Letter to My Representatives on Graham-Cassidy

Graham-Cassidy is a Medicaid abolition bill. It destroys Medicaid as we know it. It cuts up the safety net into 50 pieces and distributes those shreds to the states. The tatters get smaller and smaller each year until there is nothing left. Nothing left for my children or my grandchildren. Nothing.

Capping Medicaid hurts children with disabilities (such as my own), seniors, Medicaid expansion states, and even victims of natural disasters such as those affected by Harvey in our very own state. What does this preoccupation with destroying Medicaid have to do with stabilizing insurance markets?

This bill upends the bipartisan progress of the past couple weeks. The ACA should be stabilized with a transparent process through regular order. Join the process led by Senators Alexander and Murray. Reject Graham-Cassidy if it comes to a vote.

Letter to My Representatives on HR 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act

I am writing in opposition to HR620, the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017. HR620 further shifts the burden of compliance from businesses to disabled people. We disabled folks are expected to be civil rights lawyers laboriously advancing the public interest, whereas businesses and even public education are excused again and again for thoughtless non-compliance.

The ADA has been the law of the land for three decades, yet most businesses are still inaccessible. Even those that claim accessibility have done a half-assed job. They fail to meet the lowest bars of empathy and compassion. There is absolutely no excuse for this. None. Accessibility is not that hard. After 30 years, those still running inaccessible businesses do not deserve any more time or benefit of the doubt. Hold them accountable, and stop putting legal obstacles in the way of disabled folks trying to create a more inclusive society. We face enough obstacles at businesses and public spaces that have decided 20% of the population doesn’t matter.

My money and time are where my mouth is. Over the past twelve years, my company has grown from four to over six hundred people. We are committed to accessibility in our products and facilities. Thoughtful, accessible design benefits our employees and our customers. We should be designing for real life instead of excusing exclusion. Everyone doing business is responsible for doing so inclusively.

The social model of disability is essential knowledge for anyone providing goods and services to other people. This is basic business ethics. HR620 is ethical erosion in an environment of already poor business ethics. This is a bad signal to business owners. We’ve had decades to get our act together and have largely failed to do so.

The politics of resentment have turned the ADA into a means of vilifying marginalized people instead of promoting the accessibility that has brought us the biological pluralism of curb cuts, family bathrooms, and accessible public transportation. HR620 is more resentment. Oppose it. Instead, embrace the social model for both minds and bodies. It is good for business and society. An accessible society is more productive, resilient, joyful, and humane. The investments required of each business are trivial compared to the benefits.

Letter to my Representatives on Trump and Confederate Romanticism

With his latest tweets, President Trump openly wraps Confederate romanticism and slavery apologia in a full frontal embrace. Are you with him? If not, establish distance with outspoken condemnation. Subtweets are craven and insufficient.

Many white families are calling out their bigoted members, mine included. This is a time of reckoning with white resentment and grievance. This is a time of reckoning for the politicians those bigoted family members elected.

So, are you with President Trump? Are you with this Nazi sympathizer lost in reverie of a despicable past? With an anguished nation, we watch for your response.

Letter to My Representatives on Charlottesville, Bannon, Gorka, and Miller

Thank you for speaking out on the events in Charlottesville. Our country is grappling for its soul. We are rotting from within. Three of our biggest festering wounds are in the White House. Bannon, Gorka, and Miller are open and avowed bigots who feature prominently in the minds and rhetoric of the Nazis and supremacists we see gathered in Charlottesville. We need only look at sites like Storm Front and the Daily Stormer to see what their presence in the White House and their proximity to POTUS means to these hateful groups. Bannon, Gorka, and Miller share vocabulary, mindset, and goals with these groups. These three men do not belong in the White House. Please use your power and influence to see them dismissed and discredited. This is a necessary act of healing as we mourn the loss of a fellow citizen peacefully exercising her rights and duties. She was run down by someone who saw her as less than human. This mentality of dehumanization is bolstered and metastasized from on high. Remove them before more die.

Letter to My Representatives on Trumpcare #6

A shared refrain in the persecution of disabled and transgender folks by the Trump administration and the GOP is that our bodies are too expensive to care for. Such zero-sum thinking stirs hate and resentment against us. The ableist and bigoted vocabulary of Trumpism hangs a target on the most vulnerable, including my kids.

Our family is a “special needs”, “special ed” family. The term “special” causes a lot of harm. It is an ableist term that fuels segregation and grievance. I see it used against disabled and transgender people by folks who think something is being taken away from them when disability and transgender rights are recognized. Special is used as a dirty word to suggest someone is being treated as more than equal, when in reality special means segregation, societal exclusion, abuse, and inferior services. We in the disability community see this usage all too often. This piece gathers writing on the subject from neurodiversity and disability self-advocates:

https://boren.blog/2017/07/24/the-segregation-of-special/

After POTUS tweeted about transgender folks in the military, I noticed a rise in the use of “special” accompanied by appeals to a perverted notion of equality that erases disabled and transgender people, effectively telling us to shut up and die.

Equality is not when everyone gets the same thing. It’s when everyone gets what they need. Disabled and transgender people aren’t trying to take away anyone’s Medicaid, or anything else; the GOP is.

The GOP is encouraging hateful rhetoric that labels disabled and transgender people as “special” and “burdens”. Disabled people hear “burden” a lot. “Burden” rhetoric is one of the ugliest forms of ableism, and POTUS and the GOP are promoting it. This is eugenicist language. For a sense of what this language can do to a population, read up on the history of autistic people during WWII in the book NeuroTribes.

http://stevesilberman.com/book/neurotribes/

Eugenics kills the neurodiversity that has made modernity possible. When we cull minds, we cull our possibilities. Without autistic, ADHD, dyslexic, and queer minds, we are lesser.

Don’t sell a healthcare bill that most of America doesn’t want by throwing disabled and transgender folks under a bus of ableism and bigotry. Stop coming at “the least of us” with evangelicalism and providentialism that we reject as un-American, anti-democratic, and morally impoverished.