribbon Day and the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event

There are parades being held across the country today in which men dress up in high heels to raise awareness of violence against women and children. There’s a massive issue in this.

The event is being portrayed as a “humorous way to raise awareness about a serious issue,” according to MP Alfred Ngaro. The “humour” in this is at the expense of trans women, who are much more susceptible to violence and abuse, both within and outside of relationships.

The draw of this event relies on the harmful “man in a dress” trope, which is still hugely prevalent and impacts our representation in media, our validity as women and people, and leads to violence against us.

A 2012 report found that “transgender survivors were two (2.0) times as likely to face threats/intimidation within violent relationships, and nearly two (1.8) times more likely to experience harassment within violent relationships.” The Transgender Law Centre also notes that report rates are likely even lower than they are for cis women, due to a multitude of reasons including the danger of being outed, the inaccessibility and transphobia of the medical system, and institutional transphobia of the police and justice system. Note that these stats and the problems around them tend to be even worse for trans women, who are the butt of the joke behind the “walk a mile in her shoes” event.

There’s no denying that we need to raise awareness around violence against women and children, but as much as it’s not talked about, violence within trans relationships is even more invisible. We have no funded awareness campaigns, and we do not benefit from campaigns not explicitly intended for us – especially when those campaigns, like this one, rely on marginalising us further for the benefit of the privileged majority.

If you’re trying to raise awareness around violence against women, then make sure you’re doing it for all women, not using one class of women as a joke for the benefit of the rest.

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