I was recently asked by a person on Twitter to participate, and I responded that there wasn’t much of a point, since I am Autistic, and do not require to learn about difficulties that I myself face in communicating.
in my forays into foreign languages, I have discovered that if I speak slowly and focus on pronunciation I automatically slip into stronger therapy. And I do mean automatically. And, like, I can’t even think “okay, I’m going to talk normally now”, I actually have to intentionally try and modify various sounds to be untherapylike. . .
“I had exactly a twenty-dollar bill. It came to twenty-one and change,” Jack Brown said. “I offered him my cell phone, my wallet. I said I live right around the corner. I come in here all the time.”
He was told the inhaler with tax would cost just over $21. He was short a dollar and change.
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 mu
And it’s a bizarre experience because the person in the best position to speak about their own experiences and emotions is the person who has them. And, personally, I find the desire to go over horrible experiences with a fine tooth comb, tease them out, decide – retrospectively, calmly, objectively – on an appropriate response, (an appropriate reaction is whatever I judge to be appropriate, thank you very much) to add a whole new sickening layer to what I experienced. And then there are those demands for more details and irrelevant details and painful details, because whoever is “listening” thinks they get to decide what’s important.
If you’re on Delicious, feel free to tag entries ‘disfem’ or ‘disfeminists,’ or ‘for:feminists’ to bring them to our attention! Link recommendations can also be emailed to recreading at disabledfeminists dot com. Please note if you would like to be credited, and under what name/site.
I’ve been in hiding.
I admit it.
I’ve been shoving myself headlong into activities that keep my busy, and exhausted.
Still I always feel
This strange estrangement
Nothing here is real, nothing here is right*
“Wow! Aren’t you Supermom?”
Well, not really. It just keeps me occupied.
Just hoping no one knows
That I’ve been*
But really, I don’t have this kind of energy. To run to all these practices and game and meetings. To keep up with the chores. The volunteer events. To make meals. The group photos for people. Bringing snacks and handing out sports drinks. To pack lunches. The doctor’s appointments.
Going through the motions
Walking through the part
I have drawn it from somewhere. But I don’t always have somewhere from which to draw it. I feel like I have had to, though. Because if I didn’t I would have to think about the things that roll around in my mind.
And I just don’t want to do that.
I was always brave
And kind of righteous
Now I find I’m wavering*
It isn’t a pity party, or a call for anyone to feel sorry for me. I can’t even say it is a moment of clarity where I realize the err of my ways and that I will stop this silliness and start taking better care of myself. It’s a little late for that now that events are in full swing and people are counting on me to keep going somehow.
It’s my coping mechanism… however good or bad it may be. We all have them. Mine may just lead to more crashes, a slightly elevated pain med use (which is still well below my prescribed allowance), and periodic bouts of me crying into my pillow at night because I am too exhausted and in too much pain to sleep.
Will I stay this way forever?
Sleepwalk through my life’s endeavor?*
So I keep going through the motions.
Eventually I have to pay that proverbial piper (that jerk), but it keeps me going, in a sense, for now.
I don’t want to be…
Going through the motions
*“Going Through the Motions”, “From Once More With Feeling”, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 6
In July, a study was released discussing disabled immigrants and revealing some alarming facts about who is in immigration detention in the United States. I wrote about it here, and the numbers were pretty astounding. The study uncovered the fact that 15% of the people in immigration detention in the United States had disabilities that impaired their ability to understand immigration proceedings. They were unable to defend themselves in court and unable to understand their legal rights. Some were kept for years in detention while officials debated what to do with them.
Immigration law is one of the most tangled areas of law in the United States. The system is complex and labyrinthine and it’s extremely difficult to navigate. It’s even harder when you’ve been held in detention for weeks, months, or years and you’ve been provided with inadequate care; being in confinement is stressful, and can exacerbate mental illness for some people, making it even more challenging to make your way through the court system. The ACLU set out some immediate demands in their report to get better protections for disabled detainees; as far as I know, those demands have not been met.
The report also documented cases of US citizens with disabilities who were deported because they were the wrong colour and they were unable to defend themselves in court. Just last week, I read a followup on a case I discussed; the American Civil Liberties Union is suing on behalf of Mark Lyttle, who was deported and left to fend for himself in Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala for four months before he was able to get assistance from a US embassy. This case has been dragging on for over a year.
Lyttle is of Puerto Rican descent, but he’s lived in the United States his whole life. He only speaks English. The government knew this when they deported him:
The U.S. government admitted in April that it had wrongly deported an N.C. native, but newly released documents show that federal investigators ignored FBI records and other evidence showing that the man was a United States citizen.
At the time of Mark Lyttle’s deportation, immigration officials had criminal record checks that said he was a U.S. citizen. They had his Social Security number and the names of his parents. They had Lyttle’s own sworn statement that he had been born in Rowan County. (source)
His story started when he was briefly jailed for ‘behavioural problems’ in a home for people with mental illness. Officials referred his case to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) despite being aware that he was a US citizen. ICE detained him, investigated, denied him legal counsel, and deported him to Mexico.
As he drifted homeless and penniless through Central America, he was unable to access the medications he was taking to treat his mental illness. Unstable environments contributed to a deterioration of his mental state. He considered suicide. He was imprisoned by multiple sets of officials and deported a second time when he managed to re-enter the United States. Finally, after reaching an embassy, his family was contacted and he was brought safely back into the United States.
There are layers of problems with this case. There’s the documented issue that ICE fails to serve people with disabilities in immigration detention, making it impossible for undocumented immigrants, documented immigrants, and wrongfully detained citizens alike to make their way through immigration proceedings; it’s pretty much impossible for anyone to self-represent in immigration court, let alone someone who is disabled, isolated, frightened, and not getting adequate care. It’s clear that a better system needs to be put in place to screen people when they enter detention so they can be provided with adequate services, if we are going to be detaining people at all.
And there’s the problem, not restricted to people with disabilities, of deporting people simply because they appear to be undocumented immigrants. If you have brown skin, if you ‘look Mexican,’ whether or not you are, whether or not you have documentation, there is a potential risk of deportion. ICE raids in workplaces across the country have swept up legal immigrants along with US citizens, including some people who have never been outside the US. Despite ample documentation, these people have been deported. Because they look wrong.
Cesar Ramirez Lopez, a San Pablo truck driver, won a $10,000 settlement in 2007 after he was held for four days by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents even after his lawyer convinced ICE investigators that he was a citizen.
Rennison Castillo, a Washington state man who was born in Belize but took his oath of citizenship while serving in the U.S. Army in 1998, who spent seven months in an ICE prison in 2006. He is suing the government with the help of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project in Seattle.
Some longtime observers of the immigration agency say that, while citizens make up a tiny fraction of the roughly 400,000 people who pass through ICE custody each year, such cases occur with some regularity. The problem is exacerbated, they say, by the fact that immigration detainees, unlike those in the criminal justice system, lack the right to legal counsel and other due process protections. (source)
One of the cornerstones of the legal system in the United States is supposed to be the premise that people are innocent until proven guilty. Yet, in the case of deportation proceedings, people are…guilty until deported. Denial of basic legal rights to people in immigration detention is a travesty and a human rights violation. People are intimidated into complying with deportation proceedings:
The young man was bullied into signing a form authorizing his voluntary deportation, except that it wasn’t made clear to Delgado that by affixing his John Hancock he was okaying being shipped off to Mexico. His belief was that he would be allowed to return home in Houston if he just did as he was told. (source)
This is a problem that goes far beyond the issues with disabled detainees in particular. The current state of our immigration system is a travesty that needs to be addressed; it is a foreign policy issue, it is a human rights problem, it is a fundamental violation of everything the United States claims to stand for. Providing basic legal rights to all people in immigration detention should be an immediate priority for the United States, because this has got to stop.
I read a post at Crazy Mermaid’s Blog recently that neatly summarized some things that I have been struggling with lately.
Friends and loved ones of those with a mental illness have a hard time understanding noncompliance with medication. Why, they reason, if the drug helps control the symptoms of the mental illness, doesn’t the mentally ill person take the medication?
One of the biggest reasons for noncompliance is the side effects of the drugs. Especially for those with more severe cases, the side effects of strong doses of medication can cause horrific side effects. So horrific, in fact, that the patient makes the conscious decision to stop taking the medication to avoid those side effects. Living with the mental illness becomes more appealing than living without it.
I linked it in my most recent RR, but it hit home so well that I really had to bring it back around here for some tossing around. I have been rolling some things around in my brain on my own like a toy surprise… the kind that can eat you up… and while the particular sitch that Crazy Mermaid describes doesn’t apply specifically to me, it is relevant.
We all have, I think, things in our lives that we face that create little fissures that attempt to pull us apart from any amount of happiness we might grasp onto in our lives. Those of us in the disabled community know that this kind of stress can be especially taxing on our resources as the two sides rub together, causing the tiny quakes and aftershocks of the impending snaps of what we can handle. Sometimes the aftermath of having to live on the fault line long enough results is losses we, as people, can’t quite handle with smiles on our faces, if at all.
These things might not all be catastrophic life situations, but sometimes they are. Perhaps it is, on one side of the fault, the choice to not medicate and along with it the constant shame and scrutiny from doctors, family, friends, and basically everyone you might know (or the lack of understanding of your continued symptoms from those “anti Big Pharma” friends who think you really can have it both ways). On the other, living daily with side effects that leave you with little to no quality of life. Crazy Mermaid listed a few fairly severe ones. I know some of my medications for other-than-mental illness conditions come with their own host of side effects that I had to consider, including vomiting, vertigo, extreme fatigue, and that is just to name some pleasant ones. They can sap your will to get out of bed. You have to weigh these options carefully as the ground trembles beneath you. Often, you don’t have anything or anyone to cling to as you weigh your bleak options. What choice is it, really, sometimes?
Perhaps your choice is whether to accept a job across the country (or the world, in another country you have never even seen before) because it will provide for your immediate family. The other side of that precipice is the close-knit extended family you leave behind: grandparents and aunts and uncles who all had a hand in raising you, some of whom now could use your help as they get older. Their lives continue and you miss the daily events that used to be part of your daily life. The little things that mattered are missing from your life now as your support system is thousands of miles behind you. Their cycles of life don’t stand still because you have moved away. How do you make that choice, and what if you are a partner of someone who takes that job? Do you choose your partner or your family (and how do you choose)? Some of these answers might seems snap-crackle easy… but if you really break it down, they are many faces of the rock to look at. Do you choose financial or emotional security?
How do you make those choices? How do you survive the tremors of straddling the fissure while you weigh your options? When do the rock and hard place stop grinding against you to let you breathe for a moment so you can rest?
On September 29th, 2010, Senators Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced bipartisan legislation to establish federal minimum standards to limit the use of restraint and seclusion in schools.
The Keeping All Students Safe Act (S. 3895) is the Senate companion to H.R. 4247, passed with overwhelming support by the House of Representatives on March 3, 2010, and is a modified version of the previously-introduced Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act (S. 2860). This bipartisan bill contains strong protections against the use of restraint and seclusion in schools, as well as a number of investments in preventive techniques and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. There is still a chance this bill could passage in the lame duck session if it receives more bipartisan support.
Inappropriate seclusion and restraint are weaponised against students across the United States every day in a variety of settings. It’s time for tougher regulations on handling of disabled students, with a focus on preventing escalation of situations to the point where educators think restraint is ‘necessary.’
I am, as some readers may be aware, in the process of moving house1 which means that I am skittering about in all directions trying to do things like getting my address changed everywhere and rounding up boxes and impatiently waiting for Moving Day.
I try to do as many things online as possible, so on the off chance that the Department of Motor Vehicles would let me, I went to their website to see if I could enter an online address change. As it turns out, I could! Hooray! But what really interested me was that the DMV’s website is covered in multiple notices about accessibility. Starting right at the top of the page: The topline navigation on the DMV website is skip navigation. Implementation of skip navigation is rather spotty, so it’s really exciting to see it on a government website.
They have a section of the website discussing disability services and accommodations at DMV locations. Yes, the headline on the page includes the cringeworthy ‘the disabled,’ but it covers a lot of topics, from getting ‘terps for doing business at DMV offices to service animals. It also refers to ‘special assistance’ as opposed to just ‘assistance’ or ‘accommodations,’ but I like that the accessibility policy for DMV locations specifically avoids the trap of only discussing certain disabilities, and that it includes information about getting your business done online or over the phone, for people who do that.
There’s also a separate website accessibility policy, which includes this statement:
The Department of Motor Vehicles’ (DMV) website has been developed in compliance with California Government Code 11135, located in Section D of the California Government Code. Code 11135 requires that all electronic and information technology developed or purchased by the State of California Government is accessible to people with disabilities. There are various types of physical disabilities that impact user interaction on the web. Vision loss, hearing loss, limited manual dexterity, and cognitive disabilities are examples, with each having different means by which to access electronic information effectively. Our goal is to provide a good web experience for all visitors. (emphasis mine)
That’s right. The state government thinks that accessibility is important enough that it requires accessibility for new electronic/information technology acquired for government use. Not only that, it recognises that accessibility is complex and multifaceted, and that multiple issues must be considered when designing accessible spaces. The website accessibility policy goes on to talk about specific design features they have implemented and how to use them, and provides general tools for web browsers that could be applied beyond the DMV site. Honestly, and I never thought I would be saying this about the DMV, it’s a resource useful enough that I would probably send people to it if they were looking for tips on basic design for accessibility, and basic browser modifications to make browsing more accessible.
Let’s contrast this with the Canadian government’s decision to go to court to avoid making their websites accessible to screen readers. Now, let’s not misstate things here: The State of California is not a perfect model of Access for All and it shouldn’t be mistaken as such. But the difference between these two situations is quite a study in contrasts. On the one hand, you have a government deciding that spending funds on technology that everyone can’t access is not acceptable, and, in fact, so not acceptable that it passes a law about it. On the other hand, you have a government so fervently resistant to one accessibility issue that it wants to go to court to defend its right to deny citizens access.
One government decides, as a matter of policy, that taxpayer funds should not be spent on inaccessible equipment. Another does not. Is California perfect? Certainly not, but they’re making a good faith effort, and it’s a significant step in the right direction. It’s especially significant that the information is readily available and made as visible as possible, because it’s not just available to disabled users of the DMV website. It’s also visible to nondisabled users, and may get some of them thinking about accessibility, and perhaps reframing the way they define accessibility.
- Yes, it is very exciting! Hooray! New house! Ok, back to the original topic. ↩
Breaking Boundaries: Body Politics and the Dynamics of Difference
a Conference at Sarah Lawrence College
Bronxville, New York
March 4-5, 2011
Free and Open to the Public
Fat Activist and Author of Fat!So?
Author of The Ugly Laws: Disability in Public
When it comes to “the body,” the definition of normal is fluid and changes across cultures and time. In each context, there are those who have been exploited and oppressed because they do not fit prevailing notions of beauty. This conference will explore the body politics around those with “deviant” bodies.
This conference will address these and other questions:
What are the dominant narratives and perceptions about beauty and bodies? How do these perceptions affect public policy around issues of health, civil rights, education, and accessibility? How do those whose bodies do not fit into the “proper” cultural norms challenge attitudes, laws and perceptions? How have they negotiated for and found power in unwelcoming environments, both now and in the past? How do the categories of race, class, gender, sexuality, age and disability complicate prevailing ideas about embodiment? Are there and have there been communities and cultures that have welcomed those whose bodies are currently perceived as deviant in dominant popular discourse? And, what is the relationship between promoting and continuing the dominant discourse and capitalist consumer culture?
We invite activists, scholars and artists in all fields to propose papers, panels, workshops, performances, and exhibits. Proposals for panels are especially welcomed, but individual papers will also be considered.
Specific topics may include, but are not limited to:
Representations of deviant bodies in popular culture
Social justice and fat and disability activism
Intersectionality: race, gender, class, sexuality and the body
HAES: Health at Every Size
Feminism and the body
Social construction of disability
Objectification and commodification of the deviant body
Fiction and the deviant body
Language and the body
Deviant bodies across cultures and time
Please email a brief abstract and c.v./resume to:
Women’s History Graduate Program
Sarah Lawrence College
Bronxville, NY 10708
Deadline December, 3 2010
From the video description: Rachel is a volunteer at Science World in Vancouver. She has applied for a power wheelchair from the Equipment and Assistive Technology Initiative (EATI) to be more independent and effective at her job.
The video shows Rachel, a young white woman in a manual chair, at Science World. She’s shown going around the exhibits, helping out children who are seeing things, confirming the various exhibits are in working order, and checking out the computers around the center.
Caption: Rachel Elizabeth Roberts, Science World Volunteer
Rachel: I was in high school and I was placed here to do a work experience program, and I liked it so much that I decided to come back.
I help out with some stuff in the galleries.
I just do two galleries, “Search” and ‘Treasure”, and just talk to customers. You get to meet a lot of interesting people.
And I also make sure to check things are working properly.
It is difficult. I find I get tired from my upper arms, my arms, but it’s okay, I feel like the power chair will help me get to where I need to be faster, so I don’t waste any time. I just go straight to work.
I think it will help immensely because I get to do other things. There’s a whole world of possibilities that I haven’t even tried that I’m willing to try. Work in OMNI, maybe help the staff with stuff like scheduling and I’ll be more independent and just … just do more things, like… like… go for a walk on the sea wall, or with one of my workers, or just, you know, experience new things.
I’m really excited. I can’t wait to see what the summer has in store now that I have wheels.
Caption: B.C. Personal Supports Network Equipment & Assistive Technology Initiative (EATI)
A film by Angelina L Cantada