I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, and I am a dynamically disabled individual. This means that I use mobility devices as needed. Sometimes, I use my wheelchair, and other times, I seem entirely able-bodied.
I recently purchased an electric (smart) wheelchair that I used regularly for a few months while I was pregnant. My condition, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, became much worse, and I needed it anytime I had to "walk around" or wait in a line due to the extra weight on my already loose joints.
During those few months, I experienced a bizarre but common form of discrimination. On Halloween last year, I was waiting in line to get into a bar while sitting in my wheelchair. A man dressed in a white sheet (I assume as a ghost) was waving to everyone in the line.
When I was the only one who waved back, he yelled to his friends, “See? Even the disabled girl waved back!”.
My friends responded angrily by shouting “She’s not disabled, she’s just pregnant!”.
While my friends meant well, what they said was both inaccurate (as I am partially disabled) and invalidating. They thought I would take being called “disabled” as an insult when in fact I have no issue being disabled or labeled as such. That is simply fact, not opinion.
I was emotionally struck by how he said, “even this disabled girl…”, as if I were lesser-than. He didn’t address me directly either. In this short encounter both my friends and this “ghost” demonstrated discrimination, partially in seemingly harmless commentary.
A perfect example of hard-to-to spot, easy-to-misunderstand ableism.