Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Sexual, romantic and gender identities for disabled people

[TW: brief discussions of sexual assault and abuse of disabled people]
I. Personal Brief on the Matter of Gender, Sexuality, Romantic Orientation

I’ll start this off by first saying what people need to know: sexuality, gender identity, and romantic orientations are not all the same. Of the three, sexuality and romantic identity are often conflated, but may not always match.

I’ll also give a brief on myself. I’m pretty sure I’m demiromantic and demisexual for all gender identities. Any crush that I’ve had on a person without an emotional connection is an infatuation, one that I never even want to act on, ever. Any romantic interest, however, sprang up after friendship or feeling a strong emotional connection, even if we weren’t actually quite friends. Any sexual interest has come about the same way. It’s happened with cisgender men, cisgender women, and nonbinary people (including those who identify as androgyne, agender, neutrois, etc.) so far.
It’s been confusing in a society where people have sex without emotional connections all the time, so sometimes I kept assuming I would be like that too. I’m not. In other news, at least the “not straight” label I’ve realized since I was 17. I’ve been developing my concepts of sexuality, romantic identity, and gender identity since then, introspecting each time I learned something new. At 21, I identity as as demiromantic and demisexual toward all gender identities, and nonbinary and agender.

II. Fights for sexual and romantic orientation equality, gender identity equality are also disability rights.

It’s a multi-pronged issue, where
  • Disabled people are often not educated about gender, sexuality, sexual activity, and romantic orientation because it is assumed they will not understand it, need it, or ever experience anything;
  • Disabled people are often told their body is not their own, anyway;
  • Disabled people are often put in situations where it is harder for them to escape sexual abuse and abuse in general because of mobility issues (harder to physically leave), stigma against them (people do not believe them, or the perpetrator receives pity for bothering to interact with disabled person), internalized beliefs that their bodies are not their own, people not understanding their communication of the matter, being gaslighted into believing they are the problem, and other reasons;
  • Disabled people are encouraged to not have relationships where children could occur;
  • Disabled people are often used as scapegoats by the pro-choice movement, and often leaves out disabled people in accessibility and discussions. While the pro-choice movement is one I support, I am also disabled, and we should not be thrown under the bus.
  • Disabled people are often multiply marginalized through sexuality, gender identity, romantic orientation, and other intersections;
  • Other people are told by society that disabled people are undesirable.
My mother did not assume that I would be automatically be devoid of a sex life and dating life in the future and spoke to me about various things relating to sex-education when I was a teenager. Her assumptions weren’t based on that people with asexuality don’t exist, it was more of the fact that just because I was autistic didn’t mean I wouldn’t ever. And aromantic and asexual people can have sex, also. I am fortunate, I suppose, that thus far no one has ever tried to be like “but you’re developmentally disabled, you can’t have a different sexuality/romantic orientation/gender identity!”

Which is a thing that happens to people with disabilities. It’s much more common for people with mental illnesses related to psychosis, however, to get thrown under the bus in the regard of gender identities. The lack of representation for them is concerning on several levels; people with depression and anxiety, though still stigmatized against, are considered more “mainstream” and “common”.
When people think of mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, you think chronic sadness and being worried (though it’s more complex than that), and when people think of ones related to psychosis, they think horror movies or someone being tied down in a mental hospital.

Consequently, the idea that these people date, have sex, have gender identities and sexualities and romantic orientations can shock people. Gender identities by these people are often questioned, and they may be told that it is invalid because they’re “so mentally ill” and must not not be able to figure out the difference between their bodies in reality and their mental state.

Disabled people also are assumed to be aromantic or asexual. When people say such things to you and you are not, just say, “Well, I’m not, but some of us are.” Aromantic and asexual are not bad words. Yes, the trope exists that we do not date, have sex, kiss, or experience attraction on romantic and sexual levels, but some of us do and some of us don’t, and neither one of those is due to the disability. It’s okay to say that you’re not if you’re not, but don’t do it in a way that harms another community.

Disabled people, especially women, are also victims of sexual assault. The Utah State University’s page on Sexual Assault and Anti-Violence Information has information on “Interpersonal Violence and Persons with Disabilities;” these stats include:
  • Among adults who are developmentally disabled, as many as 83% of the females and 32% of the males are the victims of sexual assault.
  • For individuals with psychiatric disabilities, the rate of violent criminal victimization including sexual assault was 2 times greater than in the general population (8.2% vs. 3.1%).
  • It has been estimated that 83% of women with a disability will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.
III. Conclusion

It’s about time disabled people got included and remembered in dialogues, narratives, and discourses about gender identity, sexuality, romantic orientation, sexual abuse, reproductive issues other feminist issues, because we’re here. Disabled people have been raising their voices about it now for a while, from the pending non-profit Queerability to people writing articles for the Huffington Post, to individual people writing their stories.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Response to Tumblr Ask on 9-12-14


Do you oppose research for cure for autism? Or do you prefer to see kids being dysfunctional and unable to communicate?

— Asked by Anonymous

What is, exactly, your idea of functional? “Functioning” is a very, very arbitrary word that has been used to dehumanize us (and other disabled people) since its creation. Is this a quality of life judgment, where you’re going to tell us how much we suffer and that our lives must not be worth living if we’re Autistic, so cure us?

What is, exactly, your idea of communication? Because verbal speech is too emphasized in this society. It’s not the only way. Behavior is communication. I know people who have entire conversations without talking or typing.

Do you support the idea of curing children who haven’t had a chance to even figure out what their neurology even is, who may not have had a chance to escape the toxicity of the world around them that tells them their neurology is wrong to the point where they don’t know how to think otherwise?

Do you oppose the voices of Autistic people (those of us who talk with spoken words, those of us who don’t, the ones you say who wouldn’t be able to communicate, but are communicating right in front of you, via typing, text to speech, AAC, and behavior)?

Your ask is incredibly dehumanizing. Real question: Do you oppose us being humanized?

(Short answer: Yes, I oppose cure research.)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

An Open Letter to Journalists, Bloggers, and People: A Violent Narrative

Autistic people and other disabled people are victims both of violence and of the myth-perpetuating articles and posts that crop up every time one of us is killed or abused.

It’s about “not enough services.”

It’s that the disabled person was “violent.”

The disabled person was “burdensome.”

The disabled person was [tw: murder of Nancy Fitzmaurice] “suffering too much to live.”

I am always disturbed by the ways in which the abuse and murders are justified. I want to read articles without being unsurprised by the fact that we have, yet again, been called burdens. I want to be able to read articles and be surprised if that happens, to have it not be the norm.

The deaths of the disabled have never been about us. Even in death, we are rejected sympathy and mourning. We (activists) should not have to spend all our energy trying to convince people that our lives are, in fact, worth as much as the non-disabled lives and defending our dead and abused. We should be able to spend our energy on just making disabled lives better, on helping each other through life, regardless of whatever we do in the traditional, societal sense of productivity.

My friend wrote that:
“London McCabe was a wanted child.
If you are a blogger or journalist telling the story, know that much.  Get that right.  Even if no one in his biological family wanted this boy, the autistic community did.  We wanted to enjoy sharing life and our affection with him. We wanted to help him grow into the best and happiest person he could be and have a wonderful life…”
The stories do not focus on this.

The stories that say [tw: ableism] “Oregon autism death raises awareness of how to help overwhelmed families” are what happen. The stories say that being overwhelmed makes it more acceptable to kill disabled people; the stories say that if we don’t get more services for these families, the children are at risk. And they are, but not because they deserve it or are “burdensome,” but because people buy into the fact that our “burdensome” existence can in fact justify the abuse, deaths and murders.

With every contribution to the narrative that lack of services make it acceptable, with every post that forces us to defend the dead we are trying to mourn, with every excuse thrown out to try and downplay what would be a horrific act if done to a non-disabled person, [tw: list of murdered disabled people] the disability community is put more and more at risk.

We are asking for your acceptance. We have your awareness of how “burdensome” we must be. Change the narrative into one not of awareness, but of acceptance of us as people.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Helping Each Other Cope

Helping Each Other Cope

I feel like we also need to talk about what else we can do when this happens, when we lose Autistic or other disabled people to violence, besides just talking about it and writing about it and letting everyone know what happened and that it is not okay and we should all mourn the loss.

We should do all of those things, but as I’m seeing many, many posts about what happened, I’m seeing little about what we can do to help each other cope.

I had a bad day yesterday. I do not usually post about bad days publicly. But it was a bad day; I was upset about London McCabe, to the point of blanking out and having severe anxiety and alternating between anger and feeling extremely sad and distressed. Today was better, but I have some things to work through, and am taking necessary steps to help address it.

These events remind us of our own mortality, and of the fact that people think that it can be excusable, and of the fact that we lost someone at all who deserved to live regardless of what they could have done by traditional measures. I am pretty sure none of us actively forget about these things, but when it happens, the aftermath can bring those reminders to intense, almost or actually unbearable levels.

I will be trying to work on ways to help us cope in these aftermaths, perhaps a group area online, a large master post of resources, a list of people who are willing to talk to someone about their feelings. These ideas will have to be finessed and worked on, of course. Any other suggestions will be welcome. Comment here, message at k-pagination on Tumblr, or email me if
  • you have suggestions for masterposts I can compile
  • suggestions for a group forum that would be manageable and not out of control
  • feel like you would be able to provide support for people via Skype or other forms of instant message, including Facebook.
—— (This would mean your information in these regards would  have to be available for those who ask. Potentially, I feel, I would have a list and then message the people on the list to see how they are feeling/if they are able to talk to someone, so the information wouldn’t just be everywhere on the internet.) ——
  • You know of any open, free and accessible counseling places available physically or online that have actively demonstrated they are not ableist, sexist, racist, queerphobic, transphobic, bigoted, etc. and that they would not undermine the purpose/identity of the person seeking assistance and counseling.
You can also email me at silverbrook.aka.silva@gmail.com or message me at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Paginated-Thoughts/742852935779780

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Only Victim

The Only Victim (originally posted on Tumblr)

When I saw the news trending on Facebook, my heart sank. Another dead - murdered - child by their parent(s). My first thought upon seeing the news of another murdered child was “were they disabled?”

I read on. London McCabe was Autistic; and my worst fears confirmed: another person to mourn on March 1st, 2015, at our annual Day of Mourning.

He is the only victim here, even as I wait for people to proclaim his mother a martyr mom. It is awful to have a dead child in any situation, but the difference is that when the child was not disabled, everyone thinks it’s awful. When the child, like London, was disabled, many rush to make excuses as to why it happened, when there are none.


London McCabe, 6 years old, Autistic, thrown off a bridge to drown in Oregon. This is why we don’t need your awareness. This is why when you talk about awareness, we cringe. This is how the awareness works: everyone “knows” what autism is, everyone “knows” it’s some scary thing that makes parents’ life “battle-fatigued” and our murder “justified.”

This is why we need you to listen. This is why we need your acceptance.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Murphy Bill Has Gained Support of NAMI-NYS

 This is not a good thing, by the way. 

[TW/CW: Ableism, shooting, institutionalization]

From MindFreedom International on Facebook:

"On Friday evening, November 14 at 6:00 p.m., the NAMI-NYS membership will “stand united” in presenting the 2014 NAMI-NYS Legislative Champion Award to Congressman Tim Murphy, for authoring H.R. 3717 called, The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act."

I will post a transcription of the Autistic Self Advocacy's document on the Murphy Bill, along with an image of the document below, and I urge to you write/call to your Congresspeople against this, and spread the word.

"Why Your Member of Congress Should Oppose HR. 3717 
After the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) introduced HR. 5717, legislation designed to take advantage of media associations inaccurately linking mental health and violent crime to rollback civil rights protections of people with psychiatric disabilities. It is intended to completely change the current state of mental health services to make it easier to forcibly treat people with psychiatric disabilities, expand institutionalization and reduce privacy rights and legal protections. Here are some talking points you can use when speaking with your congressional offices about why they should oppose HR. 3717:
The bill would reduce privacy protections for both people with mental illnesses and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The bill allows disclosure of confidential psychological and psychiatric information to family and caregivers in additional circumstances to those already defined in current privacy laws. Right now, doctors and therapists can give confidential health and mental health information to family and caregivers in emergency situations or if they have permission from the person getting treatment. The bill would allow doctors and therapists to give confidential health and mental health information to family and caregivers even without permission and without emergency circumstances.
The bill also allows for greater influence from family and caregivers, including forcing involuntary medication and institutionalization.
The bill will provide federal government funding for more institutionalization. This will mean less money is available for other community-based services. The bill will also cut the budget for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s community integration projects to a little over a third of what it is now.
The bill would also require all states to create programs that allow judges to order people to take psychiatric medications that they do not want to take. The best way to help people get mental health treatment is to make it available and give people support, not to get the courts involved.
Legal Protections
The bill takes away many legal protections available to people with mental illnesses through the Protection and Advocacy program, which is the largest and most accessible program for legal services for people with disabilities. Over 80% of the funds for Protection and Advocacy for people with psychiatric disabilities would be taken away.
The bill establishes an unnecessary assistant secretary position to oversee the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration which would be financially supported by a portion of the budget allocated to supports for people with mental illnesses.”

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Autistic Pride and What you Need to Know

[TW: Includes links to the abuse of Autistic people and violence against them, as well as "quiet hands" and seclusion.]
Autistics Speaking

Our methods of communication may not be what you are accustomed to. Sometimes we use assistive technology or just flapping intermingled with words to get the point across. But we all have things to say. Listen.


We can be proud and often are. We are proud of our neurodivergent brains. And have you ever seen a room of Autistic people flapplauding happily? Have you ever seen the joy we feel when stimming, which isn't just a negative response? Or just the pride in our ways of thinking and doing.

Being Autistic can be hard. Being Autistic can lead to more challenges in the world, but so many of those are based in a society which values spoken/verbal communication and an education system which views it as a compilation of deficits.

More importantly, autism is not something you can change about a person, or something you can cure; it is part of our neurology, hardwired into our brains, so why not be proud?

Also, have you ever seen someone's face light up when they get on their special subject? The way they communicate and move and they are the expert and they want to share? It's beautiful. I can tell you everything about cats, I can explain to you my dragons on Flight Rising, or describe every aspect of eugenic history: I can recite eugenics books in my sleep (almost), name top eugenicists, describe the way they described people, tell you what state passed the first sterilization law and when, who first came up with eugenics in the U.K. and that he was a cousin of Charles Darwin, inform you of how it made its way to Nazi Germany and that American eugenicist Harry Laughlin was later honored by Heidelberg University and he accepted it with pride.

Nightmares: Open Your Eyes to the Things that Happen

People have nightmares all the time. Being locked up in rooms, not knowing how to get out or when they ever will. Violent nightmares where they're at the hands of someone who wants to do them harm. A lot of us live these nightmares in seclusion rooms. We get punished for flapping or making a noise or dropping a pencil or moving in the wrong way or if we argue with someone we get put in a room, locked in. These things happen where we're supposed to be safe, places like schools, places where we're supposed to be able to get an education.

Some of us are afraid, not so much from random strangers on the street but from the people who claim to love us. Some of us are the victims of violence and abuse that's either called self-defense or therapy, like Issy Stapleton, whose mother called her violent and tried to kill her. Some of us don't make it out alive, like Alex Spourdalakis, drugged and stabbed to death. These things happen when we're supposed to be safe, places like our homes, places where we're supposed to be loved and supported.

Most people can wake up from nightmares, but some of us can't. We hold a vigil every year for the victims of violence. We unite to try and put an end to these things.

A Guidebook for the Non-Autistic: Things You Need to Recognize
  • Presumption of competence, believing in our ability to learn and understand, will bring us farther than any abusive therapies.
  • We are marginalized, but we're still here and we will not be quiet; listen to us about things that concern us.
  • Behavior is communication; do not assume behaviors have no reasons behind them, and do your best to understand.
  • The same goes for watching us in public; we may look weird and different to you, but we have reasons and should not be shunned.
  • Representation in the media is not accurate.
  • We can provide valuable information on our disability and autism, and you should listen.
  • The value of our lives are not less regardless of the level of support we need. We have the same rights to life, love, education, jobs, and living conditions as anyone else.
  • Listen.
Kit Mead
Autistics Speaking Day 2014

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Problem Isn't "Infighting"

Recently, I posted “Polarization” and “When You're Not Loud and Angry Enough” on here, and on Tumblr. Discussions have sprung up, and I hope they continue, because the way the Autistic community treats other members of the community needs a fair amount of addressing. The discussions that have been started on Tumblr following those posts are not “in-fighting,” as I've seen the discussions called. I'm going to get more specific here and less jargon-filled than those posts and also add on extended commentary to reactions I've seen to the posts.

There are no such thing as good Autistics and bad Autistics, to be explicit. If good Autistic people are accused of sucking up to NTs and non-autistics and bad Autistic people are the heroes who actually call out people, how on earth do you expect solidarity within a community when people are trying to strike a divide? I know people who, on Facebook, Tumblr, elsewhere, who have been told that they are just goody-goodies and that they have no place in activism. It could have been me.

When you talk about a community, you take into account everyone. The people who feel guilt because they pass as neurotypical, the people who don't take pride in being Autistic, the people who maybe even want a cure, the people who feel guilty because they don't always have the capability of fighting every battle, the people who need accommodations, the people who need support staff, the people who need neither, and the list goes on.

You take into account the people who disagree with you.

The original posts were never about allies, and I did write it as a semi-response to the TPGA debacle – but not from the perspective of ally worthiness. I see people taking it that way anyway. The posts were about that there is often no room for disagreement in this discourse, and more importantly, that the way people are treated (like me, and others) when we disagree, people yell at us.

I should not have to constantly remove myself from Autistic spaces because people are being abusive with their language and treatment of other people, Autistic or neurotypical, to be clear. This is not tone-policing, as someone told me it was. It is not tone-policing to request a stop to the endless barrage of explosions and abusive language. And abusive language doesn't even have to be in all capital letters, to be honest: it comes in the form of “you disagree with me, so here's why you should screw off.”

The problem isn't the “infighting.” The problem is the continued mantra that asking people to stop being flat out mean and abusive is silencing, but yelling and intimidation are not silencing, and if you say they are, you are tone-policing.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

When You're Not "Loud and Angry Enough"

We clearly need to figure something out, as a community. When the Autistic community has scared a good amount of Autistic people into not being able to say things, what has it become? I was one of them, for a while. I’m not going into direct confrontations on Facebook (I don’t have spoons to deal with the arguing that would happen), but I’m writing this post.

The goal of a community is to not echo-chamber itself into only allowing certain ideas and viewpoints into it, which, frankly, has been a lot of what I’m seeing. People are attracted to the ideal that explosive, sometimes abusive behavior is okay when you’re part of an oppressed group. We as a community have dealt with a lot of pain. We’ve lost a lot of children, teenagers and adults to caretakers, and we’ve been abused in the name of therapy. I would not deny this community anger at things that have been done and are still being done.

The echo-chambering I’m seeing, though, is that if you’re not loud and angry and constantly scouring the bits of the Internet to confront and call out people, you are too polite and constantly want to make nice. The echo-chambering I’m seeing is permitting the silencing of some Autistic people through fear while saying that you’re being silenced when someone has a different opinion than you or wants you to stop yelling.

The dynamics of a community, the fabric of its being, does not rely on explosive techniques. The explosiveness I can no longer be quiet about drives potential allies and newly diagnosed Autistic people away as an unsafe space, and more importantly, many Autistic people may look at this community and wonder what is getting done, wonder if they even want to be part of it, and credibility is damaged. And what will we tell the people who aren’t privy to our conversations and are not able to join in, who may rely on us to help enact change in the community and society? What then?

Monday, October 13, 2014


I am sometimes afraid of “Autistic spaces.” I get afraid of the fact that hey, if I don’t like the fact that people are yelling about things because I have trauma in my past related to intense anger/yelling/emotional abuse… I’ll be told I’m tone-policing, that I’m a goody-goody with the neurotypicals and non-autistics.

“If you don’t like our anger, just leave, if you don’t like our anger, you’re trying to silence us.”

I am not trying to silence anyone.

There is a difference between explosive anger and righteous anger.

There is a difference between calling someone out and completely lambasting them into the next century with an explosion.

I’m trying to navigate a world of activism where if I disagree with someone, I might get yelled at – by other Autistics, of all people. I’m trying to tread a line between telling someone to stop triggering me and tone policing.

You can’t claim to want a safe space for Autistic people, then summarily explode at other Autistics who disagree with you because yes, we have other opinions, and no, it’s not because we just want to suck up to neurotypicals and non-autistics. Sometimes we have other methods of activism that still include calling people out.

It has a polarizing effect on the community. When people accuse us, the less angry-sounding, of being textbooks for neurotypicals, have you considered: maybe we don’t always have the energy to fight every battle? Maybe we don’t have the energy to yell and scream? Maybe we also don’t feel like triggering other people with explosive language?

I should not feel unsafe in Autistic and autism community spaces both from neurotypicals/non-autistics and other Autistic people.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Maybe, in Poetry... Reflections on My Autistic Pride Poetry

TW: Abuse, murder, electric shock mention, links to things on "quiet hands"

I successfully read my poems, "Writing out Infinity: Autistic Pride" and (tw: ableism, violence, murder mentions) "Power Structures" at the 100 Thousand Poets for Change event on Saturday, September 27.

 I received an email later telling me that my poems had touched their heart. It made the fear of standing up in front of people with that microphone, staring at the papers in my hands, trying to put conviction in my voice because I am the authority standing up there on the stage and I know being Autistic is not shameful and I know all the things that have been done to us, worth it. 

I wasn't sure they would understand what I meant by neurodiversity or by infinity, or or the description of stims. I wasn't sure people would understand what I meant by people being afraid to move their hands, or people being afraid to be Autistic in a world that sympathizes with our abusers and murderers, and the innumerable counts of abuse done to us through electric shock and aversive therapies and forced normalization and telling people they can't move their hands and they cut our vocal cords because we scream too much. 

Maybe, in poetry, the graphic or specific details don't need to always be there. Maybe, in poetry, the conviction with which you say it will tell them it's true, will tell them they should look into it, will tell them to presume competence and believe me and tell them that we are not suffering burdens 

--and that we can love ourselves just as much as any non-disabled person. 


Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Right to Representation

This buzzfeed article on "Parenthood" and autism (the spark behind this post) uses really problematic language, like 'battling' autism. Most Autistic people I know, including myself, don't battle against it- we accept, embrace, and celebrate our neurotypes. Sometimes it is not a picnic, but no one's life is a picnic, and we don't have to like every aspect of our disability in order to embrace it and be proud.

It quotes no actually Autistic people and uses a quote from Autism Speaks, an organization that most Autistic people stand against for its propagation of myths such as Autistic people are broken, diseased, require normalization through methods such as ABA, and need a cure. It also uses person-first language (“with autism”) rather than identity-first language (“Autistic”).

I may be rehashing what people have said over and over again in numerous posts about representation in popular culture and about including our voices in articles and policies written about us. In no way am I, however, beating a dead horse. If I was beating a dead horse, there would be ideal representation, inclusion, and more listening to us (and even then, it might not be a dead horse because there would still be people trying to drag us back down).

There's the thing where they write articles on us without talking to us. People gladly assume we do not like being disabled, or that we cannot communicate about being disabled. Sometimes, perhaps, they do know, and just decide to talk for us anyway. We deserve to be included; we have thoughts. Traditional manners of communication may not work for us, but we still have opinions. We all have the right to be a self-advocate and be heard.

Then there are films by disabled people about disability, but people seem to jump for the sensationalized, dramatized, and either tragic or magically-cured stories. This is why, for instance, the Kansas City chapter of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network created a petition for Netflix to include films about disability and chronic illness by actually disabled and chronically ill creators. They compiled a list of films by disabled and/or chronically ill creators here.

We shouldn't have to make petitions about better representation, but we do, unfortunately. A lot of showrunners will deny their character is even Autistic because the character either “functions too well,” or they didn't mean to write the character that way, or they don't want the stigma of having an autistic character on the show. It's often a combination of them. Disability in general also doesn't fare so well. Disabled characters are often played by able-bodied actors, which leaves them able to 'stand up' or go off at the end of the show or film. Often we're depicted as either violent or savant. Often we get cured, get killed, or die in some fashion.

These depictions lend themselves to stigma in multiple ways. People can be afraid of us because we're not making eye contact or doing “strange” hand gestures or pacing. People expect us to be savants when most of us are not – giving the idea that we're only worth something if we have some miraculous skill someplace “despite” the disability. Cures imply we need them. Our deaths imply that death is a fate kinder than disability.

This is not just an issue that affects disability; it is intersectional and should be treated as such by all marginalized groups. We are one of a marginalized people and culture. Queer people, trans people, PoC, women, religious minorities and other groups also have a lot to work for in the field of representation. We should just make a collaborative series of films between disabled people, trans people, queer people, women, PoC, and as many religious minority groups as possible, and other groups too... because we all have a right to representation.

(also posted on Tumblr)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Eugenics and Disabled Parents' Rights

I am very concerned by Robyn Powell's words: "there appears to be a growing trend toward sterilizing people with intellectual or psychiatric disabilities."
there appears to be a growing trend toward sterilizing people with intellectual or psychiatric disabilities.  - See more at: http://healthlawreporter.bbablogs.org/2014/09/06/delivery-room-courtroom-ensuring-rights-parents-disabilities/#sthash.XFS4fKJz.Dcxu0uAb.dpuf

I am going to block quote a post I wrote in July:

Robyn Powell, Attorney Advisor at the National Council on Disability, writes in Can Parents Lose Custody Simply Because They Are Disabled?” that "removal rates where parents have a psychiatric disability have been found to be as high as 70 percent to 80 percent; where the parent has an intellectual disability, 40 percent to 80 percent." In addition, she writes, “parents who are deaf or blind report extremely high rates of child removal and loss of parental rights.”

We are no longer in the 1920s and 1930s, and the ingrained ableism still persists into the modern day. The statistics listed by Powell, and the countless cases in which children are removed from parents with disabilities, says among other things that:
  • The disabled are not fit to bear children, nor raise them.
  • People with disabilities should not have the same rights as non-disabled parents, because they are inherently less.
  • Children need to be protected and raised away from people with disabilities.
Some people may protest, once the concept of eugenics is explained to them, that they’re not like that. They don’t support things like that. Yet by either failing to act in defense of, or supporting the removal of children from parents with disabilities, they are playing into the very legacy of eugenics.

Eugenics has been around too long. It needs to stop. Eugenic-based legal aspects are one of the policies that violate a human's rights so deeply that I find eugenicists unforgivable. I will fight eugenic policies til the day I die. And hopefully I can write things that people can keep fighting with after I’m gone.

Dear Issy

Dear Issy,

I want to tell you that the world isn't as harsh as it always seems, but I don't know how that would go over, since your mother did something so unbearably cruel and inexcusable to you. You are 14 and already you have suffered an unforgivable amount of abuse.

You are Autistic. In some people's minds, that is justification enough to make you a target. But it is not your fault. You are not the aggressor or abuser.

You are Autistic, and the Autistic community stands with you. By being Autistic, you have been accepted into our community. Remember that being Autistic is something that holds no shame, regardless of what people do to you. Preserve yourself at all costs, because you will never not be Autistic.

On a personal level, I hope you are recovering from what happened. I hope you can go someplace safe and heal and grow up. I hope we can hear you communicate your story. We will listen.



Tuesday, September 9, 2014

We had to pick a topic for our Speech class

and we have to present a two minute thing on the topic we have chosen. Of course I picked this:


A History of Autistic Self-Advocacy to Now
  • Context: Domination of Parent-Based Advocacy and its roots
  • Roughly when did the self-advocacy movement begin after years of being dominated by parent-based advocacy?
  • What struggles did they face?
  • What struggles do we still face?
  • When did the movement, along with the neurodiversity movement, “come of age?”
  • How has it evolved into its modern form?
  • The Modern Platforms
Reasons for selecting topic

I am an Autistic self-advocate and activist. I believe in promoting the acceptance of disability, abstaining from the attempted normalization “treatments” forced upon many of us, including us on decisions that involve us (and not just as token representation), presuming competence of disabled people, and supporting fellow disabled people.

Why it should matter to everyone

The rights of Autistics and of the disabled in general are harder to attain because of ingrained discrimination in society. People fail to include us in policy-making, advocacy, and in our own lives. Organizations like Autism Speaks would try to speak for us and try to force us into normalization or cure when the majority of us oppose such treatments and cure research. We are human; we have autonomy. As people, and as the marginalized, our rights are civil rights. As the old adage of the disability rights movement goes, Nothing About us Without Us!

My sources will include
  • Books written by early researchers of autism, such as Bruno Bettelheim (to provide context for the birth of the parent-based advocacy movement).
  • Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking edited by Julia Bascom: a recent anthology published in 2012 by Autistic people on their experiences, advocacy work, the discrimination against Autistic and other disabled people, and our history.
  • Posts written by parent-based advocates and the website “charity” Autism Speaks who tend to oppose the idea of Autistic self-autonomy and try to force their children into normalization.
  • Web archives from prominent first self-advocates such as Jim Sinclair (author of "Don't Mourn for Us" and "Why I do not like person-first language," and founder of Autism Network International) and Mel Baggs, especially in the 1990s
  • Current posts from Autistic self-advocates around the web, including myself
  • The Autistic Self Advocacy Network's webpage and their updates (ASAN is a self-advocacy based nonprofit based out of Washington, D.C., run by Autistics for Autistics)
  • Notes I took during my Autism Campus Inclusion program in Washington D.C., sponsored by ASAN, which took fifteen Autistic college students to D.C. with various speakers and sessions to learn about history, advocacy, and action, including people such as the Executive Director for The National Council on Disability.
 ... is that enough