(note: I’m not gonna talk about Trump mocking Serge Kovaleski primarily b/c Kovaleski does not ID as disabled and does not want to be used as a political talking point. Which is fair.  yes, it was awful. no, you don’t get brownie points for agreeing with me that it was awful. Disabled people have evolved to have thick skin, and a politician mocking us is not new or unsurprising. this list will deal with policy and specific issues facing the broader disability, autistic, d/Deaf//HoH, and neurodivergent communities.)

(other note: I generally use adjective-first language but I probably also used person-first language in here somewhere. I personally prefer to use the former for myself but I respect that other people in this community use different language.)

-the federal site for IDEA has been taken down

-all mentions of disability rights have been deleted from the website

-betsy devos had no idea what the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act was when asked and stated that standards for accommodations in education should be left up to the state (this is a TERRIBLE idea)

-if Obamacare is repealed, we have the most to lose. Most of us will not be able to afford medical expertise or treatment to maintain a basic quality of life. Some of us will die.

-he called one of his books Crippled America. Unironically. Ugh. 

-the january 2017 unemployment rate for nondisabled civilians was 4.9. For disabled civilians, it was 11.0. These numbers do not reflect the number of disabled individuals who work inadequate part time jobs, who are institutionalized, or have given up looking for work.

-the US still has not signed the UN documents about the rights of People with Disabilities. 

-Justices like Justice Kennedy have historically been swing votes on cases involving disabilities. Justices like Scalia have not. Potential Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch has a very ugly disability rights record, which includes defending a college that fired a professor undergoing chemo when she requested to give her lectures over skype (there was a flu going around on campus and being there would put the staff member in danger due to her suppressed immune system)

-By the time he was elected, Donald Trump had already dealt with at least eight lawsuits concerning lack of basic accessibility (ramps, braille) on his properties

-the Supreme Court case legalizing the sterilization of potentially disabled people without their consent (Buck v. Bell) has never been overturned and has been cited as a legal precedence in a lower court as recently as 2001.

-the Judge Rotenburg Center is still using painful electric shocks on disabled students as punishment, despite the FDA advising them to stop more than two years ago.

-similarly, many disabled people are not  paid federal minimum wage b/c section 14c of the “Fair Labor Standards Act” is still on the books and so hundreds of thousands of disabled peoples’ wages are “proportional” to their productivity (compared to an abled worker). Goodwill is one of the most famous companies that exploits this loophole.

-the already gutted SSDI program is even more at risk-Trump has spoken about emulating the British reforms for their disability program. Off the top of my head, I can think of nine or ten different people who died as a result of the recent “fit to work” assessments and bedroom requirements in the UK.

-disabled people depend on the Department of Justice’s civil rights division to enforce the ADA and protect us from blatant discrimination. Trump has already proven that he does not care about the funding or effectiveness of the department, and is willing to destabilize it to forward his political goals. 

-Donald Trump is anti-vax and is complacent to that movement’s violent and intolerable rhetoric surrounding autistic and other neurodivergent individuals

-Sessions called disabled children protected by federal laws (like IDEA) “the single most irritating problem for teachers throughout America today”. In this same statement, he stated that he did not “remember hearing of gun shootings prior to 1975 when Congress began telling ten percent of our students [they] are not responsible” (the IDEA was passed in 1975, improving the way disabled children were treated at public schools)

-the new administration’s refusal to address fatal police brutality is also an issue of disability rights, given that around half of victims shot by police officers are disabled or neurodivergent. (like eric garner, who had asthma) 

In case this list didn’t clue you in: the disabled community is scared. We don’t know what to expect from the next four years, we still haven’t come close to equality, and we are usually left to fight our battles alone. That’s why I’m asking whoever reads this to stand with the disability community against ableism and against policies that will kill us. People have done a great job in the past few weeks of expressing solidarity with muslims, immigrants, refugees, latinx people, LGBT people, and black people. And, honestly, that’s great. Thank you and please keep doing it. But also be aware that disabled people are one of the most vulnerable demographics right now, and be aware that we’re also one of the most ignored. We are made invisible by the media and by society too easily. Please, you have to see us and you have to stand with us. 

Looking back on history, it’s impossible not to notice that people with disabilities don’t fare well in authoritarian regimes. Please help us make this time different.

Ableist hostility disguised as friendliness

Some people relate to people with disabilities in a dangerous and confusing way. They see themselves as helpers, and at first they seem to really like the person. Then the helper suddenly become aggressively hostile, and angry about the disabled person’s limitations or personality (even though they have not changed in any significant way since they started spending time together). Often, this is because the helper expected their wonderful attention to erase all of the person’s limitations, and they get angry when it doesn’t.

The logic works something like this:

  • The helper thinks that they’re looking past the disability and seeing the “real person” underneath.
  • They expect that their kindness  will allow the “real person” to emerge from the shell of disability.
  • They really like “real person” they think they are seeing, and they’re excited about their future plans for when that person emerges.
  • But the “real person” is actually figment of their imagination.

The disabled person is already real:

  • The helper doesn’t like this already-real disabled person very much
  • The helper ignores most of what the already-real person actually says, does, thinks, and feels.
  • They’re looking past the already-real person, and seeing the ghost of someone they’d like better.

This ends poorly:

  • The already-real person never turns into the ghost the helper is imagining
  • Disability stays important; it doesn’t go away when a helper tries to imagine it out of existence
  • Neither do all of the things the already-real disabled person thinks, feels, believes, and decides
  • They are who they are; the helper’s wishful thinking doesn’t turn them into someone else
  • The helper eventually notices that the already-real person isn’t becoming the ghost that they’ve been imagining
  • When the helper stop imagining the ghost, they notice that the already-real person is constantly doing, saying, feeling, believing, and deciding things that the helper hates
  • Then the helper gets furious and becomes openly hostile

The helper has actually been hostile to the disabled person the whole time

  • They never wanted to spend time around the already-real disabled person; they wanted someone else
  • (They probably didn’t realize this)
  • At first, they tried to make the already-real disabled person go away by imagining that they were someone else
  • (And by being kind to that imaginary person)
  • When they stop believing in the imaginary person, they become openly hostile to the real person

Tl;dr Sometimes ableist hostility doesn’t look like hostility at first. Sometimes people who are unable or unwilling to respect disabled people seem friendly at first. They try to look past disability, and they interact with an imaginary nondisabled person instead of the real disabled person. They’re kind to the person they’re imagining, even though they find the real person completely unacceptable. Eventually they notice the real person and become openly hostile. The disabled person’s behavior has not changed; the ableist’s perception of it has. When someone does this to you, it can be very confusing — you were open about your disability from the beginning, and it seemed like they were ok with that, until they suddenly weren’t. If this has happened to you, you are not alone.

On the Social Dimension of Disability: “I don’t think of you that way.”

I can’t count the amount of people who have said some variation of “I don’t think of you that way” when it comes up that I’m disabled.

Disability (n.):  a physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities.

I have permanent paralysis in my shoulder, arm, and hand from an injury to my brachial plexus. My range of motion in that arm is about 40% of what a typical, uninjured arm would be, not to mention my underdeveloped strength, dislocated shoulder, and the resulting scoliosis. I could go on. Based on the simplest, literal definition, I am definitely disabled, because at the very least, compared with a typical body, my movements are limited.*

So, why am I always hearing “I don’t think of you that way”? 

Often a person says it to relieve their own social discomfort or cognitive dissonance, either because I’ve self-identified as disabled or because they’ve said something disparaging about disabled people. Examples:

  • My boyfriend’s mom says she has “crippling self-doubt.” My boyfriend says, “bad word choice,” gesturing to me. She does a double take, looks my way, and says “Oh, I’m sorry, it didn’t occur to me because I don’t see you that way.”
  • My college roommate and I are chatting and I mention, in a neutral tone, that I am disabled. In the voice of someone finally expressing something that’s been bothering her, she says “I don’t know why you think of yourself that way. I don’t think of you that way.”

In the first example, my boyfriend’s mom uses “crippling,” (cripple (n.): a person who is partially or totally unable to use one or more limbs) as shorthand to say that her self-doubt prevents her from normal activities, or at least from the activities she’d prefer to take part in. When my boyfriend points out that this metaphor implies physical disability (such as mine) necessarily means abnormal, negative, or useless, she experiences discomfort. She relieves it by saying, “I don’t think of you that way,” preserving the abnormal, negative, or useless associations in her head with physical disability. Because she sees me as normal, useful, productive, I must not be disabled. The definition of disability shifts from a value-neutral description of physical or mental difference to a negative social role, in order to exclude me.

In the second example, my roommate does something similar. Although I don’t express sadness or anger when calling myself disabled, it makes her upset, and she pushes back. That’s because, rather than seeing disability as a value-neutral physical or mental difference, she sees it as a negative social role. In her mind, by self-identifying this way, I’m insulting myself.

The problem with both these lines of logic is twofold:

  • The definition of disability shifts at will in order to protect the nondisabled person’s perception of disability as a negative attribute.
  • Inclusion and exclusion into this social role shifts at will in order to protect the nondisabled person’s perception of disability as a negative attribute and attitude toward disabled people that they do “think of that way.”

If I’m not disabled, then I have no way to explain why I was told not to become a lifeguard, or why men routinely refuse to date me because my “arm is just too weird,” or why strangers approach me to tell me how great it is that I’m out living life. I lose out on putting a name to these negative experiences (which is a necessary part of healing from them and fighting back) in order to protect nondisabled people’s shifting definition of disability.

Worse still, if I’m not disabled, then disabled people are just the faceless, abnormal, negative, useless Other. If, as soon as a person because a valued figure in your life, they’re excluded from that group, it is far too easy to dehumanize, objectify, and disenfranchise that group. 

*I wouldn’t trade that limitation of movement for the world, as it’s caused me to develop an interesting set of physical skills that nondisabled people lack along with character traits that are integral to my personality. But that’s for a different post.

anonymous asked:

hi, have you got any recs for what to do and what not to do if you were to write a daredevil fanfic?



  • firstly, do listen to actual blind/vi people and what they have said about writing blind characters. i know a lot about daredevil, and i know about disability studies and media analysis, but i’m sighted. i should not be the extent of who you listen to on this. some potential resources for information and perspectives: 
    • blogs/etc about blindness specifically by b/vi people
    • organizations
      • world blind union
      • american foundation for the blind
      • the perkins school for the blind
      • national federation of the blind
      • national braille press
      • braille institute
      • american council of the blind
      • international council on english braille
      • blind matters
      • comics empower and their podcast
    • if you’re doing fight scenes, maybe read up on some b/vi fighters and athletes
    • i tried to go through who i follow on tumblr but i forgot that all i follow here now are my friends and blogs that post photos of jellyfish
      • on twitter i apparently exclusively follow disability activists and comic creators, which is pretty on brand for me
      • i have a lot of specific articles and stuff so hmu for those i guess
  • do include tech, tools, etc that matt might use. 
  • do research how that tech/those resources/tools/etc work before you try to include it. if i have to read one more fic where someone uses a ballpoint pen to make colored dots in a page and then matt reads it as braille, i will cry. like at least do some basic googling.
  • do check your work to make sure it doesn’t play into common ableist tropes, particularly
    • inspiration porn/inspirationally disadvantaged/overcoming disability (stella young on inspiration porn)
    • supercrip/disability superpower/disability-negating superpower (you can check tv tropes for info on these, although… eh, it’s iffy)
  • if you include stick, do emphasize that he’s matt’s childhood abuser, and any feelings of gratitude or debt that matt has to him — which he definitely could, as stick did train him and give him some sense of control over his senses — are not uncomplicated (post about stick as an abuser and why apologizing for him is shitty)
  • do give matt some real resources for dealing with what basically amounts to chronic pain. this is… so minor, given everything else, but like — come on, you’re telling me he doesn’t own any ice packs? really? (post where i just rant about this for way too many words)
  • do have matt’s senses be more than just “”compensation”” for his blindness, and that’s in double quotes because that whole idea is fucked up. i think a much stronger reading is similar to — or in fact actually — sensory processing disorder. (one of many posts i’ve written on SPD matt)

do not:

  • number one, most important thing to me, do not infantilize matt. do not erase how bloody and angry he is in order to make him cute and soft. (post on infantilizing matt in a larger media context) (more on cripplepunk!matt) (another post on this)
    • relatedly, i’m not saying don’t write matt as a sub, but think about why you’re doing it at least (post on how fandom only writing sub!matt is pretty iffy)
    • i’m also real suspicious of the number of fics where matt is made completely helpless and must get “rescued,” and of the amount of matt!whump out there. i get that having matt get rescued flips the superhero narrative of matt rescuing others in the canon, but, like, all you’re doing is flipping it right back to disabled people being helpless, which is not as creative or original as you maybe think it is (an ask on fandom making matt “learn his place”)
  • do not have matt say “god, i wish i could see you” or otherwise emphasize how much he must absolutely want nothing more than to be nondisabled (post on this exact thing)
  • do not write Matt Temporarily or Permanently Goes Deaf and It’s The Worst Thing Ever fic. there’s plenty, and it’s always audist, and it nearly always forgets that d/Deafblind people actually exist. 
  • do not write no-powers AUs unless you feel real sure you know what you’re doing (a recent post about why they’re nearly always gross)
  • similarly, do not write bodyswap AUs where matt bodyswaps with a nondisabled character unless you’re incredibly 100% sure you know what you’re doing. 
  • i will actually destroy whole buildings if you write a no-longer-disabled AU. i will just tear everything to shreds. everything else aside, there is no sighted daredevil. that does not exist. (here is a post on that)
  • do not forget that matt murdock is blind — actually blind. not “fake blind” or “not real-world blind” or “basically sighted”, but actually blind. he did not read that sign off the wall from 20 feet away, he is not disarming that bomb by identifying each colored wire, he’s not looking up into her beautiful hazel eyes. (post explaining that matt’s actually blind)
    • some of this is people fudging how far is powers go (please. he cannot radar sense the television screen. do not do this to me again.) and writing him as “fake blind,” and some of it is people literally forgetting that they’re writing a blind character. like i often read fic where the writer clearly just genuinely have forgotten that he’s not just a slightly gorier spider-man 
    • honestly it would be the absolute coolest if we could get to the point where “remember that matt’s disabled” can become more than just “don’t have him literally do things that he cannot do” and extends into, like, “have matt think about the world like a disabled person does, and interact with nondisabled people like disabled people do, and think about disability activism and ableism”. (here’s a post i wrote about matt manipulating ableist attitudes for his own survival, but like, it’d be cool if that kind of stuff was, y’no, intentional)
  • do not act like matt uses certain tech or aids because he has to “play” at being blind. no matter what d.g. chichester says, he cannot read a computer screen by touch, and his cane is not just a secret identity prop, or he wouldn’t use it in volume 4 even after his identity has been revealed
  • do not fall into the unnecessary face-touching trope (it’s always unnecessary) (one of many posts on this on the internet) (ETA: here is another)
  • do not pretend that foggy is perfect and can do no wrong and is somehow Free From The Burden Of Internalized Ableism (post on why having foggy be ableist is actually… important) (post on fandom tendency to put foggy on a pedestal) (post about foggy and ableist pity) (another foggy crit post i promise i dont hate him)
    • relatedly please stop fucking having foggy nelson Solve Ableism
  • do not just sub in ‘catholic guilt’ for matt’s canonical depression (more on this)

On the internet I heard a story about a young girl who attended her local church. She sat right up front so she could see the signer who was there every week to interpret just for her. One week after church an elderly woman from the church stopped to speak to her. The interpreter quickly interpreted the woman’s words, “Don’t worry dear, one day you will be in heaven and you will be able to hear as well as the rest of us.”

The child quickly responded, her signs flying through the air, the interpreter spoke the words to the old woman…

“If it’s heaven – God will sign.”

Amen, Sister!

—  Dave Hingsburger, A Little Behind: Articles for Challenge, Change, and Catching Up

Disabled presenters tend to face really intense ableism. One way this plays out is that audiences laugh at us when we talk about serious things.

This happens particularly frequently when:

  • Nondisabled professionals or our parents are also on the panel, or presenting right before or after us.
  • The audience is primarily parents of disabled children/adults.
  • The audience is primarily professionals who work with people with intellectual disabilities.
  • We talk about a desire to be taken seriously.
  • We discuss our objections to being treated like children.
  • We describe being proud of a personal accomplishment.
  • We describe being treated inappropriately by a professional.
  • We describe how we felt as disabled children.

When audiences do this, it’s not nice laughter. It’s a way of asserting power. That laughter means “I don’t have to take you seriously”.

As a disabled presenter, it’s often possible to insist on respect. It’s easier said than done. It gets easier with practice, but the practice often hurts. Here are some things I’ve found helpful:

It can help to remind yourself that you know what you’re talking about, and the things you’re saying are important:

  • You’re presenting because you know what you’re talking about.
  • People should take your expertise seriously. When you talk about the things you know, they shouldn’t laugh at you.
  • Your accomplishments are not a joke. People should not laugh or be condescending about them.
  • People who treat you like a baby are doing something wrong. Your desire to be treated in an age-appropriate way is not a joke. People shouldn’t laugh at you for talking about it.

When an audience laughs at you, it can help to make it uncomfortable for them:

  • Don’t smile, and don’t laugh yourself.
  • Wait for the audience to stop laughing. 
  • Wait a second before going on to make it feel awkward. 
  • One option: Ask the audience “Why is that funny?” then continue.
  • Another option: Repeat what you said before people started laughing.

Try to avoid nervous laughter and nervous smiles:

  • It’s taboo for disabled people to talk about disability.
  • Talking about taboo topics can be embarrassing.
  • When we’re talking about embarrassing things, it can be natural to smile or laugh nervously.
  • If you seem embarrassed, the audience is more likely to feel like the topic is embarrassing and laugh to get rid of the embarrassment.
  • If you laugh, the audience is more likely to feel like it’s ok for them to laugh.

Making jokes on purpose:

  • Making jokes can be a way to control what people are laughing about.
  • This can be easier than getting them to not laugh in the first place. 
  • In these contexts, it can be better to avoid self-deprecating humor. 
  • It’s usually better to make jokes about ableism.
  • (This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule though, do what works for you.)

For instance, say you’re giving a talk about educational discrimination:

  • This is self-deprecating: 
  • “I was this ridiculous little kid in third grade. I was so enthusiastic, but I couldn’t even read. I’d hold up the books and pretend. My imaginary friend may have stolen the cookies, but she sure didn’t read for me.”
  • This is making fun of ableism:
  • “My teachers kept assigning me worksheets that I couldn’t do. They kept making me read in front of the class, even though I could never do it. They kept telling me to just do it. And they say we’re the ones who lack empathy and theory of mind.”

Don’t beat yourself up when things go wrong:

  • Presenters/panelists with disabilities face intense ableism.
  • It’s going to hurt sometimes.
  • The problem isn’t that your skin is too thin; the problem is that people are hurting you.
  • A thick skin is still worth developing.
  • If an audience laughs at you, it’s their fault, not yours. They shouldn’t act like that.
  • It’s messed up that we have to develop skills at deflecting ableism and insisting on respect. 
  • It’s also worth knowing that these skills exist and can be learned.
  • It gets much easier with practice, but no one succeeds all the time.
  • When a talk goes bad, don’t beat yourself up, and don’t blame yourself for the audience’s ableism.
  • You’re ok, they’re ableist, and the things you have to say are still valuable when they’re not valued.

These are some of the methods I’ve used to deal with audience ableism. There are others. What are yours?

Tl;dr Disabled presenters face a lot of intense ableism. In particular, audiences often laugh at us. Scroll up for some methods for insisting on respect.

hey kids, it’s time for your annual reminder that disabled people aren’t inferior to nondisabled people, that we/our bodies are not useless (nope, not even the disabled parts of our bodies!), and that we probably have a lot of abilities that you lack or haven’t developed as extensively as we have. in general, lots of disabled people are way better than you at so much stuff! so much better than you, oh my god

Physical handicaps are made the emblems of evil… . Giving disabilities to villainous characters reflects and reinforces, albeit in exaggerated fashion, three common prejudices against handicapped people: disability is a punishment for evil; disabled people are embittered by their “fate”; disabled people resent the nondisabled and would, if they could, destroy them. In historic and contemporary social fact, it is, of course, nondisabled people who have at times endeavored to destroy people with disabilities. As with popular portrayals of other minorities, the unacknowledged hostile fantasies of the stigmatizers are transferred to the stigmatized.
—  Death, Disability, and the Superhero: The Silver Age and Beyond

anonymous asked:

So you're saying we just let the mentally ill won free and hurt people. Ok then I hope a mentally ill person doesn't kill you

How the fuck did you get that from what I said? I said institutions shouldn’t exist.  I didn’t say there should be no constraints on people who hurt other people.  Institutions cause more violence than they solve.  

And mentally ill doesn’t mean likely to hurt people.  Most people who hurt people are not mentally ill.  Most people who are categorized as mentally ill don’t hurt people.  (I’m using your words and concepts here, not mine, mind you.)  The question of what to do about people who hurt people is entirely separate from the question of whether people with psychiatric disabilities belong in institutions.

Like… I’ve been in mental institutions, okay?  I’ve been hurt by other patients but I’ve been hurt worse and more consistently by staff with no known mental illness diagnosis.  The best institution staff I ever encountered was a psychiatric nurse with a diagnosis of bipolar.  She was good because she treated us like human beings.  She never had to use violence to stop us doing anything because none of us wanted to do anything to her and even those of us who got worked up would calm down when she talked to us because she fundamentally treated us like human beings.

Other crazy people have saved my life.  I hope a crazy person saves your life one day.  Maybe you’ll think differently about us.

Mind you, I’m not saying we’re all totally innocent people who would never hurt anyone.  I’ve hurt people before.  I’ve been hurt and gotten death threats from other people who’d probably be categorized as mentally ill.  I’ve also been hurt and gotten death threats from people who are categorized as completely sane.  I’ve had more sane people than crazy people hurt me.  By your logic all sane people should be locked up, since they’re the source of most violence, both inside and outside of institutions.  And most violence of institution is staff-on-patient, not patient-on-patient or patient-on-staff, although those two certainly happen.  Worse, a lot of the violence is invisible to those committing it.

I’ve had wonderful fine upstanding sane heroic citizens try to kill me.  As in, literally fucking try to kill me.  In a mental institution.  That kind of experience is the root of the violence problem I later developed.  The violence in institutions is contagious.  Being constantly on the bottom and stepped on can create in some people an unpredictable rage-violence that comes out at random times.  It would happen to anyone in our position, not just crazy people, either.  It develops in people in other kinds of institutions that are not specific to crazy people.

And that stereotype of mentally ill people as violent is exactly why they were able to try and kill me.  It’s also why they were able to get away with beating the shit out of me until there were bruises on every part of my body – everywhere.  And that was just the violence done to my body.  It’s the violence done to my mind, heart, and soul that are much harder to take, and much harder to put a finger on and explain to people.  And I doubt someone whose response to “institutions are terrible and shouldn’t exist” is “then crazy people will get out and kill everyone” would even understand that kind of violence or that it matters or that it can be the root cause of the stereotypical unpredictable violence supposedly found in so many crazy people (but actually found in few of us compared to the amount of violence found in people in general).

Because people saw me as crazy they jumped up and down on my hands in front of teachers and when asked to stop said “But she doesn’t feel it” because I couldn’t moe when they were doing it.  It’s why my first-ever stay in a mental institution a guy was able to insert his foot up my butt and wiggle it around sexually in front of an entire room full of patients and staff and nobody did anything except later whisper to me that it happened because they thought I hadn’t noticed because I couldn’t move.  (Being unable to move, in such contexts, is almost always thought psychiatric.  It was actually an early sign of a progressive movement disorder I  have to this day that was made worse by some of the meds they put me on.)

Like… I’ve had both sane and crazy people hurt me.  I’ve had both sane and crazy people help me.  People who hurt people need to be stopped.  Systems that hurt people also need to be stopped.  This goes no matter what category people do or don’t fall into.  Institutions are systems that always hurt people on a level far deeper than you can probably imagine.  They are not full of people who hurt people naturally.  They are full of inmates and staff.  Staff almost inevitably hurt inmates even without trying because the system forces them into that role.  That’s why institutions are far more dangerous than what you’re talking about:  They take people who would not ordinarily hurt people and force them into a power relationship that can’t easily avoid people getting hurt.

It’s interesting though when you talk about closing institutions.  People – no matter what their stance on things in general – almost always think that you mean just instantly removing everyone from a building without changing anything else about the society you live in.  Most people who want institutions closed are not talking about doing that.

So to be clear:

Closing institutions means finding ways to support disabled people without forcing us into a building with other people like us where we’re treated like non-persons and where the system forces an unnecessarily adversarial and sometimes physically violent relationship with the people who are supposed to be taking care of us.  Most people in disability institutions are not there because they hurt or try to kill people.  Those who are, will probably become more violent as a result of the institutions, and will definitely – like everyone else – experience a kind and level of violence that cuts much deeper than physical violence ever could.  

I personally was never particularly violent until I’d experienced institutions, and was only able to stop being violent by staying away from them.  And it’s other crazy people running around loose like me, who taught me how not to be violent and helped me heal from the violence I’d experienced.  As i said, I hope a crazy person saves your life one day.  Many crazy people have saved mine.  And I don’t mean indirectly and figuratively, I mean without these people I would have died many times over.

At any rate, as I said, there is absolutely nothing done in institutions that can’t be done better without them.  And that includes keeping people from being violent, although I honestly don’t think institutions do a very good job at that.  

Also, if things were the way you want them to be, then I would in no way be protected from violence. Because I would still be locked up.  And if crazy people are as violent as you say, and if we were all poised to kill people all the time, as if we’re nothing but violence-creating machines… that would mean if you lock us all up together, we’d be at more risk of violence from each other.  I suppose you probably think that’s okay.

That’s one thing I learned from disability-segregated settings.  We were all removed from being around nondisabled people for various reasons.  Many times, the reasons were simply that they didn’t want to have to deal with us.  Sometimes because we were loud.  Sometimes because we were violent.  Sometimes because we were “distracting” (read: did things that were unusual or unexpected, not necessarily violent).  Sometimes because we had “too many needs”.  Lots of things.

But fundamentally we were put there because other people refused to adapt to our presence near them.

But somehow, even though we were supposedly more limited in all areas including social ones.  We were supposed to adapt to each other.  And we mostly did.

It’s interesting how other people see us.  They throw us out of where they are, thinking we’ll become someone else’s problem.  They don’t care that we then have to deal with each other.

Which among other things means that people who get thrown out for doing things that harm other people, get thrown into the exact same places as people who are more vulnerable to harm or less able to tell anyone (or to be believed) if this harm happens.  And there is little to no effort made to protect us from each other.

In special ed this meant there was a boy who hurt several girls sexually and none of us were allowed to warn anyone about him because “confidentiality”.  And then it was our fault for being near him when he decided to do that to us.  And it was basically seen as okay that we were hurt by him.  He was removed from regular school for doing things like that.  But when he did things like that to other special ed kids, there was nowhere to remove him to, and we had to adapt to his presence, we had no choice and nobody would help us when he did something.

Mind you I’m not saying there should’ve been another more restrictive place they should have put him, away from us.

I’m saying there’s something broken about the whole idea that we can be removed from regular classrooms for reasons that just come down to convenience so that regular people don’t have to deal with us.  But then we have to deal with each other.  It shows that nobody actually cares if we get hurt, and that the segregated disability system is not designed to stop people from getting hurt.  The people within that system are simply not people and what happens to us doesn’t matter.  So lock us all up together and let us get hurt by each other as much as possible and nobody gives a shit as long as we’re not hurting them.

That’s what’s broken about your idea, about the whole idea that institutions protect people.  They sure as shit don’t protect the people inside them.  And despite everything I’ve just said, the people we most need protecting from aren’t each other, it’s the people who work there.  The sane people.  The nondisabled people or disabled people who can pass as nondisabled to some extent.  The people who, plugged into a violent system, will always to some degree become an automatic delivery system for violence that you can’t even imagine probably. And that violence automatically happens to people you don’t seem to give much of a shit about.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?  Who guards the guards themselves?  My favorite Latin saying.

Anyway.  There has to be a better way to deal with violence than to put people into a system that is inevitably violent and that creates more violence than it stops.  There has to be a better way to protect everyone from violence than to remove the violent people to a place where they can hurt people with impunity because the other people they are hurting, like them, have become nonpersons to society at large, and are also usually assumed to be violent whether we are or not.  

(And apparently if you’re violent then you are a nonperson who it doesn’t matter what is done to you.  But I’d think even if we’re all nonpersons to you you’d give a shit that the system makes us more violent, not less.  I did not seriously hurt people until I’d been in institutions a few times.  It took me years to unlearn the violence I learned there.  I didn’t learn it from other inmates.  I know someone who very non-coincidentally, almost did a school shooting immediately after being released from a psych ward.  If they’d done it, people would’ve blamed mental illness.  The psych ward stay was actually the final trigger that made them almost go through with it.  This was before school shootings were a well-known thing.  If they’d done it, the consequences in copycat crimes would’ve been like the consequences of Columbine.  And the despair that drove them in that direction was triggered by witnessing and experiencing severe violence at the hands of those fine upstanding saintly sane citizens who just happened to be horribly violent, sometimes murderous, to the people under their “care”, but who were seen as saints for dealing with crazy people at all.)

Institutions have a weird habit of creating the problems people claim they solve.

People think mental institutions protect people from violence.  They actually subject people to horrible violence, and do things in a way that makes even nonviolent people sometimes become violent, and violent people become more violent, as a result of what happens to them there.

People think nursing homes protect people from falls and dying and things.  Disabled people in nursing homes die younger and faster than people with identical disabilities receiving the support to live outside.

People think mental institutions somehow make people less crazy.  In many cases they make us more crazy or do nothing.  One of my experiences of them was I was told they were the only place I could turn for help when suicidal.  Suicide is sometimes a response to a feeling that you have no options and no hope.  When the system was seen as my only hope, and presented as my only hope, then when I didn’t feel any better there, and actually felt worse, I lost hope and became more suicidal not less.

I know that sometimes institutions do what they’re supposed to do.  But more often they do the opposite.  And even when they do what they’re supposed to do, there’s always a way to get the benefits presumed to exist in institutions, without the whole power structure that makes an institution an institution.

They’re also supposed to save money.  They generally don’t.  Sometimes they do.  Often they don’t.  People need to be cautious throwing this fact around because it can suggest that if we really are more expensive outside of institutions (and sometimes we are) then we belong in institutions because of the “cost to society”.  But nondisabled people have their needs (some of which are both very expensive and unique to people without certain disabilities) met without institutions for the most part, and so can we.

I currently live in my own apartment.  I get services through a system that gives services to people with developmental disabilities.  I qualify for admission to either a nursing home (institution for people with physical disabilities and chronic illness and old age related disabiliites) or an ICF-MR/ICF-DD (institution for people with developmental disabilities).  I’m not in either one of those things because people before me fought for the rights of people like me, to live in our own homes and receive the support we need here.  The support I need is pretty extensive.  

I can do very little entirely on my own.  I have complex medical needs, two feeding tubes (long story, but one’s for putting stuff in and the other is for taking stuff out), other medical implants and equipment, and a tendency to almost die in random ways that people barely figure out in time (my last ICU stay was almost exactly a year ago, I’d stopped breathing).  Until a couple conditions were properly diagnosed and treated I was in a complicated motorized wheelchair that tilted you back on the rare occasions I wasn’t in a hospital bed.  Throughout all this i’ve lived in my own home except for hospitalizations when very ill.  Throughout all this I’ve had to fight for my right to live in my own home as people freaked out by my care requirements tried to persuade me and/or those around me to put me in a nursing home or group home or etc.

People who would normally be put in mental institutions deserve complex, appropriate support.  Of a kind that rarely happens for us either inside or outside of such institutions.

People need to be stopped from being violent to other people.

The two groups of people referenced above are far from identical.

If you want to stop people from hurting or killing other people, creating an institution is the absolute last thing you should be doing.  Institutions take people who would never hurt anyone and make them hurt people, sometimes without even realizing what they are doing, sometimes realized but rationalized to themselves in various ways.  Institutions take people who normally would hurt people, and give them a mostly-blameless outlet for their violence.  And I’m talking mostly about nondisabled people here – the people who work in institutions.  If you want to save people from their violence the last thing you want to do is create a system that encourages and even mandates violence.  That would be obvious if you cared as much about stopping violence as you did about locking up crazy people.

And it also causes inmates to be more likely to be violent, whether we were originally prone to violence or not.  This hardly seems like a place for getting rid of violence.

I don’t know if you’ll listen to me, especially because I’m not giving you a lot of credit here.  I can’t make myself after what I’ve seen and the mood I’m in right now.  But maybe someone will read this and understand what I’m saying.  Like, I don’t care that people disagree with me, I do care that you seem to sincerely believe that institutions stop violence.  Or that you institutions would protect me (someone likely to be an inmate) from people you presume to be violent (other people likely to be inmates).  When they haven’t and they don’t.

Like, I’m not some starry-eyed utopian optimist.  I’m someone who’s seen the underbelly of a system I hope you never have to see the underbelly of.  And who can’t turn off that knowledge just because some people assume crazy = violent.

And yes I can use the term crazy, for anyone offended by it.  I prefer it to diagnostic terms or the idea that our minds are sick in the same way bodies get sick.  Other people have their own preferences and that’s fine.  This is mine.  I can’t say mentally ill for long without feeling like a liar.  Psychiatric disability is a term I sometimes use in mixed company to be polite or something but it doesn’t quite cover it for me.  YMMV.

If you want a more coherent and organized view on this, try Critic of the Dawn.  You’ve just basically brought out the ‘Bruce’ caricature she mentions and made it stand in for everyone in mental institutions (except staff, who are actually almost invariably more violent than inmates when taken as a whole).

Again, who guards the guards themselves?  That’s the problem with institutions.

[ETA: I corrected the Latin spelling. I didn’t bank on autocorrect… It’s “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” Translated variously as “Who watches the watchmen?” “Who guards the guards themselves?” “Who watches the watchers?” etc.  You can see the Latin root of English words such as custody, custodian, custodial, etc. And to the person who commended me on my patience, thank you, but I didn’t feel patient, i felt pissed.  Because it’s one thing to disagree with my views on institutions, it’s another to act like I’ve seriously never thought through that question despite the amount of thought i’ve clearly put into it.  And because that mentality that crazy people are dangerous is quite dangerous to crazy people and justifies some of the worst things that happen to us.]

"It's not just about wheelchair access"

I think that in disability discourse, wheelchair users face some fairly unique pressure to pretend not to be disabled. At the same time, wheelchair users are treated as the ultimate symbol of disability. In combination, I think there is very little space in which wheelchair users are allowed to talk about their actual experiences and needs. (Even in disability rights space.)

To some extent, all disabled people face some version of this. The thing I think is somewhat unique to wheelchair users is pressure to be the model of successful accessibility. There’s a misconception that accessibility is basically a solved problem for wheelchair users, and that we need to expand that model to all disabled people. This goes alongside a related misconception that the purpose of accessibility is to make disability irrelevant.

Wheelchair users face intense pressure to enthusiastically pretend that wheelchairs and ramps erase disability. This goes alongside pressure to have exactly the kind of disability that fits the story that others want to tell. The story goes: “Wheelchair users can’t walk. Wheelchairs and lifts and ramps solve that problem. If we had ramps everywhere, wheelchair users wouldn’t be disabled anymore.” The reality is much more complicated.

People get very angry when wheelchair users contradict this story. Wheelchair users are often not allowed to have access needs that don’t fit the story — and they’re also not allowed to have *abilities* that don’t fit the story. This anger is so intense that it’s dangerous for wheelchair users to stand and walk in public places. People also get angry at wheelchair users when a ramp is too steep, when it’s blocked, or when they insist that the existence of a lift isn’t good enough, they need to have the key so that they can actually *use* it. There’s not much room in the wheelchair access success story for talking about these realities.

There’s also not very much room in this success story for talking about the realities of growing up with a mobility disability. Children still grow up manhandled by therapists and pressured to learn to walk at all costs. Children still go through repeated surgeries aimed at fixing them. Children still get taught to allow adults to hurt them and touch them in ways that would be regarded as abuse if they were typically developing. Children are still pervasively excluded from educational and recreation activities and expected to bear it with a smile. Ramps and wheelchairs didn’t fix that, and accessibility advocacy should not make those things unspeakable.

The success story has even less room for talking about pleasure. Harriet McBryde Johnson said it better than I could, so I’m going to quote her:

“We need to confront the life-killing stereotype that says we’re all about suffering. We need to bear witness to our pleasures. …

Throughout my life, the nondisabled world has told me my pleasures must be only mental, never physical. Thinking to help me, it has said my body is unimportant. I respectfully disagree. For me, the body—imperfect, impermanent, falling apart—is all there is. Through this body that needs the help of hands and machines to move, that is wired to sense and perceive, comes all pleasure, all life. My brain is only one among many body parts, all of which work through one another and cooperate as best they can.”

McBryde Johnson, Harriet. Too Late to Die Young: Nearly True Tales from a Life (p. 255). Henry Holt and Co.. Kindle Edition.

Treating wheelchair users as a symbol of disability successfully erased has the effect of silencing wheelchair users. I think that a lot of us have been complicit in this silencing, and that we need to address this in disability culture. Partly for the sake of better solidarity with wheelchair users; partly because the silencing is hurting all of us.

I think that all disabled people face pressure to see ourselves as characters in a story about accessibility. Sometimes we’re expected to write the story. Sometimes we’re seen as characters in a story someone else is writing. Sometimes we’re supposed to believe that the story has already been written, and that all we have to do is get people to read the book.

I think that wheelchair users face particularly intense pressure to pretend that the story has already been written and has a satisfying ending. That’s not something any of us should envy. It’s not privilege. It’s silencing. And I think we need a lot less silence and a lot more solidarity. It doesn’t have to be this way, and it isn’t always this way. When we have space for honesty about the realities of disability, our communities are a lot stronger.

Wheelchair users are not a collective accessibility success story. Wheelchair users are people. None of us are stories. We’re all people. No amount of accessibility is going to make our bodies and brains irrelevant. Disability rights advocacy shouldn’t be about erasing difference. The point is not sameness; it’s equality. Accessibility is about building a world that treats us all as fully human, differences and all.

I often feel like we should be calling abled/nondisabled people enabled, because they are enabled by the society that disables the rest of us.

Enabled people have needs, limits, and health problems just as disabled people do. There are limits to how long they can stand or stay awake, how far they can see, how much weight they can lift or how far they can walk. There are limits to how much stress they can handle or how much or fast they can focus or comprehend or remember. They need emotional support and healthcare too.

Society is built with their limits and needs in mind, though, enabling them to participate with an ease that disabled people are simply not allowed.


my first letterpress print as an intern at Sawtooth Print Shop! thank you chris and nieves for providing the resources and space that allowed me to create this.

my inspiration for this piece comes from 2 places:

1. david wojnarowicz’s jacket at a 1988 demonstration during the american AIDS epidemic in the 80s (wojnarowicz died of AIDS in 1992)

2. my friend auden’s protest sign at the women’s march this past january, also inspired by wojnarowicz’s jacket)

i’m selling these for $12 + shipping (around $4) for nondisabled/neurotypical people, and $8 + shipping (around $4) for disabled/sick/mentally ill people. if you contact me about buying one, i’m going to assume you’re disabled/sick/mentally ill until you say otherwise! if this price isn’t accessible for you, let me know and we can figure something out.

[image 1: a photo of a letterpress print in teal ink that reads, “if i die uninsured - forget burial - just drop my body on the steps of the capitol building” with a line at the top and the bottom]

[image 2: a photo of the back of wojnarownicz’s jacket, which reads, “if i die of AIDS - forget burial - just drop my body on the steps of the F.D.A.” in uppercase white letters, with a pink triangle in the background]

[image 3: a photo of auden in their leather coat and a beanie. they hold a protest sign that says “If I die uninsured, forget burial — just drop my body on the steps of the capitol building”.]

7 Must-Read Articles on Diversity Within the Publishing

In the fall of 2015, Mira Jacob wrote a piece for BuzzFeed about a speech on diversity that she attempted to deliver at a publishing industry party, to which no one listened. For a person in publishing it’s a gut-wrenchingly shameful read. And I found it all the more so because, if I worked in New York rather than in San Francisco, I’d have been at the party in question. I like to imagine that, had I in fact been there, I’d have been among the “very small ring of people” who paid attention to Jacob’s speech—but would I really? Can I be sure?

In early 2016, the results of the first-ever industry wide Diversity Baseline Survey were released, and the numbers were just as bad as we’d all feared they would be. Publishing as a whole is 79% white. Given that fact, it’s hardly surprising that books and authors are not nearly as diverse as they ought to be either. Many people in publishing care deeply about these issues and want to fix the problem, but—despite some great efforts, particularly in children’s publishing, and amplified by organizations like We Need Diverse Books—the industry as a whole continues to struggle to change.

Here at Chronicle Books, there are a number of initiatives around this topic, but meaningful change takes time. As with any social action, it’s important to divide your energy between long-term, big-picture endeavors, and smaller-scale projects that can be implemented quickly. One such smaller project I’ve been working on for the past year and a half or so is creating and maintaining a library of articles on topics related to diversity issues, and sending out a monthly newsletter of recent articles of note. Drawn from that library, here are a few of the key moments in the ongoing conversation about diversity in the publishing industry, from the tail end of 2015 through 2016. Already this year the conversation has continued to evolve, so perhaps I’ll come back here with another installment soon. For now, read on.

1. I Gave a Speech About Race to the Publishing Industry and No One Heard Me

BuzzFeed, September 17, 2015

Author Mira Jacob discusses how she gave a speech on what it means to be a writer of color at the Publisher’s Weekly Star Watch 2015 party, and very few people listened. Then, she shares the text of her speech in full, detailing her experiences with the insidious nature of discrimination.

2. Equity in Publishing: What Should Editors Be Doing

PEN America, October 14, 2015

A round-table discussion including various editors, a number of of whom work on poetry and literary journals, discussing their editorial responsibility with regards to white privilege and creating a larger, more inclusive space for writers of color in the publishing industry. An extensive resources section at the end links to a number of other useful articles.

3. AAP, UNCF Partner on Internship Program

Shelf Awareness, January 15, 2016

The Association of American Publishers is partnering with the United Negro College Fund to create a paid summer internship program, intended to place African American students from historically Black colleges and universities at a number of industry-leading publishing companies. The positions range across of departments, including editorial, marketing, publicity, and sales.

4. First Diversity Baseline Survey Illustrates How Much Publishing Lacks Diversity

Forbes, January 26, 2016

This article details the results of the first-ever Diversity Baseline Survey of the publishing industry, conducted across numerous companies in 2015 and intended to capture a demographic snapshot of current staffing. The data confirms a lack of diversity, with the industry as a whole being: 79% white, 78% female, 88% straight, and 92% nondisabled.

5. Why Publishing Is So White

Publisher’s Weekly, March 11, 2016

In response to the results of the Diversity Baseline Survey (see above), this article examines hiring practices across the publishing industry to ascertain what factors create and maintain the lack of diversity. It concludes that while publishers do care about diversity, they are not yet taking effective steps to bring about lasting change.

6. Diversity In Book Publishing Isn’t Just About Writers – Marketing Matters Too

NPR Code Switch, August 9, 2016

Discussions of diversity in book publishing tend to focus on the demographics of authors and/or editorial staff, but it’s also important to talk about the impact of marketing. Marketers need to be able to make people care about books written by minorities, which comes with its own special challenges and skill-sets.

7. The Uncomfortable Truth about Children’s Books

Mother Jones, Oct/Sept 2016

An in-depth look at the lack of protagonists of color in kid’s books. The writer concludes that the questions roiling children’s publishing are among the pressing cultural questions of our time: Whose story gets told, and who gets to tell it? How do you acknowledge oppression without being defined by it? And to what extent should writers bow to popular opinion?

"Attention seeking behaviors"

Autistic people and other people with cognitive disabilities are often interpreted as doing things for attention, whether or not that explanation is plausible.

For example:

  • Alice is autistic. She flaps her hands.
  • Hand flapping is part of Alice’s body language. She moves her hands to express a large range of thoughts and feelings, just like some people move their facial muscles to express a broad range of thoughts and feelings
  • Alice also sometimes flaps her hands to calm down when she is overloaded
  • Bernice is a behaviorist. She is distressed about the fact that Alice flaps her hands.
  • Whenever Alice flaps her hands, Bernice stares at her, and pays intense attention to the fact that she is flapping her hands
  • Bernice notices that every time Alice flaps her hands, Bernice pays attention to her
  • Bernice concludes that her attention is reinforcing Alice’s flapping behavior
  • Bernice concludes that Alice’s hand flapping is an attention-seeking behavior
  • Bernice puts Alice on a behavior plan based on ignoring her whenever she flaps her hands

Behaviorists and others make this mistake a lot. They very, very frequently assume that the fact that they are paying attention to something means that it is being done to get their attention. It doesn’t. It just means they’re paying attention.

Starting at someone whenever they do something doesn’t mean that they’re doing it because they like being stared at. It just means that you’re staring at them.

tl;dr Stop calling everything attention seeking behavior. The fact that you’re paying attention to something doesn’t mean that someone is doing it because they want your attention. Not everything a person who has a developmental disability does is about you.

anonymous asked:

where would you draw the line between cool futuristic grinder stuff that gives disabled or trans characters agency, versus magic assistive tech that's basically a copout on writing disabled or trans people? (the thing you said much more eloquently in post/162753250550)

(link to the post in question: x)

that’s a great and really, really complicated question. there’s a cat sitting on my face right now which is minorly impeding my typing ability but i’ll try and answer it as best i can

first of all, a caveat: i cannot speak for all trans people, and i definitely cannot speak for all disabled people—it might not seem like it sometimes but there are, in fact, disabilities i do not have, lmao—so other people may have different feelings on some of this stuff! they should absolutely append, if they want.

now! on to science fiction (and fantasy) and disabled & trans representation. 

Keep reading

i love reading science fiction, but it’s such a frustrating, disappointing experience sometimes. even great writers of the genre like to use the formula of ‘what if something that’s considered abnormal now was totally normal in my alternate/future reality’ in ugly ways. because rather than actually explore these sensitive issues that they’re bringing to the spotlight, they just use them to shock the reader and to prop up the main argument of their work. so here’s haldeman writing the forever war in the seventies where we (the reader) are supposed to be as grossed out and alienated as the protagonist by stumbling into a future where every last person has somehow been brainwashed into turning gay - which is done for the sake of bolstering haldeman’s narrative about the soldier who has no home to return to after the war. and i was reading butler just now, a story of hers called “speech sounds,” which takes place in a dystopian world where order collapsed after everyone got a disease whose symptoms sound like a list of disabilities: there’s paralysis, deafness that’s described as a loss of language, “intellectual impairment,” loss of “reason” and “comprehension.” i think the story might have worked if butler had written this as a story about ableism and about the indifferent, arbitrary way that nondisabled people have built this world and about accommodations and how disabled people do find ways to adapt and live and try to change this world. but ultimately, it’s just another story about violence and social collapse cast in that subtly racist 80′s paranoia about urban decay with a glimmer of hope in the female protagonist (essentially an early sketch of her good and bad ideas that crystallize in the later parable of the sower).

anonymous asked:

Hi!! Please can you explain performative allyship for me please? Googling hasn't helped much...

Hey! There are actually a lot of solid resources on what performative allyship is along with good examples of what it looks like in action on the web if you search “performative allyship,” but: 

Performative allyship basically refers to any type of “allyship” (demonstrating support for a marginalized group) that prioritizes the emotions and work of the ally. It describes an action that is purportedly about marginalized people, but actually ends up being more about the ally and them feeling good about themselves/looking good to others. 

It’s the kind of action that screams “Look at me! I’m good! I’m not like them! I deserve a reward and all of your gratitude for just being here! I’m so great!” 

Performative allyship is basically about posturing, about naming yourself as An Ally ™ but not doing the real work, the dirty, ugly, background, unspectacular, unrewarded work that has to back that up. 

I personally think that the entire process of naming yourself as an ally is wildly performative and dangerous. So much harm has done by people claiming to be allies who were actually prioritizing their own ideas of decency and success and solutions onto issues they didn’t fully understand. 

It’s also really commonly used to ignore critiques and call-outs of your own behavior. ‘I can’t be homophobic — I’m an ally!” But taking lots of photos of yourself with a piece of tape with ‘NO H8′ written on it over your mouth doesn’t mean you can’t and don’t embody and enact heterosexism and homophobia, It generally just means you’ve got a lot of self-satisfaction and complacency about the “work” you’ve done, like you’re excused from further efforts because you put in the time. 

So I just… don’t have the patience for people who message me like “I’m able-bodied, but I really care about supporting disabled people. In fact, I went to the prom with a handicapped [sic]” like what the fuck do you want me to say to that? What are you hoping to accomplish besides getting a pat on the back? What’s your goal when you say very loudly that you would have taken in “victims of the Holocaust” but you do nothing to support people marginalized and threatened right now and you ignore the continued anti-Semitism in our world? Or when you reblog the selfies of (thin, white, nondisabled, conventionally attractive) trans people on TDOV with tags like “queen” and “celestial being of light,” “a goddess,” etc. but you do nothing to address, like, workplace discrimination and medical maltreatment of trans people? 

That’s performative allyship — showing everyone what a great ally you are at the cost of amplifying the voices of people in need and doing the ugly, unfabulous work behind the scenes. Like I don’t think “ally” is a label you can call yourself. Allyship is something you gotta do, not something you can just be without effort and intention. 

“Choosing to be disabled”

Ableists often believe that “choosing to be disabled” is a major social problem. They aggressively believe that most disabilities aren’t real, and that people could stop being disabled if they’d just make better choices. They think most disabled people are fakers who just stay disabled out of laziness.

They may see accessibility and accommodations as “enabling”, and try to get them taken away. Or, they may try to force people into treatment (whether or not safe and effective treatment actually exists.) Or they may just be mean and hostile towards disabled people they encounter. Or any number of other things. This hurts all disabled people badly.

People with disabilities often feel like they have to prove that they are not faking, and that their disability isn’t a choice. This can lead us to worry a lot about whether we’re somehow doing this on purpose. In this state of mind, it’s really easy to find things that feel like evidence that we’re fake.

Disability usually involves tradeoffs. We can’t choose to have all of the same abilities as nondisabled people, but we often can make some choices about which abilities to prioritize. This can superficially look like “choosing to be disabled” if you don’t understand how disability works.
For instance:


  • All medications have side effects
  • Managing the condition and the side effects can involve complicated tradeoffs
  • There is usually more than one option
  • It can often be a choice of what abilities you prioritize most, and which impairments are most tolerable
  • You may be able to choose to make any particular impairment go away
  • That doesn’t mean you could choose to be unimpaired
  • Ableists will think you are faking no matter which choices you make. They are wrong.

Mobility equipment:

  • People with mobility impairments often have more than one option, and there can be complex tradeoffs. 
  • Eg, which is more important to someone?
  • Being able to go further without fatigue (in a power chair) or being able to ride in a regular car (with a collapsable wheelchair)?
  • Being able to travel a mile on the sidewalk (in a wheelchair), or being able to use all of the subway stops (by walking)?
  • Being able to get into inaccessible buildings (by walking), or being able to go out without being in pain (in a wheelchair)?
  • Retaining the ability to walk (by spending a lot of time doing physical therapy) or being able to take a full course load in college (by spending that time on studying and losing the ability to walk)?
  • No matter which choice you make, ableists who don’t understand disability will see it as “choosing to be disabled”. They are wrong.

There are any number of other examples, for every type of disability. This affects every kind of disability, including physical, sensory, cognitive, psychiatric, chronic illness, and the categories I forgot to mention.

Tl;dr We all have to make choices about how to manage our disabilities, and there are often complicated tradeoffs. No matter which choices we make, ableists will think we’re making the wrong ones. No matter which choices we make, ableists will think that we are faking.

In the face of this kind of hostility, it is easy to start doubting ourselves and believing that we’re fake and terrible. It helps to remember that the ableists don’t know what they are talking about (even if they are disabled themselves). Making choices about how to manage disability is just part of life. The ableists are not experts in how you should be living you life; they are wrong and they are mean.

The only people applauded and privileged for being sexual are white cishet nondisabled men. People aren’t expected to be sexual, they’re expected to be heterosexual. And the “sex” part of sexualities means gender you homophobes, it has nothing to do with sex