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There Is No Such Thing As Transcending Disability

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Transcending Disability 1

I was having a conversation with a fellow advocate/disabled Sistagirl about a response they received from a member of our community who did not understand why they would embrace their disabled identity.  This person shared that they had “moved beyond” their disability; that mentality struck a nerve with Sistagirl, and the wheels started turning in my head.

I thought about what my response would be to that person or anyone who came to me with similar sentiments, and the following piece was birthed.  

* * *

I have not, and will never, transcend disability.  

I am disabled.  I was disabled in the womb, and was born disabled.  

Being disabled is an important part of my identity and human experience as being Black, a woman, American, heteosexual, and cisgender.  

I can never transcend disability because there is nothing to transcend from.  

To “transcend” means to “be or go beyond the range or limits of (something abstract).

I cannot transcend disability; instead I can transcend from the ableism, discrimination, and stereotypes that are associated with being disabled.  

I transcend the ignorance that is associated with my disabled body, about what I can and cannot do physically.  

I transcend against discrimination by educating myself on my rights, and demanding that they are adhered to when someone tries to violate my ability to be included fully.  

I transcend the erasure of the Black disabled experience by stating that #DisabilityTooWhite is a travesty that must be eradicated.  

I transcend the misbelief that disabled people are here for inspirational purposes by proclaiming that my life is not to be pitied, and to give the middle finger to those who think that my “place” in life is to appease non-disabled people.  

I have not transcended from my disabilities – my way of life is nothing to be ashamed of, or to be downcasted as a tragedy.  

It is one thing to get these “transcendence” ideals from non-disabled people; it is quite another to get them from fellow disabled members.  

To force your transcendence onto me is projecting your internalized ableism towards someone who has transcended from it.  I do not want your toxicity – I have worked hard to love my disabled body and life to not regress to a time when I did not.  

If you feel that you have “transcended” disability, then good for you; however, do not force me or others to say or feel the same.  I proudly embrace my disability identity, and will be damned if you, disabled or not, tell me that that sense of pride is wrong.  

I do not transcend disability – I steadfastly confront the bullshit that society has tried to tell me about who I am because I am disabled.  

I have not transcended; I have elevated my understanding about my existence to a level where I love myself unapologetically, a self-love that shatters every misconception and ignorant perception of what being disabled is and is not.

Boldly disabled and unashamed – yep, that is me.  

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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