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When People With Disabilities Judge Each Other

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Being judgmental is possibly one of the most common habits humans possess. And it’s a pretty ugly habit. Everyone who judges has probably been judged themselves at some time in their lives, and  knows how horrible it feels.

People are judged on their appearance, the clothes they wear, their piercings, their tattoos, their intelligence, their sexuality. It’s 2017 and still some people are judged because of the color of their skin.

And of course, as readers of The Mighty often know from experience, people who have disabilities, whether physical or mental, are often very harshly judged. Judged by benefit agencies when we try to make claims. Judged by doctors who might not understand our condition. Judged by pharmacies who wonder why we are prescribed certain medications. Judged by our families. Judged by strangers who think and say things like:

We use the disabled parking bay because we’re lazy. 

If we lost some weight, we’d be healthier. 

We’re addicted to our meds. 

We just fake our illness for attention. 

We don’t look disabled.

Sometimes we’re judged on how our disability makes us look or how it makes us walk or talk. Judged because we’re different. Not only judged, but laughed at and bullied, which is worse than disgusting.

People are just so cruel at times. Unkind. Hurtful.

The comments and looks leave a lasting impact. They cut deep. It’s simply not nice.

But we’re not always the innocent party… especially when it comes to public facilities.

Sometimes we’re quick to jump to conclusions and say that someone in a disabled parking spot isn’t disabled. They get out of their car and they walk. No wheelchair. No walking stick. Not even a limp. They’ve got no right parking there… how on earth did they manage to get a disabled permit? But really, that’s between them and their doctors. If they have a permit, then they have every right to park there.

And what about disabled public restrooms? You know what it’s like. You are desperate to go. There is one accessible stall. Only one. It is in use. And you need to wait and wait and wait… a nightmare, isn’t it?

Then the door opens and out walks a healthy-looking, apparently able-bodied person. Or worse still, a healthy-looking adult with a healthy-looking child.

How do you feel? Angry? Annoyed? Infuriated?

How dare healthy people use the one and only disabled stall.

But are they healthy?  How do we know by looking at them?

We are looking at them and judging them.

We should know more than anyone that appearances are deceptive. People can look healthy, but they may be far from healthy. There are a thousand reasons why a person who doesn’t look disabled needs to use that disabled toilet. The last thing that person needs is to be judged by someone. Especially by someone who knows exactly what it’s like to be judged.

Perhaps we could empathize rather than judge.

We in the disabled community know what it’s like to be judged. We don’t like it, so let’s not do it to others.

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Thinkstock photo by Eldadcarin.

Originally published: October 9, 2017
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