Performative Disability

Tomorrow is my disability hearing.

I’ve been rejected twice by mail, so this time I get to say my piece in front of a judge who has never met me before.

Can you hear my heart beating? Because you should, since it’s been pounding all damn day.  A friend was sweet enough to take me out for lunch and a new top and still I’m scared.  This has been part of my stress load that has gotten bigger and bigger and now it’s taken over my brain.

But I didn’t come here to whine about that.  I came to whine about the crap you have to go through to “prove” your disability.

I’ve asked for advice as to what to wear and what and who I can bring with me.  From what I can suss out, it boils down to this:

  • No makeup
  • No jewelry
  • Don’t dress “too nice”
  • Don’t dress like a slob
  • Bring your cane
  • Don’t over-exaggerate your illness
  • Personal statements and statements from others might help
  • Personal statements and statements from others might hurt my case
  • Bringing someone for emotional support might help
  • Bringing someone for emotional support might hurt my case
  • Take your meds
  • Don’t take your meds

It’s a river of bullshit and I’ve got no paddle.  Fuck, I’ve got no boat. Here’s the problem:

  • I wear make up once a week and during conferences (and look damn good in it)
  • I love my jewelry pieces; hell, I want to learn how to make my own
  • I don’t leave the house often enough to wear more than sweats
  • When I do leave the house, I like to dress ‘nice’.
  • Going around the block doesn’t require my cane.

And so on.  So, in order to ‘prove’ that I am not able to work, I have to perform this ideal of the perfect “disabled” person; Helpless, Despondent, Broke.  And while I have these moments a lot, especially the Broke, it’s at different levels at different days. Some days I can stay awake all day and get shit done, and some days I’m in bed napping all day because I’m too tired/in paid/depressed/some combo of the three to get up.  That doesn’t mean that I can do a 40 hour a week, or 20 hour a week or 10 hours a week.  Shit, I haven’t escorted since last fall and that’s 1.5 hours once a damn week.

But I have to put on the costume of the perfect disabled person tomorrow and plead my case.  I hate it.  I hate that my future is being decided on how well I play this game.  I’ve made it this far, after two tries through the mail without giving up.  I have legal help which have been helping me and will be there with me.  They want to catch the frauds so badly that the process is that fucking complicated and long. I’ve waited two years for this.  I was told to expect to be rejected with the first application, because “they always reject the first one”.  What a damn game they try to make us play.

So, here goes nothing. On with the show.

Photo by warrenski

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Performative Disability

4 thoughts on “Performative Disability

  1. 3

    “But I have to put on the costume of the perfect disabled person tomorrow and plead my case. I hate it. I hate that my future is being decided on how well I play this game.”

    You’re playing a game by rules you didn’t write and can’t change. Do what you have to do.

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