To the Guy at Yonge and Dundas:
I’m a bit new at this, having come a bit late to the physical disabilities side of this game, so forgive me if I don’t sound grateful for what you did or something. I think it’s part of the privilege that goes with having grown up in a disabled bodied that has always managed to pass as able-bodied. I have some expectation of my own independence and right to manage my own body instead of it becoming property for others to manage and manipulate for me, with dispassionate hands and voices.
It’s been an adjustment for me you see, to have to figure out how exactly it is that I should act and behave. Shocking for me that I should be expected to spill exactly “what is wrong with my legs” to random strangers in grocery stores; on busses; in the drug store; everywhere that I go. I thought that I was entitled to a sense of medical privacy. Years of dealing with invisible illnesses has taught me that people don’t really actually want to know, it’s just some way of turning the disabled into a freak show. That our misfortune becomes the entertainment of the minute; hour; day; week.
I don’t think I ever got the memo that disabled people were supposed to be passive, helpless and dependent. I go to school, I work, I’m an activist (even if it is sometimes just an armchair, or more likely bed activist because that’s all my huge fatigued activist heart can manage). In fact, yesterday when you so confidently inserted yourself upon my life I’d been spending my morning at the Ryerson library, working on a paper for publication, which is ironically focusing on how we as researchers can do a better job of working in the Deaf community because disabled people can contribute to the academic discourse now. I have goals and dreams and I’m getting out there and doing it. It’s been hard to reconcile that image with someone who uses a mobility device, who has to ask for friends and family to help me with certain tasks, but there are only so many times you can barely manage not to fall while using a cane before even a young person accepts the inevitability of needing a walker or more intensive interventions.