Today is the International Day of Acceptance.
As I get older the more I admit to myself that I am, in fact, disabled. I have one leg. I hated being called handicapped when I was younger. Hated the word. Hated what it implied. But, it is a fact of my life. It’s not something I think a lot about at this point. I mean, it’s just my life. I can’t change it and I don’t regret it (hello, I really like living and stuff), so why spend any energy thinking about it.
But, I am privileged. I walk upright and rarely need assistance in my life. I don’t need automatic doors or ramps. I don’t need braille or assistive technology to read a menu. I don’t need someone that can sign or have to read lips to communicate. I don’t need to wait on unreliable public transportation to get me from various places.
I am lucky. I am privileged.
That doesn’t mean I haven’t felt the sting of being judged based totally on my disability. I’ve had people make ableist comments about how I raise my children. I love how people say they would NEVER use a “leash” on their child. Well, for me, if it keeps my child from running out into traffic because I can’t hold her hand, yeah, I’ll put a damn leash on my child.
When I was still an actor, on more than one occasion, well meaning directors told me if I just wore a prosthesis… Yeah, because it’s just that easy. It doesn’t take time, MONEY (the c-leg knee is the same as a brand new luxury car), hours of PT to learn to use it. Also, why should I change the way I physically look when you don’t make others? Why should I have to add a body part when I’m talented WITH or WITHOUT my leg.
It’s time to notice that people with disabilities are all around you. They are fighting to be noticed. To be heard. We are fully realized human beings. We are not your fetishes or inspiration. We are people.
It’s time to make the world accessible to all.