When you think of disability and how to make lives more easier for disabled folk the first things that are often though of is access requirements and the truth of the matter is, that it’s a highly important thing to think of, but how do we even contact disabled people to come to events to make them accessible for them in the first place? This question is just as valid when we are talking with the trans community as well, and if you have just joined me you might think that this is a very weird tangent, but I am both trans and disabled and I need access.
There is quite a cross over in the LGBT community and disabled one. We don’t know why that is, it might have something to do with the fact that if you can be open with yourself as to who you are, it is easier to admit when you have problems. I don’t know, I’m not a scientist. But what I do know is that there is a serious feeling of alienation in both communities that needs to be addressed. There is a constant talk about how you want people to reach out and get to services and events, but there is no actual conversation on how we reach those who are most hardest to reach. Not much effort is put into it either.
The first things we can do is to research places that are already formed. I’m not talking about just buildings and physical meet up spaces but also online presence. Often where we are at home often, that is the starting out point of how to reach us. We can’t know of a thing designed for us if it’s not on a platform we would be using. Secondly, when you say you are accessible, what even does that mean to you and your venue? Accessible toilets are great, but if there is 5 steps to get in and no ramp, how is that accessible. Is there translators, does anyone know sign language? Are your staff have knowledge of autistic people. We are not demanding that you do everything, but listing off what your event and service provides is also a good place to start.
Alienation is not just an inability to access venues though. It’s a social issue as well as a mental health one. It is a feeling of hopelessness and lack of self worth. Something that has been programmed into both disabled and trans people as our entire world is designed for cisgender able bodied folk. We are reminded every day that people think we are second class citizens and it does drag us down to the point where we do not feel safe outside. The best thing to do with us is really simple. STOP DOING THAT. Each little back handed compliment and in your face insult just isn’t needed and behind those toxic thoughts and words are real people who are experiencing hell.
The final bringer of alienation is often how we behave ourselves as humans and as our own community. We all fuck up. All of our shit stinks but the queer community has a tendency to pick and choose the type of people they will “kick out” of the community and often some of the offences are nothing in comparison to the people they leave in. Life still feels like a popularity contest and trust me I’ve seen people who have been metaphorically dragged out for saying the wrong thing but the same people doing this go to venues that support racism. There are people who get shit for making a mistake due to being ill or neurodivergent but there are famous trans people who rip off hard peoples work and cause physical distress but they are left alone. Our own community is pretty fucking toxic and we need to be held accountable for the actions we do to our own peers, especially our own disabled peers. We need to pack our shit in.
Alienation is a terrible thing and we need to do everything in our power to try and stop this from happening to the most vulnerable members of society. Look after your friends and remind yourself that there are people out there that might actually need your help.