Why do I bring up my disabilities when I could just like… not?

The word “disabled” makes some people uncomfortable. It’s sounds defeatist, pessimistic, and maybe even offensive. (It’s not.)

Some of my friends and loved ones cringe when I call myself disabled. They think it’s tacky, attention-grabbing, or even just inappropriate. But the fact of the matter is that I fit the definition of “disabled”: “(of a person) having a physical or mental condition that limits their movements, senses, or activities.”

I can’t walk for more than five minutes, my diet is super restricted, and if I ever get a cut or shoe blister, it 100% will get infected if I don’t dress and cover it straight away. So I feel like it’s a fair description of where I’m at.

Anyways, other friends and loved ones think, “fine, you can call yourself disabled, but you don’t need to go on about it.” I get that. No one likes someone who makes one adjective their whole identity like a bitcoin bro or Evangelical bible-thumper, but I’m not trying to make my whole personality revolve around being sick. It just so happens that I will be sick all the time.

I actually put the word “disabled” in my bios and talk about disability quite openly because doing so does the following:

1. It challenges people’s ideas of what disabled people look like

When most people think of disabled people, they think of geriatrics, amputees, or neurodivergent individuals. Invisible disabilities are often not recognised (and are sometimes even dismissed) as disabilities, even though they can be just as debilitating as visible disabilities. By looking relatively able-bodied (at least sans mobility aides), I can pass as an able-bodied person. However, by telling people I’m disabled, I’m adding another data point to their idea of what disability looks like. The more diverse the disabled community looks to people, the easier it is for disabled people to be accommodated, understood, and supported.