By name preferably! Fran will do, but I answer to most things. I’ve also been called most things, not all of them pleasant either.
Joking aside though, I’m pretty thick-skinned – these broad shoulders hold me in good stead. Why then, when someone refers to me as disabled, do I get defensive? Feel almost insulted?
I refer particularly to a recent conversation with a work colleague. A lovely chap he is, but when he referred to me as being disabled the other day I took exception. My snappy retort of “I’m not disabled” was met with “well, what do I refer to you as then?”. Ermmmmm, “Fran? That’s my name?”. I still can’t get my head around the fact that he would need to refer to me as anything other than me?
Yes, I have a disability, but am I disabled? Nah, not at all. If anything, it’s society that disables those of us with a disability. Let’s take the blue badge scheme as an example. Now many of you won’t know this, but to be entitled to a blue badge I’d have to have two upper limb disabilities. Yup – you heard that right. My major ball-ache is shopping, bags, trollies, anything that uses my only functioning arm, meaning I have no free arm to do things like open a door or hold my daughters hand – oh yeah, and push a wonky-wheeled trolley half way across a car park with kids in tow because I’m not allowed to park in an accessibility space.
You see, although I only have one arm, I definitely do not see myself as disabled. Yes, I may have a disability, but it doesn’t disable me – I don’t let it. And I’m damned if I’m going to let it define me either.
So, if I don’t label myself, or pigeon-hole myself – why should others? Those of us with a disability are still people. We are not our disability. Our disability does not define us.