The Language of Disability

Not that long ago I didn’t consider myself disabled. Society had taught me disabled people were in wheelchairs, had some level of impaired mobility, or had moderate to severe cognitive disabilities. Sure chronic illness had completely taken over my life, but in my eyes I wasn’t disabled enough.

Fast forward to maybe nine months ago, I realized I was in fact disabled by my chronic illnesses and took on the label with pride. For me disabled is both a description of how chronic illness affects my life and a political label. I don’t have a problem with being referred to as disabled, because it’s true.

A lot of people however don’t seem to like the word “disabled.” When I was in high school I applied to become a “Best Buddy” which is a program where you befriend someone in the special education program. Fortunately or unfortunately for me (depending on how you look at it) they didn’t have enough special ed kids for all of the volunteers to have a buddy, so I never got one.

I did go to a training class after school one day, and something from it has stuck with me. They talked about how you shouldn’t ever say someone is disabled, instead say “a person with a disability, differently abled, or handi-capable.” The funny thing about the language of disability is I only see parents/caretakers asking people not to say disabled, never actual disabled people. I’m sure there are disabled people out there who don’t like the term, but I personally haven’t run across any. Many people take on the label with pride and try to advocate for themselves and others with disabilities.

I personally have a problem with the term “differently abled.” Disabled people aren’t differently abled, they are disabled. There are things we can’t do, point blank, end of story. For me some days I can do something and the next day I can’t, but there are also things that I’m never abled to do no matter the circumstances. “A person with a disability” isn’t offensive, I just find it unnecessary. The argument for the other side is that you should put the person before the disability. I feel you don’t have to take that literally. As long as someone is being respectful and isn’t  using a demonizing or belittling tone, then there isn’t anything wrong with saying “disabled people” or a “disabled person.”

Of course you should treat someone like a human being, and not reduce them to their diagnosis. However I don’t fid it necessary to say “person with a disability” every time you speak about disabilities. What are your thoughts? Do you use the term disabled to describe yourself?

Trumps Latest Attack on Trans Rights

I would like to say I was surprised to wake up yesterday morning and find the tweets about banning trans people from the military, but honestly nothing he does shocks me anymore.

This however did seem out of the blue to me. No conversation, only a declaration. While technically nothing is set in stone or law yet, even stating these kinds of hatful things is harmful. This is the slow way to eventually ban trans people from existing. If they can’t go to the bathroom and can’t in the military, where can trans people exist then?

I wouldn’t say that I personally support the military in all of its endeavors, but being pro-military or not isn’t what this is about. Your gender shouldn’t determine what you can and can’t do or what you can and can’t be in life. If your willing to put your life on the line, you should be welcomed with open arms and allowed to live an authentic life.

Trump claims trans people are a “burden” due to their medical costs. The US military has quite the track record of not taking care of their veterans, or active duty member for that matter when it comes to health care of any kind. Not to mention not all trans people medically transition, and you shouldn’t assume they will or want to.

There are also over 15,000 trans people currently serving in our military. What’s going to happen to them? He acts like he’s stopping trans people from joining the armed forces, but no trans people are already serving.  You cannot end sometimes career because of their gender identity. Are you going to discharge them like they did back when “don’t ask don’t tell” was a law? We’re going backwards on the progress we’ve made.

I believe this is just the beginning of an attack on the LGBTQIA+ community. He’s gone after trans people multiple times now, and it isn’t going to stop unless there is enough backlash. Even then it may not end. Gaby Dunn made a video about this, and she believes that Trump is going after trans people first, because they don’t always get the support that other members of the LGBTQIA+ members receive. I completely agree, and since that’s probably true everyone in the community, and everyone who is a decent human being, should show up and support trans people.

The LGBTQIA+ community is resilient and we will not let him get away with this.

Reclaiming LGBTQ+ Slurs

In the past five years or so “Queer” has become an increasing popular label for many people to describe their gender and/or sexuality. However not that long ago it was widely used as slur to harm the community. Is it okay to “reclaim” slurs?

I’m coming from the stand point of someone who has never been called a slur. Sure I’ve heard them many times, in both positive and negative ways, but no one was referring to me. Queer is a word I sometimes use to describe myself and the community. When writing “Queer community” I often wonder if that phrase is offensive to some people in the community. To be honest I use it mostly because saying LGBTQIA+ community over and over is long, and begins to feel repetitive. I would never mean for it to make someone feel uncomfortable or bring back bad memories for them.

For many people like me, we’ve never heard “queer” used in a negative connotation so it doesn’t seem like a negative thing. Recently I was watching Ash Hardell’s video about this topic and they had some really great things to say. Ash talked about how “Queer” is not commonly used as a slur anymore, and they felt that in order to reclaim a slur is shouldn’t be commonly used. Maybe it’s just the area I live in but I’ve never heard someone say “queer” as a slur. They also brought up the point that “Queer” originally meant “peculiar or odd” and didn’t have a violent background like some of the other slurs.

There are other slurs like the f word, or the d word, or the t word that haven’t been completely reclaimed. A handful of of people will use the word to describe themselves in order to try and take back the power from the bullies and hateful people who have used it towards them. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with doing this, but using the word to describe a whole group of people can be problematic. Some people who have been deeply hurt by a certain word do not want to be called that in way, shape, or form. Labels are all about personal preference, and some words shouldn’t be used to describe a group of people as a whole.

How to you feel about reclaiming slurs?

Do you use any reclaimed slurs to describe yourself?

Self-Expression After Coming Out

A few months ago BuzzFeed released a video on how people’s style changed after coming out, and they had a group of people dress like their closeted selves for a day. Honestly I didn’t think other people had thought this through as much as I had.

Before I came out, and before I accepted my sexuality I was overtly feminine. I worse lots of skirts, dresses, jewelry, heavy makeup (ugh someone should had told me I looked terrible), and I had long hair. I never had a girly style before but I felt more pressure as I got older to trade in the messy bun and basketball shorts, for long curled hair and a mini-skirt. A lot of it was sub-conscious and I didn’t really realize what I was doing until years later.

I would see things I wanted to wear, but thought “no that’s too masculine.” In reality it wasn’t masculine at all, it just wasn’t nauseatingly feminine like I had made myself used to. After coming out something just switched. I wore whatever I wanted, which was usually still leaning towards feminine, but I felt more comfortable. I normally wear jeans, a shirt, and vans or clarks. So does sexuality affect style?

I would say yes and no. In some instances once people are comfortable with themselves and come out, then they feel they can dress how they’ve always wanted to. Like any culture or community there is a specific style that a lot of people follow. Some stereotypes are here for a reason, I mean a lot of lesbians do wear flannel, like a lot. I don’t think it’s bad thing though, unless you feel like you have to change the way you dress in order to be taken seriously or fit in.

My self-expression changed when I became comfortable with myself, and I think that’s true for a lot of people. When you spend months, years, or even decades being uncomfortable the second you stop feeling even a tiny percentage of that awkwardness, you never want to go back.

Did your style or general self-expression change after coming out?

What changed?

 

Should Non-Binary People Identify as Gay?

It’s come to my attention that some people don’t think those who are non-binary should identify as gay or a lesbian because their gender doesn’t conform to traditional definitions of male and female, but I couldn’t disagree more.

Labels are a very personal thing and I don’t think we should tell one another how to label themselves. If someone who once identified as a lesbian now realizes they’re non-binary and feels like the gay/lesbian label invalidates their experience as someone who is non-binary, then by all means they should use another label. If they have taken comfort in a specific label and want to continue to use it, then they should. LGBTQ+ people have been challenging the ideas and traditional roles of gender since the beginning of time, especially lesbians. I saw something on Tumblr ( aka home of all lesbians) that I really agreed with, but unfortunately can’t find the post.

Essentially the idea was that lesbians have always challenged gender stereotypes and roles, even before there was language to describe the experience of being non-binary. Policing someone else’s identity and telling them what they can and cannot identify as is not okay and goes against Queer history and what many people have fought for. Not to mention it’s transphobic to try and keep non-binary people out of gay/lesbian spaces.

Everyone defines their sexuality differently. Even the “most common” sexualities are defined differently by different people. Just because you’re gay doesn’t mean you get to police other’s identities within the LGBTQ+ community. You don’t get to decide if they’re gay enough or not. We’ve all had someone question our identities at one point, so why do we do it to one another?

We should be lifting up one another, instead of trying to make sexuality an exclusive club.

 

 

LGBTQIAP+ Pride Month!

June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month!

The month of June was chosen for LGBTQ+ Pride because in June of 1969 the Stonewall Riots took place. While every city picks a different day for their pride parade, some in June, and some not, pride is about more than a parade or festival.

Pride recognizes the fight and struggles of those who came before us and paved the way. It brings awareness to today’s LGBT issues and sheds light on where we can do better as a society. Pride is also a time to celebrate the whole LGBTQIA+ community and Queer culture.

This month I plan on doing lots of LGBTQ+ related posts. Let me know if there’s something specific you want me to write about!

How are you celebrating pride?

Love of love,

Alyssa

Being on Your Own Timeline

In the U.S. and especially in the suburbs there’s a pattern to life that your assumed to follow.

Graduate high school, go straight away to a University, graduate college in four years, get your first job, get married, have kids, etc.

I was raised to believe this is the only way to be successful in life, but after having my life interrupted by chronic illness and having to pave a different path for myself I’ve learned just how wrong that is. Everyone does things at their own pace; some people aren’t mature enough to go to college straight out of high school or can’t financially make ends meet so they have to work before going to school. For other people college just isn’t the right choice for them, or they choose to go back to school later in life.

While I am definitely pro-education and believe, given the opportunity, you should obtain as much education as possible, I can see that there are situations that can make that difficult or near impossible. You don’t have to have life figured out at 22, or even your own life figured out.

While there’s always going to be a lot of external pressure to follow a certain timeline, only you can know what’s best for yourself. Right now it’s best for me to be out of high school while I pursue my GED and get my health on track, to other people the decisions I’ve made may not be what they think is right, but I don’t believe you can speak to experiences you haven’t had.

Every time I meet someone new there’s always a million questions about school and extra curricular’s. I don’t feel the need to tell my sob story to everyone I meet so I often tell them the town I live in and let them make their own assumptions. Occasionally I’ll tell people the things I used to do when I was in school without mentioning I don’t go there anymore, but that’s normally when I’m uncomfortable with all the questions and feel like I’m being judged.

It’s crazy how narrow minded people can be. I try to put myself in other peoples shoes and examine situations from all aspects the best that I can. There isn’t one correct way to live life and I think this plan we’ve created as a society and seem to believe everyone should follow to a T can be really detrimental. You’re not a failure if your life doesn’t look like the majority of your peers, friends, or family members. You also don’t have to have the same dreams and goals as everyone around you.

Be yourself and do things on your own timeline!

Alyssa