“I don’t like being referred to as ‘the wheelchair.'”

I said it calmly and as ‘matter of fact’ as I possibility could. After being in a wheelchair for over a decade some of the emotion has drained out of my protests, which in some cases is a really good thing. I just want people to know that I object to how I’m being, pick one, ignored, passed over, stared at, invisibilized, or experiencing anti-anthropomorphization (taking human characteristics out of a human being or an organization run by humans).

While I have learned to speak calmly about these kinds of incidents, the reaction is rarely calm. I find that instead of a simple, ‘Oh, you’re right, I’m sorry,’ I am mostly told that I am wrong, that I didn’t hear right, or, the most common, “THAT’S NOT WHAT I MEANT.” It angers people to be asked to speak respectfully to me as a disabled person.

Really angers them, or most of them at least.

I’m not sure why they react so strongly. Part of it is, I believe, that they see me immediately as ‘uppity’ and their natural assumption of a hierarchy wherein they get to speak of me however they wish but I do not get to challenge them in any way.

In this instance she stated that she was referring to my wheelchair, not me, which oddly was my point, and then she began directing us to go where we needed to go.Her face showed fury and she struggled to remain calm.

It’s a small incident, hardly worth notice, but I wanted to write about it because it’s these small interchanges, these little conflicts, which happen almost daily, wherein I think I’m right at the forefront of social change. I believe all of us who are different or disabled, every time we go out, every time we expect respect, make a difference.

Sometimes ‘resistance’ is a tiny act of assertion or a small ask for respect.

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