I consider it to be invasive when people ask me about my disability
Most people have the privilege of hiding their struggles. Could you imagine a world where every traumatic event a person went through would be visible to others and constantly addressed by strangers in social settings?
“Oh, I am so sorry you lost your baby! How did it happen?”
“It so sad your husband left you!
Are you seeing a therapist?”
“You can’t conceive? Let me pray for you!”
“You have this illness? You are such an inspiration for not giving up!”
Disability, in many cases, is tied to trauma, loss, painful experience, etc. And even if not, it’s not the only thing a disabled person is about.
I understand that in most cases, there’s no malicious intent behind the question. Still, it’s invasive, tactless, and dehumanizing.
First, one needs to consider the fact that such questions might cause the disabled person to talk/remember/relive a traumatic event or experience. Repeatedly. In front of complete strangers.
Second, just because my “struggles” are visible to everyone doesn’t mean it’s ok to address them.
And third, it makes the disabled person feel invisible, a medical curiosity. If the first thing addressed is their disability or mobility aid, what about the person?
Ableism – sometimes unknowingly, other times deliberately expressed: I want to first define my understanding of ableism. It’s when bodies are placed on a spectrum based on their looks, abilities, and productivity. A person like me, for example:
First, I don’t look like the “norm.” This automatically makes me less attractive, less desired, unworthy, understandably single/childless. And my partner instantly becomes a hero for being with me.
Second, in order to be productive in a society that was initially built only for “normally functioning” bodies, I require “special” accommodations. This automatically makes me a burden on society, a “less than.” And, if I thrive despite the obstacles, I am viewed as an inspiration.
Being brought up in such a society without any disabled people around, these were my views. I felt sorry for the disabled, made assumptions about their lives and abilities. Although somehow, intuitively, I knew that asking invasive questions was a no-no, I never treated them as equals.
When I was first diagnosed with Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy, I believed my life was over. My family did as well. I believed that no one will ever want this broken version of me. I believed it to the point that to avoid heartache, I sabotaged every potential relationship. That’s one example of internalized ableism.
Travel and my appreciation of nature: I have been traveling for two decades, in Israel and around the world. Since 2018, I started traveling in a wheelchair and only made it to three countries before the pandemic began. Since my Instagram page exits only two years, most of my latest travel posts are from Israel. If I had to choose one place, it would be Jerusalem’s old town. Although not very accessible, so very special!
Israel as an accessible country: For a tourist, Israel is mostly accessible. There are quite a few accessible transportation options (taxis, trains, city buses). Most National Parks and Nature Reserves were made accessible along with beaches, museums, tourist attractions, and hotels.
For someone who lives here, it’s a different story. Along with some positives such as equal healthcare and partial mobility aids funding, there’s still much work to be done. But we’re moving in the right direction.
Follow Tali on Instagram: @rollwithasmileblog