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Millennial Disabled Woman Ramps Her Voice: Lauren

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RYV Interview Series Graphic - Lauren

Our final interview for the millennial disabled woman series comes from a close friend of mine, Lauren.  I met Lauren on social media two years ago, and I have been amazed at how much we have in common.  Lauren has a very positive, outgoing personality that is infectious and appreciated on those days that you need a Sisterfriend.  Lauren’s take on being disabled, female, and of color was one that I had to have for this special series, and I am elated that she took the time to share her story with my readers.

Lauren, tell the RYV! readers about yourself.

Hi!  My name is Lauren, and I am 25 years old.  I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist candidate at California State University Northridge.  I was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA.

What is your disability(ies) status?  

My dis(Ability) is called a spinal cord injury, SCI for short.  My injury is a T-10 complete.   My disability was acquired at the age of 16 by a gunshot wound.

What are the misconceptions about those with your disability(ies)?

I would have to say the biggest misconception about my disability is similar to many people with physical disabilities, and that is that I am “asexual.”  That is to say that I am not able to have or enjoy sex.  Another misconception is that none of us can feel anything physically due to paralysis.  Every person with SCI is different on their abilities and what they experience on a day to day basis.  No two are alike; like snowflakes.

What stereotypes about people with disabilities do you think are most harmful to our ability to be treated as equal in society?

Where do I start?  There are are so many!  I think the most harmful stereotypes are that we are unable to enjoy life, date, love, and seek adventure as much as everyone else because we have one or a couple “deficiencies.”  Everyone on this planet has a disability of some sort.  Ours just happens to be more visible.

How do you view yourself, in terms of your disability(ies) status?

I try hard not to be defined by my disability.  I am also a woman and a Black woman at that!  I am proud of all of me.  These are the characteristics that comprise Lauren.

What is it important for PWDs to ramp their voices about their experiences, discrimination, & ableism?

It is so extremely important for everyone to share their personal stories, especially PWDs, to show others that they are not alone.  Everything that we endure has been experienced or felt by someone else, and if it hasn’t, that is all the more reason to share.  You could be that person who lets someone else know they are not alone in their experiences and/or you could dispel many of the misconceptions others have about your disability.  Who better to tell them than you!

Do you “own” your disability status?  How did you come to embrace your “perfectly imperfect” self?

Yes, I own my disability status.  I still struggle with what parts I choose to own and disown from day to day.  And I think that’s okay.  As long as you love your whole self completely.

Being a woman, disabled, and of color means that you endure challenges that others cannot fathom.  What have you learned about overcoming such obstacles?  

I have learned that I am one hell of a woman!  On days when the challenges start to get to me, I think of these obstacles stacked against me and they empower me to keep on pushing!  Literally and figuratively. lol.

If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?

You are strong.  You are beyond capable.  God’s got you.

What empowering message do you want to share with your fellow disabled sisters?

I just want to say that there is power in numbers.  What you are doing with this website and all of your efforts to include other PWDs will have a massive effect on the future and well being for all of us.  We have to stick together!  But most importantly, accept your flaws and all.  Don’t be so hard on yourself.  Give yourself some of that unconditional love you long for from others.  And make sure to count your blessings because things could be so much worse!

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(If you missed the first two interviews of this special series, check out the stories of rolling chicas Bree & Whitney.)

RYV! readers:  If you would like to connect with Lauren, you may leave a comment below, or send a message through the Contact page on the website.  All messages will be forwarded to Lauren for her to respond/connect.

About Vilissa Thompson, LMSW

Vilissa is the Founder & CEO of Ramp Your Voice!, an organization she created to establish herself as a Disability Rights Consultant & Advocate. Ramp Your Voice! is a prime example of how macro-minded Vilissa truly is, and her determination to leave a giant "tire track mark" on the world.

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