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When I Wonder If the Next President Will Care About People Like Me

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I wish people would notice something other than my blindness, but the sunglasses, the long cane, and my eyes that are always scanning and don’t follow things make it obvious. So during this election season, while everyone else worries about who will keep LGBT rights or take them away, protect borders, and so many other things, I think about issues that may not have crossed most people’s minds. Does this candidate even consider me a person, or a person who can be whatever they want to be?

At times I am doubtful. I am not just blind, but the child of a parent who raised me on her SSI check. Mental illness runs in my family. I am trans. I am not a “good investment,” in business terms; I need training to get to the point where college is even possible, and that training costs money. And as much as I want to forget it, even with training, even if I can read a hundred words per minute with Braille, I could still end up like 70% of my fellow blind men and women in this country and be unemployed. Like my mother before me, I wait for my SSI check to come in the mail, so I can pay my bills and get the things I need — something I never wanted to do.

I want whomever is President to see me, Charlie, the blind trans man, with my family history, as someone worth giving a chance to. Worth the college education, worth the training, worth making laws so I can get access to the books I need in Braille. Worth passing laws for my protection as everything I am. If I was applying for a job under them, I want to believe my resume wouldn’t end up in the trash, simply because I am blind, or trans, or quiet, or any of the things that make me, well, me.

I worry that the next president will be too busy to worry about people like myself. I worry that they will take more money from people like me, or worse people like my mother who will never have a job due to her disability. I worry because they can affect my life, and the lives of others like me in so many ways I don’t even want to think about. Do I matter?

Originally published: October 10, 2016
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