It’s Time for Disabled People to be Unapologetically Selfish and Intolerant

Image description: plus size African American woman stands with loftsrand crutches before a black gate covered in vines. She is looking off into the distance. Photo by Lauren Green 

You heard me! Fight me. I want disabled people to be unapologetically selfish. I want you to bathe in hedonism and to move with the bravado of a mediocre man explaining to a woman her own expertise. I want to see you striving to love yourselves and in the moments you cannot, being patient with yourself, and if you can’t be patient, at least be kind. I want to see your selfies, I want to see how #DisabledandCute you are. I want to see you being sexy, vulnerable and yourselves. I want to see my Quips, my crips of color, my indigenous disabled, my hijabi disabled. I want to see you all in all your glory, your good days and your bad.

I want you to be intolerant. I want you to shut down the voices that question the necessity of your existence. I want you to block the discourse that portrays you as anything less than human. I want you to use all the four-letter words you know. Shut down the devil’s advocates and speak truth to power. How long are we expected to entertain the idea of our genocide? Be intolerant of the violence that seeks to rob you of your peace, and take self-care when you feel drained.

If you’re wondering why I’m asking you to be these things, the answer is very simple: you are a real person, not an idea or concept. The problem with throwing around terms like “Pre Existing Condition” is that it is prescriptive and turns real people into inconvenient numbers that need shuffling or rearranging. I don’t want you to delve into problematic person-first language. I want you to show what disability looks like—because it looks like you and it looks like me. It looks like the friends I’ve made writing for this site. It looks like the people I hope to collaborate with and to get to know. It looks like people I love. It looks like people I could lose. So when people ask you how healthcare affects you, I want you to respond with “I” and “we.” Let them know that the person before them is at risk, not some idea of a person.

*This post has been updated to reflect the name of the photographer, Lauren Green,  of the picture of me. 6.9.17


  1. It’s well past time for this – talk about being objectified as a stone in the road! Your words reflect my thoughts, and the photos are beyond inspiring. Thank you!

  2. Fast-paced Silicon Valley life-style my butt. I do everything slowly. Without being in a hurry. I’m selfish like that.

  3. This is awesome. Thank you! I’m a person with a disability, who lives in Canada…where the Medical Aid in Dying legislation was passed. Already, there has been a case of a young woman in Eastern Canada named Candice – who happens to have cerebral palsy and spina bifilar…who is talented painter, and a human being…whose mother was consulted about assisted suicide for her daughter, within earshot of Candice – by a doctor who said she was dying. Had she been able-bodied they simply would’ve treated the emergency conditions she was in hospital for and she’d be out in a week. Also, her mother thinks she was over medicated – her mother took her to a different hospital where she was given a different drug regimen and her health has improved to what it was years ago. Had no one been there to advocate for her I hate to think what could’ve happened…and it makes me think of those who do not have advocates when they are at their most vulnerable.

    I’d like to invite you to this site where I argue with others frequently on this subject…I have not backed down but I am up against people who really do not get the disability rights perspective at all…and because I am the only such voice there I routinely get piled on in arguments, and told that I am a terrible advocate. Some of these people are trolling – but some have become friends. I sure would love to have a friend or two there who can kick ass with her statements, as you have!

  4. Thank you for speaking up and taking a stand. I to am an advocate and it’s so encouraging to know that our disability won’t stop us from speaking out. I’ve been advocating for individuals who are challenged and trying to make them see that just because we have a disability does not mean that that’s what we are. We are a person first the disability is just something we have. So from one advocate to another keep fighting the good fight.

    From American Samoa

  5. Your writing made me simultaneously scream and cry while reading it. As a relatively newly-disabled person, I have been struggling with the pressure to make myself invisible. Thank you, thank you, thank you! 💖

    1. I am so glad you felt this way about my piece. I hope you make your voice heard and feel seen. You deserve to be.

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