Finding Space for Myself in a Social Justice Movement that Doesn’t Make Space for Me

A person standing alone, looking out onto a hazy lake.

Following the end of my writing fellowship with Rooted in Rights, I found myself thinking about why I advocate for the things I do. For as short a time as disability issues have been the primary focus of my writing and politics, I have learned countless things from my fellow disabled peers. I have found new ways to cultivate community care, discovered resources more disabled folk need support on, and become infinitely better at acknowledging new ways to just be disabled without apologizing. I would not have gained any of this without taking time to make room for others, with or without any necessary criticisms that came along with doing so. Whether this meant listening to newer voices on disability topics instead of leading conversations like I always have, or devoting resources to cultivate new leadership in previous organizations I worked with, making space for people has been a benefit to me as much as it has been to others.  

Because of what I have learned from my peers, the fundamental focus across all my pieces has been to examine questions about who belongs and who is left out of conversations of justice, particularly as they pertain to disabled people. In centering my work on such matters, I have remained steadfast in my belief that spaces dedicated to cultivating the power of oppressed peoples must make room for more than those who have traditionally held leadership roles. While history offers many easily accessible examples of great men who have made an impact on the world, such examples are ironically not so easy to access when it comes to disabled folk. For people living at the intersections of racial, class, gender, and other oppressions as well as ableism, history is even less kind. For these reasons, it is imperative that spaces fighting for justice make space for those who are not always represented in the struggles for a better world.

But what good does it do to make space for people in movements? And what does making space for people actually mean?

Making space for others begins with a simple premise: that no matter what our  experiences or knowledge, no one person is the absolute authority on any topic. No one person can ever claim full ownership of what it means to encounter racism, transphobia, anti-semitism, ableism or any other form of discrimination.

So, what are the implications of making space when it comes to behaving ethically in the world and towards each other? Because no one holds all the answers on human experience, I can’t in good faith speak over someone when they tell me about how the world has treated them. For example, just because I experience difficulties and joys related to my mental health issues does not mean I know the whole of disability experience, such as issues related to the physical accessibility of a building. If I spoke over someone talking about such things, not only would I be patronizing, but I would also be denying them their rightful input on a matter they have more knowledge on. Moreover, speaking over the experiences of others denies the world valuable perspectives that could shift how we all approach problems in our lives. Acknowledging their experiences means stepping back in conversation, leadership, and in prioritizing resources, and letting them take the initiative not only in talking about the problem but also directing its solutions.

This is at the core of why it matters so much for movements to never stop giving space to those who have been left out of previous organizing efforts: perspective. As much love and faith as I have in movement leaders around the world, I know that people can make mistakes when they become too myopic in how they approach problems. I have seen people constantly forget about the needs of disabled folk of color like me simply because no one wanted to seek us out for input. Or worse, they sought out a few token people but only listened to them as far as their ideas could be adopted to suit movement leader’s personal views. In doing so, they denied so many others the chance to hear from people who could have provided so much to an organizing space and expanded the scope of ways to approach social issues affecting all of our lives. All because the organizing heads didn’t want to spare a moment of humility for folks who they thought of as not worth listening to.

I understand making space for others can be difficult. Listening to others potentially tell you that you’ve been leaving out countless people because of how you approach organizing is a dreadful thing to hear. If you are like me, you also hate hearing you have hurt anyone, especially if most of the reason you became involved with organizing or social justice issues was to help people. But you never learn anything unless you start by accepting just how much you can grow through learning from others.

What is the good that comes with making space for others in movements? To put it simply, a recognition of the multiple ways people from all disabled and non-disabled walks of life have found ways to survive in the often violent world we live in. And, more importantly, how such folks provide glimpses of loving, just futures that acknowledge capacity for all of us, in our multiple ways of being, to thrive.

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Rooted in Rights exists to amplify the perspectives of the disability community. Blog posts and storyteller videos that we publish and content we re-share on social media do not necessarily reflect the opinions or values of Rooted in Rights nor indicate an endorsement of a program or service by Rooted in Rights. We respect and aim to reflect the diversity of opinions and experiences of the disability community. Rooted in Rights seeks to highlight discussions, not direct them. Learn more about Rooted In Rights

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Disability Justice Must Include All Marginalized Identities

Hands holding gears connected together. They are in the shadow of the sun against a blue sky.

When Rooted in Rights first accepted me for their inaugural Rooted in Writing Fellowship program last year, my reaction was one of pure disbelief. For all that I have struggled in my post-grad life to make writing a full-time career, I have been even more shocked to find people who believe in me enough to support my development as a writer. To know organizations exist that are willing to devote resources to building platforms for trans disabled women like me is a blessing I am unbelievably thankful for.

Throughout the past 4 years in which I have come to acknowledge how disability factors into my everyday life, I have longed to connect with spaces where I can feel acknowledged in my entirety. Sure, I have found comfort in spaces with fellow people of color and Queer/Trans circles prior to my disability issues becoming more integral to my life. I’ve bonded with several people over our shared struggles and we continue to support each other whenever we can. But ever since I became aware of just how deeply complicated and diverse disabilities and disability spaces could be, I have felt a sense of belonging I had never experienced before. Whereas before I had attempted fruitlessly to connect conversations about mental health to my experiences as a Queer/Trans person of color, in disability I found a potential space for all of me to exist. More than anything, I found a place where I could create fully as a writer, growing and tending to all parts of me without feeling as though the undesired parts of my identity would have to be tossed aside.

Unfortunately, this has not come without some unpleasant realizations about what it means to be a disabled trans person of color in disability spaces. If I am being honest, the past years connecting with disability spaces have often given me the impression that whiteness reigns supreme when it comes to who gets priority in resource allocation and conversation topics. As grateful as I am to witness conversations about mental health address institutional conditions beyond stigma, the conversations still remain woefully focused on mental health concerns related only to middle-class white folks. When race is introduced into the discussion, may white disabled folks tend to become defensive, wondering why folks of color with mental health issues are being divisive. Many white disabled folks don’t ever consider that we are simply trying to have our issues matter as much as theirs have relative to the history of mainstream disability organizing. And as important as it is for trans folks of color like me to be chosen for positions like this fellowship, I won’t deny a familiar worry creeping into my head that mirrors frustrations Rooted in Rights’ Digital Manager Vilissa Thompson once expressed: that my identity will become a hot button issue to address at one point and time and then be forgotten when the next “woke” topic comes up.

I’ll be frank: I am not unfamiliar with feeling out of place because of my identity. In Queer/Trans spaces I have navigated this same relationship with whiteness in terms of whose voices were prioritized over others. In person-of-color-focused spaces I cherished, my mental health issues made me stand out in often uncomfortable ways, especially when confronting people who only paid lip service to disability concerns.

I know my communities need work and I am patient and pragmatic enough to know that it will take time to accomplish that work. Making truly inclusive spaces and caring communities is like good writing: it takes time, effort, and multiple people giving their input equally. And, with being accepted for this fellowship so many months ago, I know there is capacity for disability spaces to value the work of folks who aren’t just white and cisgender.

However, I also think it has long been time for more white-centric disability organizations recognize the amazing contemporary work many of these same communities have done to add complexity to disability conversations. Whether it is the amazing political organizing done by disabled Queer/Trans voices like Lydia Brown, Mia Mingus, and organizations like the National Coalition for Latinx with Disabilities or the social media work of Alice Wong, I know my communities have much to offer to the amazing disabled futures we are all building.

I can only hope this is represents the start of more chances for people from my communities to grow and delight in the wonderful space of disabled existence. It would be a shame for my place in disability as a writer of color to continue being an anomaly rather than the standard more organizations should strive for.

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Rooted in Rights exists to amplify the perspectives of the disability community. Blog posts and storyteller videos that we publish and content we re-share on social media do not necessarily reflect the opinions or values of Rooted in Rights nor indicate an endorsement of a program or service by Rooted in Rights. We respect and aim to reflect the diversity of opinions and experiences of the disability community. Rooted in Rights seeks to highlight discussions, not direct them. Learn more about Rooted In Rights

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When Real Life for Disabled People Seems a Lot Like Post-Apocalyptic Fiction, is there Hope for the Future?

Post-apocalyptic scene shows deserted city and burned out building with a sign that says "road closed."

Ever since I was a little kid, I looked to books and other media as a way to escape my everyday life. Whether it was sci-fi films like Star Wars, uneasy space bounty hunter tales in video games like Metroid Prime, or steampunk books like A Series of Unfortunate Events, I found myself enraptured with every world. As I grew older, I found myself gravitating to grittier media in the form of apocalypse narratives. As distressing as this facet of sci-fi could be, I have been delighted to observe how recent media such as The Last of Us, The Walking Dead, and other stories imagine how humanity collectively survives at its most dire. As cliche as this type of fiction can be, the potential they show for what the future may yet hold is exciting.

However, it is precisely these exercises in imagining the future that have recently left me feeling troubled. As exciting as I find contemplating how humanity rebuilds itself following worldwide collapse, it also terrifies me. But not because I fear zombies, fungal infected aliens, or any other monster (human or otherwise) that appears in these worlds. No, I fear this media more for what it normalizes in our cultural imagination. You see, as complex as the characterization of able-bodied people in this type of media can be, I can’t help but notice this same complexity absent from how disabled people are characterized.

As disabled writer Shoshana Kessock puts it, this media tends to portray disability as a liability, something to be excised for the sake of the able-bodied. Whether it is the presumed uselessness of Sarah in Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead or the morally negative characterization of bipolar Pilar in Defiance, the imaginative boundaries for the role(s) disabled people have in these worlds start at burden and end at liability.

Furthermore, these stories consistently have moments where any instance of perceived weakness is treated as a problem the protagonists must handle later on. Whether that person is portrayed as having limited mobility, a chronic health condition, or a deficiency in mental functioning, creators of such (post-)apocalyptic media reinforce a viewpoint that such individuals should be considered a drain on the group’s resources. At best, the labeled person(s) will need to prove their worth by committing to an (unexpressed) standard of health the group must have in order to survive. At worst, there is narrative validation that any person who previously lived with a disability is holding onto a modern, luxurious right to life in a world now in chaos.

This all raises the question: what kinds of futures can disabled people imagine for themselves within the context of this ableist survival of the fittest mentality? If all it takes is one trigger-happy leader to say a disabled person will get the group killed unless they are put down immediately, what message does this send about the value of disabled life? In other words, if all you have from which to draw hope for the future is (post-)apocalypse narratives as they are now, then for disabled people the future truly has no sense of hope whatsoever.

I know these kinds of concerns can seem frivolous in the face of all the other issues disabled people face in reality. However, that is exactly my problem: I don’t believe this kind of horrifying, purposeful erasure of disabled people is restricted solely to the realm of fiction.

Whether it is the disproportionate removal of children by Child Protective Services from blind, deaf, and intellectually disabled parents for (imagined) fears of neglect, or the recent plastic straw ban debates ignoring their non-frivolous uses by disabled people, the current outlook for disabled people is grim. More than anything, these cases demonstrate the same dismissive attitude towards disabled people that apocalyptic media does. For something as minor as plastic straws, disabled people’s vital insight on appropriate policy is ignored in place of villainization. For something as future-oriented as raising children, many disabled parents are made to think their disabilities or (presumed) unfit parenting have no place in the future.

Even in cases as extreme as disaster planning, disabled people are still not free from undue burdens. From a lack of funding to support policy which addresses disabled needs prior to natural disasters to poor planning of evacuation centers used during those disasters, disabled people remain an afterthought. As a result, situations like those in Texas during Hurricane Harvey where elderly, disabled residents of nursing homes get left behind become all too common. In real life contexts mirroring those appearing throughout apocalyptic media, disabled people’s lives matter as little in reality as they do in fiction. With this context in mind, I can’t help but laugh at my inability to tease out if what I hear happening to disabled people is fact or fiction.

In light of all this, however, I do not despair. Instead, I look upon these realities as a chance to do what I think post-apocalyptic media does best: show us the good humanity has yet to accomplish. If the world currently sees disabled people as disposable burdens, then perhaps there is a future yet to be made where that is not the case.

In the end, I share disabled writer Corinne Duyvis’ view that the wonderful thing about sci-fi (and by extension post-apocalyptic media) is that what feels set in place about the world now does not have to be so. If reality and fiction as we know it now are living horrors for disabled people, perhaps there is space to imagine a beautiful future for disabled folk. And I look forward to being a part of those disabled futures, those days where we don’t ask folks to prove they matter to survive but live on precisely because we know they matter already.

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Rooted in Rights exists to amplify the perspectives of the disability community. Blog posts and storyteller videos that we publish and content we re-share on social media do not necessarily reflect the opinions or values of Rooted in Rights nor indicate an endorsement of a program or service by Rooted in Rights. We respect and aim to reflect the diversity of opinions and experiences of the disability community. Rooted in Rights seeks to highlight discussions, not direct them. Learn more about Rooted In Rights

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Video Games and Madness: A World of Harmful Tropes

dark-lit photo of a pair of hands holding a video game controller

Having just recovered from another one of many depressive episodes I’ve had throughout my life, I’ve had time to reflect on my relationship to madness and reality. Being of a philosophical bent, I ruminate on these things out of habit. And, whenever I get too swallowed up by the resulting waves of sadness, I find myself turning to video games to break away from reality.

It has been ages since I owned gaming systems, as insecure housing and unstable income make pleasantries hard to come by. Nevertheless, ever since I was a child I have loved following video game storylines. I relish the quirky, hilarious narratives video games offer and, in video games with more emotional centers to their writing, I am inspired by how profound the overall themes can be. Good writing in video games, even ones with terrifying stories, stays with you and has given me many occasions to grow as a person.

However, as I have gotten older and had various mental health disabilities play a deeper role in my everyday life, I have wondered more and more about how madness has played out in the landscape of video games. How humane is the overall representation of those with mental health disabilities, and how nuanced are the depictions of madness in the current age of video game narratives? Unfortunately, as far as video games are concerned, the life of someone with a mental health disability is a crude and violent one.

Whether it is the formulaic usage of an asylum as a setting for horror in games like Outlast and The Evil Within, Manhunt 2’s introduction sequence showing patients murdering asylum staff, or the older cliche of a person running around wildly in a straight jacket, mental health does not get positive treatment in video games. Or rather, anyone who seems mentally unwell compared to those considered of sound mind is treated at best with pity and at worst with fear.

Time and again these views of mental illness have been proven incorrect. As frequently as video games associate those with mental illness as being inherently violent or hopeless, the truth is anything but this. In fact, those with mental health issues are more often victims of violence, no more likely to be violent than the general population, even in cases of less common issues like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Both personal and statistical data corroborate this, as well as the reality that people with mental health disabilities live a marginalized existence due to mental health-related persecution. All of this further ignores that reasons like abuse of women, racial discrimination, etc. account for more violence in the US than mental health disabilities do.

The problem with engaging any of these points is that it validates the notion that conversations treating those with mental health disabilities as inherently violent are still worth having. Furthermore, these grotesque mental health tropes in video games aren’t dehumanizing just because of their factual inaccuracy. Rather, the bulk of their stigmatizing effects comes from how often they solidify negative perceptions of those with mental health disabilities. When the only image of mental health disabilities in video games is that of someone scheming, murderous, and morally dark or a pitiful, helpless person, it is hard to feel represented as a three dimensional character, let alone a human being.

And when people react to these representations by discussing their accuracy in depicting people with mental health disabilities, I can’t help but feel they have missed the point. I don’t feel dehumanized by these tropes for their inaccuracy. I feel dehumanized because what I see is a poorly written caricature of a human being.

As someone who has grown up with video games and seen their potential to carry through profound messages, my sadness with the state of mental health representation is less about facts and more about character variance. I have interests, likes, and quirks like any other person and my madness is simply one dimension of my full character. I can be dealing with madness and still be the same goofy, shy, anxious person I have always been.

What stories and takes on humanity are lost when the only conception of mental health in a story is scary, insane inmate #3678? What if we had more amazing stories of struggle and triumph like the lead of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, who succeeds in her quest, yet never fully moves away from the psychosis that defined much of her life? Or even a more morally murky character whose mental health issues are not the totality of her motivations but an integral part of how her worldview formed? What could be gained from writing human beings with difficulties, rather than using cliches as a substitute for rich character backgrounds?

I can only hope that when another bad depressive episode comes around in the future I’ll have better games to look forward to than those with a one-dimensional use of madness. Hopefully, new games will have more humanized mad people like me.

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Rooted in Rights exists to amplify the perspectives of the disability community. Blog posts and storyteller videos that we publish and content we re-share on social media do not necessarily reflect the opinions or values of Rooted in Rights nor indicate an endorsement of a program or service by Rooted in Rights. We respect and aim to reflect the diversity of opinions and experiences of the disability community. Rooted in Rights seeks to highlight discussions, not direct them. Learn more about Rooted In Rights

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Social Justice Activists Can’t Always Fight for Everything, and That’s Okay

A black and white blurred photo of protestors. Only their arms are visible.

Whenever I have strength to walk around my neighborhood, I often find myself reflecting on how I got to where I’m at now. In comparison to a few years ago, my life is drastically better than I expected it to be. Three years ago, I was fresh out of college, couch surfing around LA and the Bay area, fully expecting to die before reaching 23 years old. All I had to look forward to was desperately searching for work and housing people wouldn’t give me, continuing to run out of money until likely ending up homeless on the street. Now, despite my current housing being unpleasant or unstable at times, I’ve managed to start saving money and begin looking into living on my own more comfortably.

I’ve talked about this with friends who have had similar windfalls in their life and found they feel the same way I do: happy to no longer be struggling, and yet also guilty. I feel guilty over the fact that not only are we starting to survive, but maybe we are also going to thrive. We might actually live long enough to have stability and happiness be part of our lives for a long time.

And something about that feels wrong. Living to this point seems unfair when others are long denied access to safety and security.

Don’t misunderstand me: I still worry about how I will cover rent once the new year rolls around. Therapy has been a constant concern and accessing it without eating away at the money I do have still remains a hassle. I often have to convince myself to not worry about spending too much on groceries and avoid falling back into old habits of restricting food intake to cut back on expenses. Regardless of these circumstances, I am still better off than a lot of people, in the world and even some of my friends. And I can’t help but feel guilty for that.

Much of this guilt comes from lessons I’ve learned from organizing in years past. In many activist circles I’ve been a part of, it was imperative to let the people affected most strongly by oppression take center stage. Those dealing with the heaviest burdens should take the lead in organizing as they often know better than people in a privileged position about what care they are being denied.  And, above all else, being willing to listen to those who call you out and demand better from your behavior will help you learn best. That is ultimately what being a good activist and, by extension, being a good person has meant to me. All I hope is to avoid being someone who lives comfortably at the expense of others.

But I can’t keep up with everything going on in the world. As rarely as I have the strength some days to walk around my neighborhood, I have even less energy to keep up with all the problems going on in our world. As often as I try to stay informed, I feel as though I frequently let people down by not talking about certain topics enough. Worse yet, any time spent trying to keep myself stable feels like time that could have gone elsewhere. Living and trying to do better for myself, to make a life not wracked with constant struggle feels like an insult to those who are dealing with worse.

I never want to stop caring. I never want to stop fighting for people who deserve better.  But I also can’t live my life feeling as though I am a terrible person for only doing what I can with the means that I have. I can only give so much of myself to any movement before I unravel at the seams.

The work of creating a better world is messy and complicated. I know I have fucked up before, judged people too harshly, and held such high standards that I’ve disappointed myself for years. But all the activists I’ve ever admired have had their own similar journeys of failures and mistakes they made and grew from. And as much as I have weathered the storm of the past years, I think I have forgotten something important in fighting for a better world for everyone: I am a person as well, and that means I deserve to be fought for as well.

If I am not willing to fight for my own personal liberation from trauma and oppression, how could I ever hope to create space to work towards the collective liberation of all?

True justice is healing in action. It doesn’t mean always keeping track of every single problem or ignoring the ones we lack energy for. It means creating better worlds for all those who need it, even if it just means ourselves for once.

I still wonder if I deserve the place I have in my life now and if I am doing enough to be a good person. But I’m realizing that isn’t what really matters. What matters is doing better for everyone: for the better world I want to see happen and for the me that never imagined making it this far.


Rooted in Rights exists to amplify the perspectives of the disability community. Blog posts and storyteller videos that we publish and content we re-share on social media do not necessarily reflect the opinions or values of Rooted in Rights nor indicate an endorsement of a program or service by Rooted in Rights. We respect and aim to reflect the diversity of opinions and experiences of the disability community. Rooted in Rights seeks to highlight discussions, not direct them. Learn more about Rooted In Rights

Click here to pitch a blog post to Rooted in Rights.

The Power of Storytelling in Times Like These

The word story spelled out in wooden letters, surrounded by other randomized wooden letters.

As the world around me grows ever more entrenched in the horrors of climate change, political repression, and capitalist growth, my fear grows alongside it. Every day I hear more about the terrors that oppressed communities are facing. With each new setback to civil rights, I wonder what will be required of all of us to hold back the oncoming wave of repression.

And yet, despite what nightmares await me in the coming years, my spirit is far from broken. Instead, I find myself emboldened. My creative spirit feels compelled to write a better world into existence, if only to hold onto the hope that we can imagine something kinder than the world we have now.

The power of storytelling is a complex one to reflect on at this point in time. On the surface, there couldn’t be anything more frivolous than to tell a story that only a few people read or share with others. I have dedicated countless hours to crafting stories told through poetry that I’ve worried ultimately provide nothing but a passing comfort to people like me. With all that happens in our everyday lives, sharing stories, even relatable ones, doesn’t feel like much when the weight of the world’s horrors feels overwhelming.

But then, I recall the tales of struggle and triumph shared by the variety of disability justice activists who have inspired me throughout the years. In their stories, I suddenly felt seen, heard, and recognized in ways I never could have imagined in a world that so often greeted me with cruelty. Rather than feel apologetic for living a life in which madness was an ever present part of my reality, I could instead feel empowered. I could feel as though my way of being in the world had purpose, and someone like me could be part of making the world a better place. Rather than feel as though I was merely a spectator in the fight to achieve freedom for oppressed communities, I could be part of those leading the charge for justice. All of this simply from engaging in the power of stories and storytelling.

To be clear, I am not saying that everything that needs to be changed about the world can be boiled down to simply writing or telling a story. There will always be a need for people on the frontline advocating and fighting for rights that are becoming increasingly hard to come by. So many of the rights disabled folk are able to enjoy now come directly from the efforts of those who put their bodies on the line for justice. Direct action will always be needed and should never be glossed over for the sake of only using rhetoric.

However, the power of a story rests in its ability to shape what we believe is possible to do, have, and achieve in our lives. Stories condition us over time with messages telling us who and what are worthy to exist in the world. In terms of disability, this can often mean creating an environment where all of our tales about disabled people become condescending inspiration anecdotes at best and lessons in pitying the helpless at worst. More unsettling, it can mean that our society ends up viewing disabled people as having lives that are less-than and not worth living. And yet, the fact that these stories do not have to stay this way and are always open to change suggests there is power to imagining worlds where disabled people are thought of differently. There is potential in imagining a world where not only do disabled people flourish but their ways of being give us a glimpse of what is possible for everyone.

If my reaction to the stories of disability justice activists like Leah Lakshmi and Mia Mingus says anything, it is that the revolution could always use dreamers as well as people on the frontlines. Dreamers who not only hope for new worlds to happen but put their time and effort charting out what those new worlds where disabled folk are centered can and should look like. Those kinds of stories are invaluable, giving us room to process the grief that the world has made us endure and find hope in connecting with others we never knew existed. They give us room to reject the toxic stories ableism has fed us and imagine a more just world, if only for a brief moment.

In the end, writing a story may not do much against repression other than offer a glimmer of hope in a world that seems ready to snuff you out. But for disabled folk like me, hope is worth quite a lot in this day and age. Sometimes, a story is just what you need to weather the storm of the present to reach the beautiful, disabled future awaiting us all.

Rooted in Rights exists to amplify the perspectives of the disability community. Blog posts and storyteller videos that we publish and content we re-share on social media do not necessarily reflect the opinions or values of Rooted in Rights nor indicate an endorsement of a program or service by Rooted in Rights. We respect and aim to reflect the diversity of opinions and experiences of the disability community. Rooted in Rights seeks to highlight discussions, not direct them. Learn more about Rooted In Rights

Click here to pitch a blog post to Rooted in Rights.

Disability and the Weight of Loneliness

Silhouette of a person sitting head-in-hands, with pieces coming off the silhouette and disappearing into the air.

For people who know me in real life, what I’m about to say might sound absurd: I have felt a constant sense of crushing loneliness ever since I was ten years old. Now, I wouldn’t blame you for thinking this odd. I am an open book when it comes to my my personal issues, talking about my past pains whenever possible. I write publicly in support of social causes I care about and check in with friends often to rejuvenate my spirit. I am, by my own account and others, a sociable and likable person. And yet, despite all the time I take to stay connected with people in my life and take care of myself, I frequently find myself filled with a despair and loneliness that is hard to describe.

I remember talking to a professor years ago who told me that I needed to learn how to keep stronger armor around my spirit, otherwise I would just be baring my pain publicly for the world to take advantage of it. For the longest time, I took great offense to that because I felt like it was a judgment of my desire to talk about issues I felt ashamed of a lot of my life. I felt as though she was saying I should be quieter about my problems.

Now, with the luxury of a few more years of life experience, I find myself thinking about what she said more critically in relation to my disability and the lives of disabled people who I know. As freeing as it can feel to share your story when people connect with it, over time it feels like a demand for them to give a damn about me. It slowly turns from a moment of needed intimacy and validation to a moment of forced intimacy, a moment where I have to give people my all in order for them to give the barest recognition of the resources and care I need. This is true not just for me but for pretty much all my disabled friends, including those of color, in my life. All of us try so hard to bravely share our stories just so people will help us out and yet, after the first few instances of interest, people stop caring. It ultimately reaches a point where I and other disabled people bare our souls to a world for access to diminishing resources and human connection…and then no one answers.

That denial of human connection can feel isolating. It can lead you to question whether you have made mistakes in how you told your story. Or worse, it makes you think you have to complain less about your problems, stop talking about your continued existence as a disabled person with disability issues, and just learn to be strong the way non-disabled people are.

Because, for Black and Brown disabled communities, that’s how we have survived this far. We’ve maintained our own health, pushed forward with strong spirits even when we were faltering, and acted as though care, softness, and healing were reserved for other people and not us. The only futures we’ve looked forward to are ones of disappointment, where people require us to shrink ourselves in order to access human connections we desperately need. In this ableist context, it makes sense why I and so many other disabled people feel lonely, even when we do engage in self-care. When the whole world makes your story feel less worthwhile over time, why wouldn’t you stay quiet and be strong, even if it resigns you to a life of slow, private decay?

Except I don’t think this is all disabled existence has to offer me and other disabled people. I, like Leah Lakshmi, believe there is more to our disabled legacies than scarcity and survival and more to our futures than a cycle of perpetual, unattended grief.

If I have learned anything in connecting with disabled community, it is that we are innovative. Upholding strength, ultimately, is not what defines our life purpose, nor does it limit our potential to be something more. Because as vulnerable as disabled life can be, that vulnerability has in turn given much more than strength ever could. And, in many ways, it has let me see that my life, while heavy with the weight of internalized oppression, is a vulnerable and fragile thing…and that is okay. Fragility is okay, and is anything but lonely.

It is a space filled with legacies of resistance, of acknowledging the softness of my elders and the many healing days ahead they left for me. And, above all else, it is a space where my fellow disabled people are, slowly but surely, dreaming of better futures for us all.

Rooted in Rights exists to amplify the perspectives of the disability community. Blog posts and storyteller videos that we publish and content we re-share on social media do not necessarily reflect the opinions or values of Rooted in Rights nor indicate an endorsement of a program or service by Rooted in Rights. We respect and aim to reflect the diversity of opinions and experiences of the disability community. Rooted in Rights seeks to highlight discussions, not direct them. Learn more about Rooted In Rights

Click here to pitch a blog post to Rooted in Rights.

My Mental Health Disabilities Don’t Make My Experience of Sexual Assault Less Worthy of Belief

Shadows of hands surrounding a female-presenting person standing in the middle of them.

It was approximately seven years ago when I first told my partner I was sexually assaulted by my best friend eight years prior to entering college. Despite the length of time since it happened and the memories being recovered only recently, my partner believed me. Although I was upfront in saying I have several mental health disabilities and don’t always trust my own memory, they still believed me. And every person I have told since then has reacted in the same way: with sympathy, love, and complete belief in my story.

I have been thinking about my assault recently as a result of the constant news cycles about sexual assault and abuse. Take the Kavanaugh hearings, for example. Every new detail that emerged about his alleged behavior during his youth and the unrelenting criticism the public gave Dr. Christine Blasey Ford led me to reflect on how rare my friends’ belief in my story had been.

Why did so many people pick apart Dr. Blasey Ford’s recollections whenever a single detail seemed slightly out of place?

Why did Kavanaugh receive such ample amounts of good faith regardless of the severity of the allegations made against him?

I would say these hearings inspired such fervent reactions because they touch on an unspoken practice our culture encourages: actively denying a survivor’s story unless it fits standards of objectivity put in place by non-survivors, often white able-bodied men in power. These standards, which leave no room for survivors who can’t remember events in a clear, straightforward manner, discourages those of us who can’t recount details coherently from sharing our stories. In doing so, these standards uphold the presumed innocence of white men and secure their claim to second chances, regardless of how unlikely it is that innocence will be granted to others who can’t recount stories deemed coherent by normative (i.e. ableist) society.

Why do I believe this?

Since my time in college, I’ve lost track of how often people (typically men but women as well) responded to assault accusations with denial and anger. Of course, no one wants to believe someone could do such a terrible thing. But I’ve never encountered another topic where people are so willing to toss aside the difficult, messy testimonies of friends and fellow community members. I’ve seen people across several communities try so hard to cut down the character of survivors that I’ve wondered how long I would last under scrutiny if my mental health issues were viewed as too crazy or my background considered too “untrustworthy” as a result.

And to be clear, this is not a desire to withhold due process for anyone. I care about facts. But this is the only subject I’ve ever encountered where people advocate stubbornly for objectivity while ignoring structural reasons why survivors (often women and non-binary folk) may delay reporting their assaults. Instead of recognizing that survivors may hesitate to come forward for fear of violent repercussions, critics of survivors will see this hesitation as evidence of guilt and deception. In other words, people who allegedly desire to evaluate sexual assault cases objectively conveniently disregard the impact reporting sexual assault in our culture has on how and when survivors report facts about their case in the first place.

Worse than that, survivor critics use these claims of objectivity as an excuse to invalidate survivors entirely. As often as these same people will claim to support survivors, they just as easily downplay the toll taken by survivors coming forward in ways not unlike Kavanaugh’s supporters. So many friends who I’ve known over the years will suddenly appeal to the good nature of those accused of assault, completely ignoring how most instances of domestic violence, spousal abuse, and intimate partner violence come from people who care about us. Never in my life have I seen people disregard compassion for survivors in the name of dubious standards for how a “real” survivor should act or remember what happened to them.

It is as if people are suggesting only certain people can ever be assaulted “correctly.” According to this logic, the only people with any right to be believed (besides white men) are likable women, women who fit the kind of articulate, educated background Dr. Christine Ford has, which still did not guarantee her freedom from public scrutiny and derision. The women of color survivors assaulted at my alma mater don’t matter. Nor do disabled folk who face sexual violence in general or specifically from people they rely on for everyday care needs. These people don’t matter. Not when they can’t report their stories in a coherent, timely fashion in a society that promises them violence for speaking out.

The saddest thing is I and many other survivors understand why people do this. We recognize something about our culture the Kavanaugh hearings and the #MeToo movement have only just brought to light. That truth is simple: our society goes to great lengths to protect men who do terrible things, all so people can live comfortably denying just how close they are to everyday monsters.

If nothing else, I hope we can look back on these times and see just how little good faith we give so many kinds of survivors. That we realize how little our culture of disbelief has done to support survivors and that we are spurred to turn our backs on it. Or at least enough so that one day, if someone has their assault story validated, it won’t feel like as much of a surprise when they believe a crazy person like me.


Rooted in Rights exists to amplify the perspectives of the disability community. Blog posts and storyteller videos that we publish and content we re-share on social media do not necessarily reflect the opinions or values of Rooted in Rights nor indicate an endorsement of a program or service by Rooted in Rights. We respect and aim to reflect the diversity of opinions and experiences of the disability community. Rooted in Rights seeks to highlight discussions, not direct them. Learn more about Rooted In Rights

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Homelessness is a Disability Justice Issue

person sitting in a wheelchair holding cup for money next to people passing by

A few months after I left college, I found myself working for a short time at a men’s homeless shelter in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco. I was a peer advocate, providing meals and conversation during late afternoon and overnight shifts throughout which I supported many residents who returned to the shelter at night inebriated and occasionally high on substances. Given the shelter’s harm-reduction policy, this was a fairly common occurrence for which we were trained to accommodate residents. We only ever handed out punishments if the substances were found on the premises.

It was not a treatment philosophy I had ever encountered before and the emphasis on acknowledging our residents’ humanity stuck with me. Long after I was forced to leave the job due to the same housing instability which these men experienced, I found myself wondering why such oppressed populations had never crossed my mind when considering issues of social justice. More importantly, why didn’t homelessness previously come to mind as a distinct disability issue?

Whether drawing from personal recollections or looking at recent research on the homeless, it is undeniable how central disability is to the lives of many homeless people. Whether it is Los Angeles homeless populations who deal with issues of substance abuse, the ubiquitous presence of those with psychiatric conditions in urban landscapes such as New York City, or those with visible disabilities such as wheelchair users in Santa Cruz, CA, disability is an integral part of the lives of many homeless people. To be clear, this is not to say that a majority of homeless people currently have a disability as, at least concerning issues of mental health, those with psychiatric disabilities are below 20% of the homeless population nationwide. However, with the overall increase of the homeless populations that has occurred over the past few decades – particularly those dealing with severe mental health issues -the need to address disability issues with the homeless is becoming more obvious.

So, if such homeless populations are increasing and disabled people with unattended needs are among them, why are their needs not being addressed? Why has it taken so long for people like myself and others interested in issues of social justice to care about disabled homeless people?

The answer is two-fold, drawing on a pair of related perspectives that drive much organizing around disability in normative settings. The first concerns the Broken Windows theory, which argues that any sign of disrepair in a community signalled by poor people will flourish and overtake the community if not attended to quickly. Essentially, if those who are not of a high caliber character are allowed to proliferate in an area (in this case, homeless people), then the area will soon fall into ruin because simply no one cares for the community anymore.

The second perspective has to do with what is known as respectability politics, the notion that in order to obtain adequate political power for negotiating resources to address social ills, certain codes of “appropriate” conduct should be enforced and adopted by all those involved. Originating from Black middle-class ideology, respectability politics demands a focus on incremental changes to “uplift” society rather than addressing structural ills that have haunted us all for centuries.  

Both perspectives get at the heart of why it has taken me and so many others so long to give a sincere damn about disabled homeless people.

I will be the first to say my time working at the shelter was not always the most comfortable. Men would come in intoxicated. Tempers would flare between residents and the likelihood of people coming to blows while dealing with mental health issues was not insignificant. I would wonder if such behavior merited my help and whether or not I would be better appreciated somewhere else by less unscrupulous people.

However, it is precisely that reaction which needed (and still needs) adjustment, not the residents of those shelters or homeless people on the street. Homeless folk are not the problem; rather, the problem is believing that homeless people become disposable once their structural needs are too inconvenient to address. More than anything, believing that anyone can be categorized entirely as an inconvenience is a toxic viewpoint that only creates a self-defeating agenda.

And yet, this is precisely the result of unintentionally relying on the aforementioned perspectives for organizing and criminal law. In many disability organizing circles I’ve been exposed to, there has been a tendency to care only for the “respectable” disabled folk. We have cared only for those who are well-spoken, clean-cut, white, and can advocate on civil grounds in the face of brutal, structural violence.

We ignore the fact that many homeless folk lack access to basics such as showers, bathrooms, food, and freedom from potential assault on the street due to homelessness.

We ignore how strongly affordable housing has declined in recent years and how extreme some city measures go to punish the very public existence of homeless people at the cost of their civil rights.

All because these people will either ruin our cities, act too crazy or too uncouth in behavior to draw political power, or simply be too inconvenient as we fight for middle-class ambitions.

I know addressing disability is difficult. I know the problems that come with homelessness won’t be solved overnight, and that they have been here for far longer than I have lived. But this part and parcel political philosophy of caring only for the convenient disabled people will do us no good. We will keep making the circle of respectable disabled people smaller and smaller until eventually no one will matter but the elites. And take it from someone who was considered homeless for quite some time: that attitude will save nobody in the long-run.

It is favoritism disguised under politics, ableism under the banner of civility, and injustice calling itself charity. And I think we are at a point where our politics needs to care for all of us, even the most “inconvenient” of us.


Rooted in Rights exists to amplify the perspectives of the disability community. Blog posts and storyteller videos that we publish and content we re-share on social media do not necessarily reflect the opinions or values of Rooted in Rights nor indicate an endorsement of a program or service by Rooted in Rights. We respect and aim to reflect the diversity of opinions and experiences of the disability community. Rooted in Rights seeks to highlight discussions, not direct them. Learn more about Rooted In Rights

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Identifying as “Disabled” Brings Me Peace in a World Hostile to My Existence

A person in a wheelchair holding folders and a pen

Before I entered college, I never thought about disability. Or at least, I never thought about it with that exact word.

Mental illness. Mentally ill. Disorder. Burden.

These were all words I used to describe myself before “disabled” and “disability” became my home. Even as I struggled to seek accommodations and receive support for various mental health-related difficulties affecting my studies, “disability” as a term provided me comfort. It meant what I was dealing with was not a singular experience, and that I deserved care, whether just socially or in more concrete legal terms. Despite the difficulties I have had finding a place in disability conversations, disability has brought me peace in a world that constantly feels hostile to my existence.

As I look back on my time in college, however, I am left wondering: why did the process for obtaining accommodations feel so difficult and frustrating to navigate without prior experience? And more importantly, why did going through the process feel so alienating, as though seeking out accommodations was a public confession of weakness?

The answer is two-fold, relying on two underlying issues with how disability operates systematically in higher education.

The first issue arises from the fact that many higher education settings do not provide adequate administrative support for disability accommodations. Whether it is a lack of training for administrators working with disabled students or an unaddressed need for staff trained to help students with specific disabilities such as autism, many colleges are struggling with the accommodations process. Worse yet, structural concerns such as the phasing out of documents related to proper disability policy by Betsy DeVos suggest a negative future for disability accommodations. As it stands, many higher education settings do not seem poised to offer disabled students the resources and support they deserve, both now and in the future.

However, there is another larger reason for such resource allocation issues: disability simply does not register as part of worthwhile conversations when it comes to students in higher education. While that may seem overly harsh, several reported incidences say otherwise. Elite universities such as Princeton, Harvard, Yale, and Ohio State, as well as Louisiana Tech University, have recently found themselves caught up in lawsuits prompted by Americans with Disabilities Act violations regarding deaf students. First-year disabled students frequently cite difficulties with faculty and staff due to ignorance and stigma associated with their disabilities and have had difficulties obtaining permission to own needed assistance animals as well. Whether through denial of resources or social support, disabled students are prevented from receiving their proper institutional support.

Even when that support is made accessible to students, those who provide support to disabled students face their own difficulties from their respective administrations. Faculty who do provide support often receive similar dismissal of their own disability issues and stigma for not upholding bureaucratic and institutional expectations regarding how an academic should act. Rather than be in a place to provide understanding support to students, disabled academics instead have their competency questioned and their positions treated with suspicion. All across the board, disability (and by extension disabled students and academics alike) is treated as a problem which higher education is forcing itself to slowly and painfully deal with. And there is something deeply wrong with that.

I will not pretend to know a simple answer to this situation. When it comes to resource allocation, proper disability training, or creating more just social connections for disabled students, I can only guess at what may or may not improve our current state of affairs. For larger issues such as the recent rescinding of guidelines for disability policy, that will require more than simply one person speaking out into the void. To meet such difficulties requires many to unite together and deny such injustice a continued place in higher education. However, what I can say must happen for things to improve is a new focus. What we require is humanity.

But not the flawed, superficial view of humanity that has allowed much of higher education to arrive at this point. What is required is a richer view of humanity that stops treating disability as a mere addendum to a pure, untainted sense of humanity which is superior to disabled life. Instead, disability must occupy the same space which race, gender, sexuality, class, and other identity categories have in weaving together to form the rich tapestry of life that is being human. Disability can prompt difficulties, yes, and often comes with its own unique hardships that can be distinct from other identity categories. Nevertheless, it mixes and forms the same font of possibility for goodness and safety that all other areas of life can provide.

So much so that, after years of self-loathing and feeling oneself a burden, it can provide home for someone that has always felt alone in a world so hostile to her existence.

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Rooted in Rights exists to amplify the perspectives of the disability community. Blog posts and storyteller videos that we publish and content we re-share on social media do not necessarily reflect the opinions or values of Rooted in Rights nor indicate an endorsement of a program or service by Rooted in Rights. We respect and aim to reflect the diversity of opinions and experiences of the disability community. Rooted in Rights seeks to highlight discussions, not direct them. Learn more about Rooted In Rights

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Students With Mental Health Disabilities Are Not a Burden

Four students sit at desks, one rests their head on their desk and the others rest their heads in their hands.

Halfway through my time in college, I found myself wondering whether I should bother returning to therapy, either on or off-campus. Despite having studied psychology for a few years and having previously seen a therapist on campus, I felt apprehensive about seeking out counseling services once more.

Would my professors be receptive to my mental health concerns?

Would administrative staff be alarmed by me dealing with depression, anxiety, and violent thoughts of self-harm and see me as a threat to others?

Would fellow students see me as a potential threat?

All of these thoughts ran through my head as I struggled to keep myself afloat amidst the microaggressions, and general stresses of living on a prestigious university campus. That is, until the institutionalization happened.

You see, halfway through my college years the student population was forced to live through a dreadful incident where a student was forcibly placed on psychiatric hold per the suggestion of our college’s administrative personnel. The student was cited as a “threat to self and others” and deemed unfit to return and live on campus, despite needing to finish classes and lacking any alternative housing due to uneasy family relations. As much as the university had previously recommended both its counseling services and for students to get help during mental health crises, this incident flew entirely in the face of those statements. Not only had the student been forcibly removed against her will from campus but she now faced being deprived of her main sources of on-campus support because she was deemed a liability.

Having been involved in the backlash following the incident, I found myself consumed with a new set of worries:

How many of us currently dealing with mental health issues would be placed on hold next if we went public with our concerns?

How many of us who had gone on a “leave of absence” were going to return and be deemed fit to study on campus again?

And finally, was this the only response we could expect from the administration for reacting so strongly to a stressful campus climate?

As paranoid as these concerns felt at the time, recent administrative actions taken by US universities indicate these worries were not ill-founded. Despite the fact that there has been a substantial increase in college students facing mental health issues (and accompanying concerns such as self-injurious behavior and suicidal thoughts), universities are not keeping up. While the past decade has seen an increase in student populations seeking counseling and associated psychiatric services, universities are not devoting a similar increase in resources dedicated to providing such services. Worse yet, college administrations have begun enacting a different course of action for students with mental health issues that is setting a dangerous precedent for higher education: mandatory leaves of absence.

Whether the context is Stanford University revoking housing for a student attempting to commit suicide in 2013, Quinnipiac University placing a student on medical leave for seeking counseling for depression, or any number of UK universities adopting “unfit to study” provisions to remove students from campus, mandatory leave is becoming the go-to for handling mental health in university settings. Rather than addressing the issues students face on campus or considering additional resources needed for disability concerns, universities are instead treating students with mental health disabilities as problems to be expediently dealt with. In essence, students are being placed in direct opposition to the interests of university administrations and deemed unfit as potential future academics.

Looking past the various violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the stigmatizing effect such an approach has on future students seeking counseling resources , I can’t help but feel this recent trend towards enforcing mandatory leave is a self-defeating one. For all the claims these prestigious universities make to attract the best and brightest students, removing a substantial portion of the population who may go on to influence several academic fields simply because they cannot handle the stresses of campus life seems unfair at best and ableist to the core. Students have a variety of needs and a uniform approach to each one’s concerns (academic, mental health, or otherwise) does not make for a practical strategy.

Furthermore, given how much more diverse college student populations are and will be in the future, the use of mandatory leave policies for those with mental health issues reeks of a classist, discriminatory approach that cements the most privileged as deserving mental healthcare. If only those who can perform able-mindedness correctly will be allowed a space in universities without the risk of administrative violence, who in fact are universities affirming as worthy of being an academic with a disabilit(y)ies?

I have a shred of sympathy for universities and the staggering load of cases they face with more students presenting with mental health issues. Without proper funding, universities will struggle to keep up with the various needs students have, particularly if those students have never sought counseling before. However, treating students as a burden to deal with is not the way to handle inadequate resources. Neither is denying responsibility for the structural factors which the university itself encourages (such as ignoring microaggressions and toxic academic standards) that prompt mental health problems in the first place. It does a disservice to the university and a larger injustice to the students as a result.

It has been years since I feared what my administration would do to me if I sought counseling for my several mental health disabilities. In the years since I have worried about what harm has befallen those like me who didn’t seek counseling for fear of removal from campus, institutionalization, or other administrative violence. I can only hope that should higher education change its approach to enforcing mandatory leave, it will be for the betterment of the students. Otherwise, we are going to carry on with a culture of fear regarding mental health that will make higher education all but impossible for those with mental health disabilities to live through.

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Rooted in Rights exists to amplify the perspectives of the disability community. Blog posts and storyteller videos that we publish and content we re-share on social media do not necessarily reflect the opinions or values of Rooted in Rights nor indicate an endorsement of a program or service by Rooted in Rights. We respect and aim to reflect the diversity of opinions and experiences of the disability community. Rooted in Rights seeks to highlight discussions, not direct them. Learn more about Rooted In Rights

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Anti-Stigma Mental Health Campaigns Often Ignore Our Realities

A watercolor painting of a person painted in rainbow colors sitting on a the edge of a cliff.

I have to be honest: I am not a fan of anti-stigma campaigns. Or, at least, not the way the campaigns are normally run. Let me explain why:

I am forever grateful to live in a time where openness about mental health issues is being received more positively. I can’t count how often I’ve heard discussion of self-care and compassion for one another’s struggles come out of communities I belong to, especially from folks younger than me. While the conversations can often hit roadblocks related to how to better communicate feelings and complex problems, they are a far cry from times where I felt it was impossible to speak about mental health without fear of judgment. This is a heartening sign.

However, I think these conversations also highlight one of two major reasons why I dislike how anti-stigma campaigns typically operate: they are highly focused on the individual and not their surrounding circumstances.

When I found myself post-college without consistent housing, all of my available funds suddenly had to be diverted to scraping together enough rent and some form of groceries. Any hopes I had for continuing therapy were immediately dashed when I realized could no longer afford it. Whether it was lack of transit to physically reach therapists or financial insecurity making therapy sessions too expensive, therapy was no longer an option for me. Even now, I can only access therapy because of free, local services offered by a sexual assault survivor center.

Because of these experiences, I can’t help but also think of the other Queer and Trans people of color (QTPOC) who are struggling to find affordable therapy services. For QTPOC searching for therapy services near them, a lack of insurance and accessible transportation can make or break any hopes of processing trauma in therapy. Furthermore, considering how often I have heard many of them discuss racism and sexism they experience from practitioners coming from such a white-dominated healthcare sector, I can’t help but feel many anti-stigma campaign promises come off as insincere. Highlighting that therapy and discussing one’s mental health can be healing while not acknowledging how inaccessible these services can be is not only disingenuous, but downright immoral in my eyes.

Moreover, the takeaways from anti-stigma campaigns are framed around personal responsibility and vulnerability in place of structural transformation. These campaigns often suggest that if only attitudes regarding mental health were to change, people would find themselves more receptive to mental health services and treatment as a whole.

Ignore the fact that many people experience discrimination through the lens of stigma from a variety of institutional factors such as racism, sexism, inadequate housing, poverty, and more.

Ignore the fact that much recent research has indicated that mental health issues are strongly connected to a variety of life circumstances such as child abuse, domestic violence, unemployment, loss, etc.

Ignore the fact that if healthcare services, which currently are not receiving much needed funding, receive more patients than they will be even more incapable of providing needed healthcare.

Simply change people’s attitudes and things will be just fine.

My frustration with these campaigns, at its core, comes from how infrequently they do justice to the lives and needs of those with mental health/psychiatric disabilities. To be clear, reducing stigma should be addressed as it has very real effects on people’s willingness to disclose their issues and seek treatment. However, these campaigns strike me as done by either those desiring to be saviors for “poor, mentally ill souls” or those who have experienced mental health issues without acknowledging the impact of societal factors. It is dehumanizing, pitying, and runs a very damaging risk of misinforming others on the needs of marginalized people with (mental health) disabilities without listening to us in full. We deserve better than this and it is time stigma campaigns do better by us.

We deserve anti-stigma campaigns that address the structural components of psychiatrically disabled lives, not simply attitudes towards those socially deemed mentally ill.

We deserve anti-stigma campaigns that work through political measures to address the complex needs of those with mental health issues as disabled people, not to promote a tokenizing attitude toward us that denies a normalization of our full humanity.

Ultimately, I share writer Catia Malaquias’ view that how we as a society treat our most marginalized says more about us than how we treat those already being taken care of and, as it stands, we are providing inadequate care to those with mental health issues. We deserve better than to be remembered as an inconvenience rather than as someone not only with differing needs but also with injustices being ignored.

Difference is a starting point of your humanity and mine. It is time our anti-stigma campaigns acknowledge that rich humanity.

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Rooted in Rights exists to amplify the perspectives of the disability community. Blog posts and storyteller videos that we publish and content we re-share on social media do not necessarily reflect the opinions or values of Rooted in Rights nor indicate an endorsement of a program or service by Rooted in Rights. We respect and aim to reflect the diversity of opinions and experiences of the disability community. Rooted in Rights seeks to highlight discussions, not direct them. Learn more about Rooted In Rights

Click here to pitch a blog post to Rooted in Rights.