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To Ted Cruz on the ‘Political Correctness’ of My Celiac Disease

Dear Mr. Cruz,

I realize the campaign trail is a long and arduous journey and you are fatigued yet determined to see your campaign through to the White House. Campaigns are notorious for promises made and not carried through to fruition. I realize many things of which you speak are well intentioned, and some others may be an attempt for appeasement and the gathering of support. However, one of your recent promises really struck a chord with me, and I am writing to you in the hopes of determining  your commitment to this issue.

The Huffington Post reported that while presenting to military voters in South Carolina on February 16, you implied that you would “wipe out cases of ‘political correctness’ in order to spend resources on building a stronger military. Cases of ‘political correctness’ include equipping the military with dietary options for those who suffer from gastrointestinal disorders like celiac disease.”

This is where I am concerned. Do you truly believe people suffering from the autoimmune condition of celiac disease are doing so to be “politically correct”? Do you believe these people don’t consume gluten to be trendy? Do you recognize celiac disease as a true illness that requires patients to limit or completely restrict their consumption of gluten? If you recognize this disease and its presence, then do you believe not one member of the military suffers from this illness? An estimated one in 100 people worldwide lives with celiac disease, and a statistics teacher might tell you that inevitably some of those people serve in our military.

Do you know what happens if a person with celiac disease consumes gluten? Let me paint the reality for you. A person with celiac disease who consumes gluten can suffer from severe vomiting and diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration and in many cases hospitalization. Abdominal pain and cramping are typical as well. More serious complications can also occur, such as Type 1 diabetes, infertility, miscarriage, intestinal cancers, and neurological conditions.

As a person who lives with such a disease, I can say that while I am experiencing a flare-up of my condition, it is nearly impossible for me to be a functioning member of society. Do you think our military members can fulfill their duties while dealing with such symptoms? Do you think that by not providing a gluten-free meal option you are setting these men and women up for success? If they are forced to consume gluten as no other options would be available, it could be near impossible for these people to carry out the duties they swore to uphold.

Your statement demonstrates an ignorance of what people with such diseases face on a regular basis. My hope is you will educate yourself and realize there is far more at stake here than “political correctness.” Peoples’ lives and well-being are what will truly suffer if you follow through on this campaign promise. For more information and your own education, please visit the Celiac Disease Foundation at celiac.org.

ted cruz speaking
Ted Cruz speaking aboard the U.S.S. Yorktown.

A version of this post first appeared on Spoonie Mama.

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