Archive for the ‘Disability’ tag
Hello there. My name is Static Nonsense, though you can call me SN for short. I’m a queer, nonwhite trans person with physical and mental disabilities, along with a host of other things that I don’t remember right now due to being undercaffeinated in the wee hours of the morning. I write over at Some Assembly Required, about all sorts of things ranging from ableism and psychophobia to sexuality and BDSM – even gaming (because I’m such a dork like that). I don’t typically talk a lot about trans issues, but it’s something I’m getting back into after having essentially gone into hiding. So yeah. Hi.
I’ve been avoiding the trans community for a few years now. The pushback I get is too much for me to handle, and I’ve never been able to get the support I need from a community that really should get why having this support is so necessary. This wasn’t always an issue – it only started showing up when I became to understand that I am also mentally disabled. Even moreso when I started to come out about that fact, a part of myself that I didn’t see as having much relation to me being trans. Just, yanno, an extra tidbit of information. Which isn’t exactly true. I’m noticing that yes actually, my disabilities are a major factor in why I identify as trans. That shouldn’t be a problem, right?
Apparently it is.
Trans people get othered a lot. We’re pushed off as crazy, disordered, for challenging the social norms of gender and sex. Either by choice in trying to deconstruct this ancient structure, or simply by existing. Throughout history we’ve been institutionalized or “fixed” (or tried to be) simply for existing as ourselves in a world that focuses so strongly on the cissexist concept of penis = man = masculine and vagina = woman = feminine. Even now the disconnect of the body and one’s self identity is seen as a disorder, one that must be treated and fixed so that we can fit neatly into this dichotomy again.
This has pushed a lot of us on the defensive, and understandably so. Transgenderism isn’t a disorder and shouldn’t be treated as such in society – it’s an identity, an intricate part of who we are as people.
But it sometimes goes to extremes. All too often people are quick to point out that they’re not crazy. People with mental illness are crazy, and people shouldn’t conflate the two. Trans people aren’t loony like those real loony people are. Which causes a whole mess of problems a la ableism, psychophobia and a combination of misunderstanding and misinformation.
For one, it isolates trans people with mental illness, even when they don’t relate. Because suddenly, they are those real loony people. The ones being targeted, within a community they’re seeking support from.
Second, it asserts that the only true and appropriate identity is one that isn’t a result of mental illness. Which is leaving me with the question of “WHY?”
Various mental disorders can shape one’s identity. What exactly is the problem with that? Why exactly is an identity shaped without the influence of mental illness more valid than one that is influenced by them? An extreme but perfect example is Dissociative Identity Disorder, where the identity of the self is so fragmented that the system can be composed of so many identities, some of which can directly contradict others. This is in constant fluctuation, and many of these can be present all at once, individually or sometimes none at all. This is effectively the case with me, where I can identify as a man, a woman, both, neither or something else entirely – be it all at once, one or two of these at a time or fluctuating constantly throughout the day. And while it can last for just minutes or days, it can also extend over several years, to the point where I originally sought out transition as a trans man due to the disconnect between being female-assigned-at-birth (FAAB) and identifying as a man for so long. And that’s not including the added fragmentation of schizotypy, where I see the world abstractly and thus didn’t have a clear grasp on this concept of penis = man = masculine and vagina = woman = feminine, even when my abusive peers tried to teach me this clear absolute true fact of the world, and I still don’t.
Since then I’ve come to the general identity of genderqueer or genderfluid (depending on which day you ask me), allowing myself to shift between these various gender identities freely as my mind naturally shifts in response to situations and just its own natural state. But this is a state I had to come to entirely on my own. I did not have the support of my own community, because in their eyes I am crazy and not “really” trans because of the possibility of my identity being a result of my mental disorders. I make them look bad, because crazy is automatically bad and I’m the reason they’ve been victimized for so many centuries.
When in actuality, maybe the issue isn’t with who is really crazy and who isn’t. Maybe the issue is with our society’s concrete idea of the gender and sex dichotomy, its complete disregard for the identity and rights of people regardless of where they stand on the spectrum, and how it treats people that don’t line up perfectly with their ideals. Perhaps this concept of craziness has just been a scapegoat for the actual issue at hand, a weapon used to demonize the people that don’t line up with their ideals. An age-long system of oppression built on cissexism and transphobia, utilizing ableism and psychophobia to attack, ostracize and well, oppress.
But what do I know. I’m the crazy one, after all.
For Immediate Release
September 17, 2008
For information Contact:
Randy Alexander (901) 359-4982
Marsha Katz (406) 544-9504
50 Arrested as ADAPT Takes Affordable, Accessible Housing Crisis to Congress
Washington, D.C.—From their base at “DUH City”, groups of ADAPT activists fanned out on the Hill to hit congressional leaders who have responsibility to help solve the housing crisis for low income people with disabilities. Visits to the offices of Rep. Barney Frank (D, MA), a longtime leader on housing issues, and Senators Chris Dodd (D, CT) and Richard Shelby (R, AL), the Chair and ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs resulted in a total of 50 arrests.
“Our first stop was to see Rep. Barney Frank,” said Diane Coleman of ADAPT in Rochester, New York. “ADAPT has been in talks with him over the past year, and early on he told us in no uncertain terms that he could get 500 housing vouchers from HUD that would be targeted to free people with disabilities who live in nursing homes and other institutions. He repeated that promise for months, and we kept trusting his word, and then one day he suddenly says he can’t help us. We were also working with him to get funding that pays for segregated housing redirected to support integrated housing and more vouchers. Sen. Frank arranged a hearing on this funding, and not only did he not invite any people with disabilities to testify, he didn’t even notify us about the hearing. So, today, we decided to confront him on his broken promises and bad faith.”
Shortly after 13 ADAPT members entered Franks’ office, he ordered staff to have them arrested, refusing to even discuss the ADAPT concerns, or strategies to address the housing crisis for low income people with disabilities trapped in institutions for lack of affordable, accessible, integrated housing.
ADAPT went to the offices of Dodd and Shelby because HUD and housing fall under the purview of their committee. Sen. Shelby declined to work with ADAPT saying, “I don’t help people who can’t help themselves.” There were 19 arrests made in Shelby’s office. An aide to Sen. Dodd spoke with ADAPT, but declined to put her remarks on paper after indicating she might be willing to do so. ADAPT conti
nued to wait for the written statement, and eventually nearly 25 people were arrested.
“The TV is full of news about the bank crisis, and the mortgage crisis, and the need for candidates to appeal to middle income people,” said Cassie James, Philadelphia ADAPT organizer. “Meanwhile, people who live on disability benefits, and people who are trapped in nursing homes because of no housing are being held hostage while the government bails everyone else out. Rent has gone up so much, it’s higher than many monthly disability benefits. Not only do us younger people with disabilities need affordable, accessible housing, older people need it, too. This is a crisis, and we need help to solve it.”
ADAPT has been in D.C. since September 13, erecting DUH City, a tent city, on the plaza outside HUD headquarters to bring attention to the situation of the people who have been ignored in this election year- low income people with disabilities. The crises with the economy and housing extend well beyond the middle class, but the Presidential candidates and their parties have seemingly forgotten that fact. Not so, ADAPT.
A public service announcement from the Autistic Self Advocacy Network:
Language can cause harm.
For clarification: This video is a response from disability activists to the producers of Tropic Thunder for the gratuitous use of an ableist slur. The video uses the slur for impact.
31 July 2008 – Philadelphia Nine people have been charged in the 2006 starvation death of Danieal Kelly, a 14-year-old girl with cerebral palsy. Danieal weighed 42 pounds (46 in some reports) when she succumbed to starvation. She last more than 50% of her body weight before dying. While her mother was charged with murder and her father was charged with child endangerment, seven other people were charges in this case.
These accomplices included two Department of Human Services child protection workers who were charged with failing to protect the child who was officially under their protection, and two social workers working for a private agency contracted to oversee Danieal’s care. The DHS workers were cahrged with child endangerment and one was charged with lying to the grand jury. The private agency workers were charged with involuntary manslaughter and one was charged with falsifying records. The remaining arrests were friends of Danieal’s mother who were charged with giving false information to obstruct the investigation. It is unusual for child protection workers to be held criminally responsible for the abuse, neglect, or even the death of a child, but in this case the evidence of failure and cover-up appears to be overwhelming. Obviously, all who have been charged will have the opportunity to defend their alleged actions and inactions at trial.
But that’s just the beginning of the post. There’s so much more. Like this gem<b>POSSIBLE TRIGGERS</b>:
In the final weeks of her life, Danieal’s brother – himself only a child – kept telling his mother that something was wrong, but she dismissed him. Shortly before his sister died, he begged his mother to call an ambulance. She refused. Only the next day, with flies buzzing all over her body, was 911 contacted.
icad has more here.
The charges against nine people in the death of Danieal Kelly (see previous icad post) has received a great deal of public attention and sparked a great deal of public outrage. Two things make this case stand out:
1. While it is not rare for parents to be charged i the death of a child through neglect, it is very unusual for criminal charges to be brought against child protection or social workers for failure to protect a child.
2. In some cases, a child’s disability has been used as a convenient excuse for not holding caregivers responsible. There have been a number of cases of children with disabilities being starved and neglected to death or near death before, and the death has often been blamed on the child’s disability, rather than fatal neglect. In this case, the unnecessary death of a child with a disability was taken seriously.
A few more stories to show how common this sort of thing is.
Cripchick’s hosting the 37th edition of the Disability Blog Carnival:
Disability Identity: What Do You Think??
The Disability Activist Collective, a group of disability activists working to create change within the disability community by shifting focus towards culture and identity, is currently collecting pieces (poetry, art, essays, videos, blog posts) on disability culture, community and identity in hopes of creating a website or hub on disability culture. This carnival is your chance to participate in the building of it!
This edition will focus on disability identity and culture in all its forms (i.e. radical disability pride, understanding disability through various frameworks, disability intersecting [coming together] with other identities, dealing with pain, etc.).
The deadline to submit something is officially May 4th though I will keep adding people in through a rolling basis. The blog carnival will go on air May 8th. You can submit things by leaving a link in a comment to this post, emailing me it at consciouslycrip [at] gmail [dot] com, or using the blogcarnival.com tech.
The Angry Black Woman is hosting a blog carnival for allies:
I’ve been thinking about many things since the whole “Thank You, White People” post debacle and subsequent influx of white supremacists who seemed to come here with the intent of saying, “You thought you dealt with racists on a daily basis? HA! We’ll show you what REAL racism is!” And they did. One of my reactions was to say that for every white ally who acknowledged racism and worked to fight against it, there were 20 others wishing to drag us back to Jim Crow and worse. Then smart commenter Jackie said:
Thing is, I don’t believe there’re 20 of them for every one of us (black or white or other) who wants to make things right; I think there’s actually somewhat fewer of them. But for each white supremacist (and for each person of any color who wants to make things right) there are 20 nice, well-meaning, but privileged and entitled white people who thing “racism is bad” but have no idea whatsoever that real racism exists, or what it’s like to be a target of it. Or how much they have benefited from their European coloring, and from not having centuries of slavery and legally enforced poverty limiting every aspects of the parents’ and grandparents’ and great-great-great-grandparents’ lives.
This got me thinking about those white folks who exist in that liminal space where they are against racism but don’t understand how it works and get defensive, hurt, and freaked out when folks point out how they benefit from it without trying. We saw a lot of that on the Thank You thread before the others showed up. I am wondering how you turn that kind of person into an ally. I’m wondering if maybe I cannot simply because, when they read my words, they are so filled with defensiveness and perhaps guilt, nothing I say can get through. If they can’t listen to me, can they maybe listen to other White people?
And that got me wondering if this was true for any kind of ally. Is it easier to understand oppression, to move past guilt and on to useful dialogue, etc., if the person explaining these things to you in-depth is a person like yourself? White or male or straight or Christian or whatever? I don’t know. But as this is the Internet, it should be easy to figure out.
The deadline is May 5th, and I apologize for my own atrocious lateness in posting about it.
Crip Chick posted about the really cloying, condescending pity that people like to dump on people with disabilities. How people will use that pity to turn her into an inspirational symbol rather than deal with her as a human being.
It’s something I’ve received too, as a trans woman. Not as often – more often, it’s hate, but sometimes people want to show just how accepting and tolerant they are, and tell me “You’re so brave for doing what you’re doing.” I guess if I can’t be a symbol of patriarchal oppression I get to be a symbol of how good a person someone is.
Anyway, yeah, I totally sympathize here. Go read her post.
Elizabeth McClung has posted an entry on Screw Bronze that everyone should read. It might be easy to brush what she says off, but every single person in the world who does not already have a disability is one accident or diagnosis away from having a disability.
Katie Jones is, well, here’s the article.
Kactus has posted a link roundup to posts about this. To Kay at the Gimp Parade and Alas, Ms. Crip Chick, Bint Alshamsa at My Private Casbah, Trinity at The Strangest Alchemy, Shiva at Biodiverse Resistance, F.R.I.D.A., and brownfemipower at La Chola.
Read all of those posts, because my paltry few paragraphs do nothing to illuminate this.
I find this disturbing, to say the least, because it shows yet again that some lives are disposable, or perhaps just less valuable than others – in this case, a child with disabilities. I don’t know what Katie Jones’ wishes are, whether she wants to live and is willing to go through resuscitation again, but that’s because the article doesn’t tell us. It makes her parents’ wishes very clear. But this is something that comes up again and again when it comes to parents of children with disabilities – the child is dehumanized into a burden that the parents must bear, and many (or even all) decisions about that child’s welfare come directly from that position as a burden, or even the assumption that able-bodied people know what’s best for their children with disabilities, as if the child’s wishes just aren’t relevant.
In the extreme, we see parents murder their children, and not only do they not suffer harsh sentences for doing so, they often receive sympathy from the press and community because they had it so darned hard because of their child’s additional needs – and never mind the fact that the child’s life is just written off.
Trinity has several posts about murdered people with disabilities.
I’m not saying Katie’s parents are on the verge of murdering her, but requesting that life-saving medical care be withheld if she’s about to die without it doesn’t fall far from that tree as far as I’m concerned. Children with disabilities aren’t pets to be put to sleep when they become too much trouble, they’re human beings, on the same level as any able-bodied person, and deserve to be treated as such.
And yeah, the story makes me angry.
Queen Emily describes what being transgender means to her. I need to post my own, soon.
Drakyn posts his description here.
Shiva describes the natural alliance of disability and transgender activism. I intend to cover this myself, but I didn’t get this done by today as I’d planned.
Monica Roberts continues her Transgender Day of Remembrance posts with Remembering Our Dead.
Gorgon Queen expresses some common frustration about the transphobia coming from certain prominent gay men.
Cara on Feministe posts about the transgender politician sued for fraud. I covered this somewhat, but didn’t comment much. Cara has a lot to say that I happen to agree with.
Brownfemipower, BlackAmazon, Donna, and Sylvia respond to Hugo Schwyzer resurrecting the Full Frontal Feminism controversy. The discussion about how women of color are marginalized in feminism is very to the point.
Miss Crip Chick wrote a poem everyone should read.
Kim at Bastante Already explains why she turned away from online radical feminism.
Dw3t-Hthr of Letters from Gehenna posts regarding mental health, sexual assault, and the personal being political.