Um, congrats?

Life is not fair. We should all know that by now. There is no way it can be given our different perspectives. What seems fair to me may seem patently unfair to you. Without going into the whole socio-economic debate, life is just not fair.

But how do we determine “not fair” versus “discrimination” in today’s world?

I’m physically disabled. Is it “not fair” that non-disabled people use the stall intended for disabled people? I’d say yes. I would happily pass every single thing wrong with me to an individual who wants that stall. I don’t considering children to be a disability. Use the family restroom please. I also don’t consider luggage or packages to be disabilities. They don’t get their own seat on public transportation or qualify someone as needing the extra space in a stall.

I’m Autistic. So are two of my children. Is it “not fair” or “discrimination” that we face daily as we navigate a world that some feel we don’t belong in? Both, from my perspective. The “not fair” part consists of stares, disparaging remarks, being left out and flat-out bullying. It would be great if these things magically went away. However, because we’re all different and we perceive things differently, they never will.

The “discrimination” part comes into play when non-Autistic people insist on denying Autistics a voice in the discussions about Autism. When parents pour bleach into their children’s bodies to “cure” them of Autism. When our communities fail to work with us to develop supports so we can be active participants. When our co-workers treat us differently because we wear the same style clothes all the time (itchy tags!) or have responses that aren’t what is expected. This is discrimination. This is determining that because of a different way of looking at the world, we are less than deserving.

I am not less than deserving. I am not “taking” anything away from anyone else just by thinking differently or needing some extra space in a stall. I am not in need of fixing, although I’m happy to try to learn more tools to cope with a world that is overwhelmingly intolerant of differences. I will keep trying to help people understand that different is good. If we were all the same, the world would be a very boring place.

Congratulations to those who feel the word is fair and just. That must feel pretty darn good. For the rest of us, we will continue to speak up. Louder and even louder so our voices can be heard over the din of those who would silence us.


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