Posted 2 days ago

ASAN Praises Queerability and Campus Pride for Creating Resource on Disability Rights Activism for Student Leaders | Autistic Self Advocacy Network

Thank you, ASAN!

Posted 2 days ago

Queerability Statement About Jane Doe in Connecticut

Queerability, a leading LGBTQ and disability rights advocacy organization run by and for LGBTQ people with disabilities, expresses our profound concern about the Jane Doe case in Connecticut. Jane Doe is a transgender teenage girl with a psychiatric disability who has been moved from a psychiatric treatment facility to a juvenile detention center for boys in solitary confinement without trial due to violent behavior. The forced institutionalization of Jane Doe is incongruent with the Olmstead vs. L.C decision.

We urge the Department of Justice to take action and conduct an investigation. We also call on other LGBTQ and disability rights advocacy organizations to speak out on this critical issue.

Posted 3 days ago

Disability Rights Activism for Student Leaders

Posted 3 days ago

Disability Rights Activism for Student Leaders

Queerability, in collaboration with campuspride, has created a resource for students interested in engaging in disability rights activism on their campuses! Check it out!

Posted 5 days ago

Queerability Statement on President Obama’s LGBTQ Employment Executive Order

Queerability applauds President Obama for issuing an executive order that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in government contractors. Additionally, we are profoundly grateful that the President did not include a religious exemption. This executive order will have a significant impact on the 28 million LGBTQ employees who work with government contractors. 

Furthermore, we urge the President and the Obama Administration to continue their commitment to LGBTQ employment non-discrimination and to extend equal employment protections to all LGBTQ Americans.

Posted 6 days ago


I had a horrifying experience tonight. These are my Tweets. 

Tweets: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9

Posted 1 week ago

When it gets tricky to be LGBT and disabled at once.


Talking to a mixed LGBT group about the way developmentally disabled men have historically been castrated for being gay, or sexual at all.

Having the first question out of someone’s mouth be, “Well did they request castration?”

Not knowing.  Not knowing how to bridge the gap.  Wanting to cry.  Wanting to scream.  Wanting to say that punitive castration for being gay, or for being sexual at all, is not and will never be the same as sex affirmation surgery.  No words.  None at all.

Just distance.

Distance like I was floating away from the rest of the room.  They were all in the room.  I was floating down a tunnel, far away, somewhere they couldn’t see me anymore, and I couldn’t see them.  And they couldn’t see that I was far away.  They couldn’t see the distance.

I felt the distance.

I still feel the distance.

That’s when I knew the LGBT community, or the L community, or the T community, could never fully be my community, at least as currently constituted.

Or rather, that was one of the biggest moments when I knew.

They were many.

They were ongoing.

When I went to the LGBT community center, I brought kava to spray under my tongue for severe anxiety.  I couldn’t go there without it without accidentally making a scene in some way.

Because there was always something.


There was the woman named Eileen, that they secretly referred to as “A-loon” because she was strange and presumed mentally ill.  This one guy who seemed to have a lot of clout there bought her a television and told the rest of us that he did it so that she’d stay home and not bother people there with her craziness.  

I reported him to the board, for that, and for racist comments he’d made about the KKK, and for comments about how child molesters were just a misunderstood minority (and how, having been molested, I was too close to the issue to comment).  And they were duly horrified.  But when I also mentioned things he’d said about disabled people being better off dead, I was told that was a matter of personal opinion, not a matter of discrimination, certainly not something that created a hostile atmosphere to anyone disabled.

I never did bother reporting the guy who talked about working in an institution with people like me, standing over their beds, and saying “Why are you alive?” in this anguished voice.  He wanted me to share in his anguish.  He did not understand my horror, my desire never to be alone with him, my fear that he had actually killed, maybe, one of those nights, alone with children who couldn’t talk back.

Then there was not being invited to events because my social skills might embarrass someone.

And there was the way a young woman my age, coming out at the same time I did, got to be a ‘baby dyke’, got to be flirted with, and I was just… there, in the corner, awkward.  Not awkward as in I was being socially awkward.  But awkward as in, “This is an awkward situation, that sie’s over in the corner there, and we aren’t interacting with hir the way we’re interacting with other people like hir.”

There was the glances people did over the top of my head.  The kind of glances that parents make to each other when their child does something they disapprove of, but they don’t want to say it out loud.  Except for me, it seemed like those glances happened an awful lot from people who were not my parents, who were just nondisabled LGBT people who felt like they were worlds older and better than me because I was DD.  And trust me, I did not imagine the glances, I’m very good at noticing those glances.

The glances that say, “Sie’ll never understand.  But you know.”

I think I fit in a little better in the trans community than the lesbian or generic LGB/LGBT communities, but I’m not sure why.  Maybe because there was another autistic person there, roughly my age, and he was dating a dyslexic person, and we had our own little corner of neurodiversity.  It was also more racially and economically diverse than the generic LGB communities in the same community center.  I’ve found the more diverse a community is, in any respect, the more likely I am to be welcomed.

But still.  I can’t explain the distance between being someone who, by virtue of disability, can have your reproductive organs involuntarily cut out of you for being sexual, and being someone who can’t see past a personal desire to have your reproductive organs modified, to see that involuntary sterilization is always, always a horror no matter who you are.

The distance is just too huge.

Posted 1 week ago

Trans and Cousins

After reading about a friend's experience with gender, I started thinking about something.

There are a few overlaps between the disability and the trans communities.  One of the more well-known ones is body dysphoria being considered by professionals as a mental illness.  (Whether or not the trans community agrees with that tends to vary from person to person.)

One of the less obvious ones is that disabled people often experience gender dysphoria.  Even cis disabled people experience this.  Why?  Because we’ve become so desexualized, we sometimes can’t even be afforded the recognition of our gender.

Cis typically defines someone who identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth, but I think a lot of disabled people experience much of the same things even being cis that trans people experience because the gender society projects is not the one we identify with.

I thought about this and the idea that maybe some disabled people could fall under the trans umbrella for this experience.  I personally feel like this could be appropriate, though I don’t know how the rest of the trans community would feel about this.  Regardless, that doesn’t mean much when the person experiencing this doesn’t identify as trans.

But I still feel like the trans community should be open to this.

Jim Sinclair coined the term, autistics and cousins (ACs), after an interaction between two members of Autism Network International.

From History of ANI by Jim Sinclair:

Another development during the 1993 conference was the recognition of a new segment of the ANI community, and the adoption of a new term to refer to it. One of the people who had been corresponding with ANI members online, and was attending this conference to meet with us in person for the first time, was not autistic. He had hydrocephalus, another congenital neurological abnormality. In our online discussions he had been noticing many similarities between his experiences and characteristics as a person with hydrocephalus, and the experiences and characteristics of autistic people. At the conference he met Kathy, who was not online at the time and did not know who he was. He introduced himself to her, explaining that he was interested in exploring similarities between himself and autistic people. He briefly summarized the effects of hydrocephalus in his life. Kathy considered this for a moment, and then warmly exclaimed “Cousin!” (Cousins, 1993). From that time on, the term “cousin” has been used within ANI to refer to a non-autistic person who has some other significant social and communication abnormalities that render him or her significantly “autistic-like.” The broader term “AC,” meaning “autistics and cousins,” emerged soon afterward.

This is an umbrella that includes all autistic people as well as people with other disabilities (such as ADHD, SPD, OCD, epilepsy, etc.) that have caused them to share many of the experiences of autistic people.

So what if we had trans cousins?

Posted 2 weeks ago


Posted 2 weeks ago

Cultural Appropriation and Disability: The Problem with Using Wheelchairs as Decoration and Portraying Individuals with Disabilities as Inspirational

The cultural appropriation of disability is a major obstacle in the struggle to achieve a just society in which individuals with disabilities are treated with dignity and receive access to supports and services to live richer, self-determined lives.

This article addresses two forms of cultural appropriation. The first form is the use of images of individuals with disabilities by able-bodied persons to promote a charity campaign/advocacy issue or to describe a current event. The second form of cultural appropriation relates to the use of images or objects associated with disability for performance art that is unrelated to disability advocacy.

When non-profit organizations or news corporations use images of individuals with disabilities that are meant to be inspirational or cause an emotional reaction, the population of individuals with disabilities as a whole are held back. This is because the images contribute to the reputation that individuals with disabilities are helpless, pitiable, and/or inspiring. The problem with being seen as inspiring is that often it stands in the way being seen as an equal. A recent example is a news story about two North Carolina State students on the football team who sat next to a student with a disability at lunch (news story). This story was widely circulated and was even posted by AUCD on Facebook. The troubling implications of this story were passionately described by Karin Hitselberger in her blog post, “Being My Friend Does Not Make You a Hero.” Hitselberger calls for change by writing: “It’s time for us to stop being inspired and surprised when we see disabled and nondisabled people engage in everyday interactions with one another. It’s time for us to stop praising able-bodied people for associating with or being friends with disabled people” (claiming crip blog). It was later revealed that the students eating lunch together were already friends and had no idea their photo was taken (real story of photo).

Those who are in a position to use these images should ensure accuracy and carefully consider the unintentional messages this content could be sending. Seeking advice from individuals with disabilities is recommended.

It is equally troubling when images or objects associated with disability are used to captivate or shock audiences in performances that are unrelated to disability advocacy. Musicians Lady Gaga and Rick Ross have used this form of cultural appropriation in live performances and music videos. Of the several live and on-screen performances in which Lady Gaga used a wheelchair, her performance as a wheelchair bound mermaid has received the most attention. Following the performance, Gaga was attacked by a group of people who threw eggs at the young starlet. It remains unclear if the attackers’ outrage was related to her inappropriate wheelchair use. Later, when Gaga and musician Bette Midler engaged in an argument about whether or not Gaga stole Midler’s act, neither of them seemed to be aware of the fact that the act was offensive.

In the case of Rick Ross, the rapper performed in Lil Wayne’s music video, “John,” while seated in a wheelchair with adornments to simulate movement called spinners. The only purpose of the wheelchair was shock value.

It was disturbing to see these musicians make light of the vital use of wheelchairs by using them for decoration. Kristin Guin, founder of Queerability, agrees. Guin, who identifies as autistic and bisexual, recommends bringing the inappropriate wheelchair use to the attention of the performers. “We would hope that the celebrity apologizes and agrees to remove the content,” states Guin.

We in the community of disability activists should not be paralyzed by anger over these instances of cultural appropriation. Instead, we should create opportunities to educate those who have yet to understand how to perceive and treat individuals with disabilities as equals. I call on anyone who encounters this type of behavior to make their opinions known.

The title is a link to the original post.