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My disability does not define me

phoenix Community member Posts: 6 Listener
Today, in town, I was approached by a male in his 30's. He asked me what's wrong with me and numerous potential responses came to mind (ranging from it's none of your business to briefly outlining my disabilities. ) I chose the latter. His reply was this " you are so brave and inspirational" my initial thoughts were "no, I did not choose to have my disabilities. it is not a achievement and I would hope that I'm not seen as the girl in the wheelchair. This is what frustrates me,  I seem to be regarded as 'the disabled girl' and am expected to comply with societies expectation of a disabled person... completely overlooking  me as an individual. for example, I overheard a few fellow students talking about me. instead of identifying me as Phoenix, the media student with a short black hair, they said and I quote "you know who I mean, the girl in the wheelchair" I'm sure I'm not alone in experiencing this  and I am also sure they meant no offence. However, regardless of their intentions I was upset. The only reason I chose to outline my disability to the man today was for educational purposes. But he didn't understand. I used to be more tolerant of other's curiosity. my philosophy once was if it's better to ask than to come to false assumptions. But, as a 21 year old, I desire to be treated as an individual and accepted for who I am rather than my disability. rant over 


  • milo
    milo Community member Posts: 129 Pioneering
    @Pheonix,  it's always an awkward moment when dealing with those kind of questions from complete strangers.  My responses vary from a partial explanation, as you did,  to a very clear indication that that I find that kind of intrusive behaviour deeply offensive. 

    Sadly being referred to as "the one in the wheelchair" is something that many of us recognise only too well. I'd love for people to realise that for many, a wheelchair isn't the worst that can happen, that it represents freedom, mobility and independence rather than being a restriction and it certainly does not define who or what we are. 
  • phoenix
    phoenix Community member Posts: 6 Listener
    Thank you for understanding 
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