I was born with a physical disability called Arthrogryposis which if I quote Wikipedia is ‘.. also known as arthrogryposis multiplex congenital (AMC), is a rare congenital disorderthat is characterized by multiple joint contracturesand can include muscle weaknessand fibrosis. It is a non-progressive disease. The disease derives its name from Greek, literally meaning ‘curved or hooked joints.’ You can get this in both of your legs or arms or both. I have it in my arms which if you have a sense of humour means I look like a T-Rex, which is what I have taken to telling young children when they ask ‘What happen to your arms?’.
May I apologise now if I go off on a tangent or offend anyone.
Anyway, my disability has never really been an issue, yeah I’ve needed help with a lot of stuff growing up such as opening certain things or getting dressed but over all I’m pretty independent. My parents had a choice of sending me to a ‘special’ school or mainstream school, they chose to send me to a mainstream school and I’m grateful for that. I’m lucky enough to not need a great deal of help so going to mainstream school was pretty easy and I fit in, my disability was never an issue at primary school or high school. It doesn’t define me, it’s just a ‘thing’ about me. Due to myself and others around me never seeing it as an issue I’d never really sat thinking about it. Of course I’ve had things shouted at me in the street from anyone of any age and gender but you soon learn to get better at come backs, believe it or not when I get ‘spaz’ shouted at me in the street it doesn’t offend me, I call myself that and I’ve said a lot worse about myself. So have my friends for that matter.
The reason I wanted to write about disability is mostly down to recent events over accessibility when it comes to disabled folk going out on the town or just generally leaving the house to do every day stuff. As I have said I’m quite lucky enough to be independent not to need a day to day carer so I can wander into town for a few hours by myself and not worry, well that is before I’ve been to the toilet a number of times. I don’t have something wrong with my bladder, it’s more down to not being able to go to the toilet on my own in town without the need of someone unfastening/fastening my trousers. Before transitioning, on nights out with female friends it was easy to go to the toilet with them as I looked like one but now I have transitioned being a bit drunk and needing a slash when I’m with a female friend is hard work, like actual effort to go find the manager of a bar or club to ask them if they have a disabled toilet so I can use that and not have the awkward conversation/argument I’ve had with many toilet attendants stating that I’m going to use the female toilets cos I have to, due to the club not having an accessible toilet. Even if the place has an disabled toilet most of the time it isn’t fully accessible due to cleaning equipment being in there or it not being big enough to fit a wheelchair in, yes really!
A few weeks ago some friends of mine in Scotland had gone out in Glasgow to celebrate getting an award for their contribution to further equal rights for LGBT people, they decided to head to a placed Polo Lounge but were refused entry once the bouncers saw that Robert was in a wheelchair due to him having Cerebral Palsy, the bouncers reasons for refusing him entry? ‘..no facilities for him at their venue’. I mean what the fuck, first it’s blatant discrimination due to him being disabled and secondly the bouncers just assumed that he wouldn’t be able to manage. Robert told the bouncers that it was OK and he didn’t need help so to prove his point he got out of his chair and pulled himself into the doorway where the bouncers called the police to have him removed. Nathan, who suffers from arthritis, asked to go sit with Robert but the bouncers picked him and moved him away from the front door. Sadly when I read this on their facebook’s I wasn’t surprised not only down to the clubs lack of accessibility but the door staff being complete wankers to them. Unfortunately for Polo Lounge they picked on the wrong guys, Robert and Nathan have since received an overwhelming amount of support from friends,families and strangers who have all promised to boycott Polo Lounge.
This blog is long sorry.
Something else I have noticed since being with my girlfriend (yes, I’m talking about her again) is that we get stared at quite a lot. It doesn’t bother me but I do notice it. I’m not sure if they are staring because I’m disabled or cos I’m white and she’s Jamaican. Who cares. The reason I’m bringing it up because we were in Nottingham a few weeks ago walking back to the hotel where we past a bunch of ‘lads’ (dick heads), when one of them saw us holding hands and when he past us shouted at his mates to look at us. This is clear that he found it hilarious that a disabled person could have a partner. Believe it or not we don’t just sit in our homes waiting to die. We can love and have sex, shocking as it may seem to arseholes like him. It really bothered me that he felt the need to point us out, usually I can ignore people but he really pissed me off that night.