Standing Up From My Wheelchair in Public
I often bring up the ableist action of harassing/accusing ambulatory wheelchair users (as well as scooter, walker, crutches, and cane users) of “faking” because it’s something that happens ALL the time under the guise of “allyship” that people seem to WANT to remain oblivious to.
A person standing up from a wheelchair or standing without their mobility aid SHOULD NOT be cause for alarm, should not inspire accusations of faking, should not inspire you to say, “it’s a miracle!” in a mocking tone, or to ask me if I should “really be parked here”, or recommendations of weight loss so I won’t “need that chair anymore”, or whispering about how my karma is coming or how I’m going to hell for “playing with a wheelchair”; all comments I’ve received from strangers for just standing in public, getting my chair out of the trunk of my car on my own, or doing something as minimal as riding my chair while being young and smiling.
It’s prejudice; it lacks understanding to how diverse disability is, it uses a singular representation of wheelchair users to judge all wheelchair users. When people are called out on that ableism, those who do it will become defensive and claim to be acting in defense of disabled people because they truly deeply believe in the myth of a “faking disability epidemic", but hear this: non-apparent disabilities/invisible disablities, etc. are REAL disabilities and you are harassing the very people you are claiming to be advocating for.
For me, it is physically very difficult, painful, and risky to walk in the first place, the moments when I am able to, it takes alot of energy and concentration. Emotionally, it takes courage for me to get up from my chair in public; doing so causes anxiety that is parallel to what I would feel as a woman walking alone in the street at night. It’s a situation where I have come to EXPECT harassment and that is not okay. This is not how it should be, getting out of my chair in public should not have to feel like a radical act.
A person who gets up from their wheelchair might have limited ability to walk because they are rehabilitating, have dysautonomia, lung issues, heart issues, chronic pain, hypermobility, fragility of joints or muscles, fatigue, there are so many reasons for being an ambulatory wheelchair user and they come in all ages, sizes, colors, there is no one way, no one look.