Recommended Reading for January 1st

Warning: Offsite links are not safe spaces. Articles and comments in the links may contain ableist, sexist, and other -ist language of varying intensity. Opinions expressed in the articles may not reflect the opinions held by the compiler of the post.

The Deal with Disability: Letter to Invacare

When I called to discuss this matter and get an email of someone in customer service, I was informed that you don’t have a customer service or email and the only way to file a complaint was verbally. This is impossible because my disability renders me NON-VERBAL. College appeals ruling on disabled student

Oakland University in suburban Detroit says it’s appealing a court ruling that it must allow a cognitively impaired, non-degree student to live on campus. The Rochester, Mich., school says student Micah Fialka-Feldman can live on campus during the appeals process.

“The issue is a bigger issue than just Micah,” university spokesman Ted Montgomery told the Detroit Free Press. In a statement Wednesday, the university said the judge’s ruling “does not satisfy the legitimate interests of the university’s matriculated, degree-seeking students.”

ABS-CBN News: Senate OKs bill empowering persons with disabilities

MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Pia S. Cayetano has welcomed the passage by the Senate of a proposed measure that seeks to give a voice in local governance to the country’s estimated 9.7 million persons with disabilities (PWDs).

Senate Bill No.3560, otherwise known as “An Act establishing the institutional mechanism to ensure the implementation of programs and services for persons with disabilities in every province, city and municipality,” was approved unanimously on second reading by the Senate on December 16 before going on a four-week recess.

New York Times: Seeking a Cure for Optimism

Recently, a number of writers and researchers have questioned the notion that looking on the bright side — often through conscious effort — makes much of a difference. […]

A study published in the November-December issue of Australasian Science found that people in a negative mood are more critical of, and pay more attention to, their surroundings than happier people, who are more likely to believe anything they are told.

“Whereas positive mood seems to promote creativity, flexibility, cooperation and reliance on mental shortcuts, negative moods trigger more attentive, careful thinking, paying greater attention to the external world,” Joseph P. Forgas, a professor of social psychology at the University of New South Wales in Australia, wrote in the study. […]

[Barbara L. Fredrickson, a psychology professor at UNC] cautions that the idea of “fake it till you make it” can actually be harmful to one’s health. “What my research shows is that those insincere positive emotions — telling yourself ‘I feel good’ when you don’t — is toxic and actually more harmful than negative emotions.

The Washington Post: Military helps families find care for special-needs kids

The Poway Unified School District near San Diego offered Driscoll’s 11-year-old, Paul, the support of an aide for 10 hours a week — fewer than half the 21 hours Fairfax County had provided and said he deserved under federal law.

“They slashed his services in half and said, ‘We believe this is comparable,’ ” Driscoll said.

Pink News: HIV experts call for declassification of transgenderism as mental illness

An international meeting of experts on HIV has called for transgenderism to be reclassified as a medical condition, rather than a mental illness. […] It argues that trans people would then escape the stigma of mental illness that is frequently attached to them.

[editor’s note: Wouldn’t it be nice for there to be no stigma associated with mental illness? And for being transgender just being another way of being, with all management options accessible to people who need them, without having to wrangle verbosely about whether it’s ‘abnormal’ or not?]

[Re-edit Jan 2: This post is absolutely not an invitation to desultory debate on whether or not you think being trans really is a disability. I had thought my previous note made that clear, but apparently not.]

4 thoughts on “Recommended Reading for January 1st

  1. I’m somewhat torn on the Fialka-Feldman issue. On the one hand, I’ve done both the on- and off-campus thing at university, so I completely understand wanting the ‘full experience’ as it were–it really isn’t the same when you’re divorced from the school community by living elsewhere.

    On the other hand, he’s not a full-time student. While he’s certainly within his rights to ask to special permission to live in the dorms, I also feel it’s within the rights of the university to refuse.

    I’m also strongly of the opinion that university is largely overrated in our culture, and feel that many people who are attending universities would probably be as well if not better served by a community college (not to mention save a buttload of money).

  2. In regards to the declassification of transgenderism as a mental illness:

    I completely agree that no, being a transgendered person does not constitute mental illness. That’s not what it is; it’s a kind of gender identity, not a mental disorder. However, this quote, “It argues that trans people would then escape the stigma of mental illness that is frequently attached to them,” is a little problematic to me. While I agree that being transgendered should not be a disorder according to the DSM and ICD, I think that the idea of declassifying it to remove the “stigma” on mental illness is the wrong reason. It should be removed because describing such a gender identity as a mental illness is INCORRECT, not because mental illnesses are seen as shameful.

    Transgenderism isn’t a mental disorder, but declassifying it as such partly to “destigmatize” people who are transgendered by saying “you’re not crazy, so don’t be ashamed… it’s not like we think you’re mentally ill, because isn’t mental illness so shameful?” hurts another marginalized group by furthering the idea of “stigmatized” mental illness.

    By all means, transgenderism is not mental illness. But recognizing that while reaffirming negative ideas about mentally ill people isn’t the right way to go about correcting an incorrect definition.

  3. Thanks for the note regarding the last article. I’m transsexual and many of my family members and loved ones suffer from mental illness, as do I. I’m constantly frustrated by the lack of analysis of what it means to be “mentally ill” in debates about DSM/classification of trans-ness. In addition to the issue of stigma, activists are effectively arguing that trans people are “normal”, and should be eligible for “legitimate” medical care, unlike people with mental illness. Likewise, these activists are working on the premise that mental illness involves a cure (that is, pills to make one not trans, not autistic, or otherwise “normal”). The question these activists *should* be asking is whether mental illness requires a cure at all– the premise being that we’re individuals with the right to control our bodies and live our lives as we see fit.

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