The month of March is often associated with St. Patrick’s Day, the first tendrils of spring, Daylight Savings Time, and March Madness for collegiate basketball. March is also Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month and I’m here to talk about this invisible illness which affects 2.3 million people worldwide. My name is Kacee Cole and I was diagnosed with MS on Christmas Day 2013, just a hair over a month after my 27th birthday. I will begin with general information about the illness, some myths and facts, and finally wrap up with my personal story with this complicated, difficult disease.
Often times, the most difficult part of solving a problem, a social problem or others, is about framing it in the right way. If you are dealing with a situation, but you misidentify the source of the conflict or barrier, then any solution becomes impossible, or at least incomplete. The same is true of discussion of disability justice and issues of equality.
Many of the conflicts that arise between abled communities and mindsets, and disabled ones step from different framings of the problem. While many different constructs and models exist, the two mainly accepted ones are the Medical Model and the Social Model.
I told myself I wouldn’t write this. I told myself this was a conversation that, quite frankly, no one outside the transgender and especially transfeminine community has any business in having. I told myself that indulging this topic at all is dangerous in a world where the idea that men and trans women have anything socially in common gets people killed. Yet here we are.
CN suicide, transmisogyny, violence
To the endless bafflement of people whose sense of ethical behavior does not include driving strangers to self-harm, the transgender community faces intense hostility. What is interesting in our case is that people with extraordinarily different overall ideologies come to equally intense hatred of transgender people in general and trans women in particular, and this makes some words we are tempted to use to encompass all of our detractors a poor fit. This brings is to that famously deadly group, the TERFs.
There is this episode of House, where the hospital hires a doctor who uses a wheelchair. As a result, House loses his parking space and is forced to relocate slightly further away. During this episode, House, the doctor in question, and Cuddy, engage in an argument over who deserves the closer spot. The audience is predisposed to assume that House is a selfish jerk, and so an important point about disability is missed by the majority of watchers – namely the way in which disabled people and different disabilities are pitted against one another in order to keep us from uniting in a way that might pose a threat to abled power structures.
The debate that takes place raises some of the many ways that disability concerns are generalized in a way that hurts some people while it helps others, and imposing an ineffectual rating system regarding what qualifies as disability and what doesn’t.
Spring seems to come earlier and earlier each year, and with it comes the increase in bike traffic. There is a lot of good that comes from bike riding. People get more exercise, less fossil fuels get used, there are good reasons to ride a bike. Bikers also deal with a lot of dangers. Most cities have insufficient bike lanes, and drivers are not taught how to handle bikers on the road. As such, there is a need for security measures to prevent fatalities and accidents. One of these methods is the use of a light to make yourself more visible to drivers.
Most of these lights have two settings – solid and flash.
In most cases people only consider their own personal safety, but there is one major problem with that. You see, those flashing light settings can be a trigger for photosensitive seizures.
I was asked to provide facilitation and a keynote address of sorts for “Violence and Trans Women of Colour: The Intersections,” an event hosted by Carleton University’s Carleton Equity Services, Graduate Students’ Association, Carleton University, and CUSA Womyn’s Centre as part of the university’s Sexual Assault Awareness Week. While my remarks during the event did not exactly match what I prepared, the original material is now here for others’ perusal.
On my Facebook memories page, I found an old Tumblr picture that includes stories from a series of girls talking about how their appendix burst because they didn’t realize the pain they were feeling wasn’t cramps. The post goes on to explain the difference between menstrual pain and appendix pain. The stories were a way for girls to discuss just how painful cramps can be – that appendicitis, which is known to be extremely painful, was not different enough from their regular menstrual pain to be noticeable.
I had shared the post, along with my commentary that the suggestion to talk to your parents or school nurse about pain, even if it was “only cramps”, ignored the reality of most people who experience menstruation who are told that they are overreacting and to suck it up. Many of us have been told that all women deal with it and that it’s not that bad. Even when my cramps would leave me shaking and with a fever, I was expected to go to class and carry on as though everything was normal. After all “every woman goes through the same thing”. (Not all women actually, and not all people who do are women, but that’s another post for another time). Continue reading “Fear of Menstruation Is Why I Can’t Walk”
In the last few months, in the torrent of emotions being experience in regards to the events of the US election and it’s follow up, one of the most frequently encountered is disbelief. In the face of all the denial of the primaries and later the election proper, everyone is trying to process how this could possibly have happened.
Laments are taking place on twitter, on Facebook, and other social media. People are trying to parse how deal breakers have suddenly stopped being deal breakers. How certain words, behaviours, and symbols have suddenly become commonplace when we remember when they were once considered vile and worthy of disgust.
On the one hand, I understand the shock, the disbelief. It’s one thing to know that things are not as great as they seem, to know how much bigotry is insinuated into the society we live in, grow up in, gain our morals in, but it is another to face the glowing orange symbol of it. On the other hand, however, there is a part of me that wants to yell at all the people crowing their disbelief: “We tried to warn you! We fucking told you this would happen and you mocked us and called us children.” Continue reading “We Tried to Warn You: We’re Still Trying”
CN: Ableism, Police Violence, Sexual Violence, etc.
Scrolling through my Facebook feed late at night, I came across a Jezebel article on the subject of the Fascist authoritarian in control of the US. In contrast to all of the serious articles going around this week, and especially this weekend after Trump triggered a constitutional crisis with a hateful law targeting Muslims and immigrants of color, the jokey nature of the headline and article stood out. It was mocking the newly sworn in president for an alleged fear of stairs.
To most people, the idea of a grown man being afraid of stairs seems silly and joke-worthy, but it made my stomach drop.
You see, in a sense, I am afraid of stairs.