As a disabled woman with various laws in place to protect my civil rights, I have had to master self-advocacy. Some of my self-advocacy under the Americans with Disabilities and Colorado Antidiscrimination Acts, the Fair Housing Act and certain tools, have empowered me and I have been successful.
I have successfully shot down doctors trying to kick me out of their clinics, courts insisting that I appear in person when there is no accessible parking at any door into the courthouse, a community dental clinic tied into the county, county social services themselves, as the graduate student of a University putting up roadblocks between me and my MFA, and as a consumer, forcing the refund of defective merchandise in the face of being told I didn’t know what I was talking about.
I have prevailed in most cases. I have used a tool that anyone either disabled under the law or with a record and reputation of disability, should have in his or her arsenal; the option under all the referenced legislation to request and have honored said request, for a “reasonable accommodation” in order to have equal opportunity.
People often think that equality means treating everyone the same way. It does. However, sometimes in order to have parity of opportunity, a given agency, provider, establishment, physician et al, must modify their own rules, policies, and protocols.
Requesting a reasonable accommodation from someone in a position of power is quite daunting, often frightening. This is the case because that person often thinks that he or she doesn’t have to do what the law states she must do: entertain the request, only deny it if it poses an undue hardship or administrative/financial burden or fundamentally alter the nature of operations.
One example: a mobility-impaired tenant has the right to request that he or she be assigned the parking space nearest the door, regardless of whether non-disabled tenants don’t like it.
Another example: someone with disabling agrophobia cannot receive medical treatment unless she can bring her emotional support animal. The agency or practice must permit the animal even in the case of a no pets policy.
A landlord who renews the leases of long-term tenants every year must not refuse to renew the lease of a similar tenant simply because he doesn’t want her on his property anymore or thinks that she is a problem for neighbors. He must respectfully accommodate whatever it is that she has unless she poses a direct threat to herself or others, and he has the burden of proving the direct threat.
In the latter case I dropped a law suit on my landlord when he ignored my request for the accommodation and attempted to negotiate in civility. I went pro-se, looking up all of his properties at the assessor’s site, and I became a one-woman punitive machine, beating him to death with hard words. As it turned out, he lawyered up all too ironically w/ the community’s leading defense attorney, the pussy scum. I took the suit quite a ways before seeing that there are times when one is demonized and ganged up on that aren’t worth a fight. But the landlord had to shell out 6k to his big deal lawyer and I learned even more about the battle. Resistance must have teeth in it.
Without these accommodations, the disabled person cannot receive equal treatment. The accommodations make equal treatment or access possible. To obtain them is empowering.
I believe in personal power, and I believe that we all have an abundance of it. Any religion or program which tries to indoctrinate people into the idea that they cannot think for themselves or cannot function without being managed or controlled in some fundamentalist and totalitarian way, i.e. “God is in charge”– really? Then why are babies gassed and people burned alive? is not anything that I am interested in participating in.
You can guess that I might be speaking of twelve-step programs at one end of the disempowerment spectrum, and Jonestown on the other. I have nine years of freedom from the ideology and practices of Alcoholics Anonymous and from alcohol itself, and I have finally arrived to a position of independence of intellect; I believe that I belong to myself, not to “God.”
My sixteen years in AA were years of tyranny, of submersion in what my instincts tell me is true about me and about all women, all people; that with support we ourselves can overcome self-destructive behavior and any and all difficulties we present to ourselves and to others, without subordinating ourselves to any one or any thing.
I have also been therapist-free for these nine years, and I can now gladly assert that I no longer feel the tyranny of any self-anointed big shot. I have faith bred into me, but I am a secular humanist. I believe in the Big Bang and evolutionary theories and I believe in the marvelousness of all life–our gifts, how we adapt to survive, how we can grow, how we can achieve.
Today James Comey, our main hope in dislodging the unevolved orangutan of a prick we have in the White House, was fired by that person. I have felt undone all day–I have known despair and fear.
In a word, you could say that my feelings of powerlessness and incapacitation returned today–powerlessness to stop the rape of our democracy by Donald Trump who has clearly colluded with Vladimir Putin in order to get the key to the White House. He has disposed of every person who has threatened his hegemony, every time that person has gotten closer to the truths he is masking in rhetoric and distraction, via his puppets and his fellow conspirators with whom he is returning us to the nightmare of Watergate.
This man must go. He is the least American of all American presidents. It is impossible that everyone on his staff, in his sphere, including his own children, are not playing games under the table with Vladimir Putin. Not only because of who he fires, but, as noted, to the proximity of the firing to the progression in small steps of the FBI and Congressional investigations.
If I were not powerless by virtue of my mobility impairment and by my conscience, I would buy a high powered rifle and simply dispatch him from some vantage point.
This man has made shambles out of our country and nothing is certain. From counting on Medicaid for Medicare co-pays and for the county program that keeps me in my house rather than a nursing home, he is fucking with my well-being and in other ways, with all of us and our position as a democracy leading the world.
Donald Trump is cracker trash and he deserves to be hung from the rafters by his balls. Someone needs to take him out before he gets us in a war with North Korea. If there is a devil, it or he inhabits the corpulent, flatulent person of this man, whose constituents are just like him: fucking dumb. Stupid. Not patriots, not deserving of what our country gives them by birthright.
Someone who is not powerless needs to step up, to lock and load. We don’t tolerate dictators in the United States and he should get a dictator’s due.