Texas Republicans Suppress the Crip Vote and Prescribe Forced Intimacy

Today, as Texas Republicans are advancing SB 7, legislation that directly targets disabled voters, Fair Fight Action launched a Disability Council made up of a diverse group of disability advocates. Members include Fair Fight Action’s Dom Kelly, former Congressman Tony Coelho, Sarah Blahovec, Emily Blum, Patrick Cokley, Matthew Cortland, Colleen Flanagan, Jules Good, Claudia Gordon, Mia Ives-Rublee, Ted Jackson, Emily Ladau, Andraéa LaVant, Vilissa Thompson, Zan Thornton, Gaylon Tootle, and Tiffany Yu.

Source: Fair Fight Action Launches Disability Council, Condemns Texas Voter Suppression Bill Targeting Disabled People | Fair Fight

That’s a great roster of disability advocates. So glad to see Fair Fight including us and fighting with us to #CripTheVote.

As for what Texas Republicans are up to this time…

Further, the legislation allows partisan poll watchers to film voters who require assistance at the polls if the watcher “reasonably believes” that the assistance is unlawful, forcing disabled people to defend themselves from harmful accusations and compromising their right to privacy.

Ableist, gross, and nerve-racking. Disability policing is already frustrating and demoralizing enough. I already worry about having to defend my disability status when a poll worker escorts me and my rollator forward (on those wonderful occasions when there’s a poll worker monitoring the queue). We’re filmed for disability policing, and we’re filmed for inspiration. It’s exhausting.

These proposals in SB 7 invade the privacy of disabled voters, forcing them to provide private and deeply personal medical information in order to be able to vote with assistance.

Moar paperwork!” says the Republican penchant for government-mandated forced intimacy.

Forced intimacy is the continuous submission to patient hoodrequired to access the right to learn, work, and live differently. K-12 SpEd families, higher ed students, and workers needing accommodations regularly experience forced intimacy. Forced intimacy “chips away at your soul. Every box you tick, every sentence about your ‘impairment’ and ‘needs’ becomes part of the narrative of your identity.

Forced intimacy is a cornerstone of how ableism functions.” “Forced intimacy is the opposite of access intimacy.” “Access intimacy is that elusive, hard to describe feeling when someone else ‘gets’ your access needs.

Source: Accessibility, Access Intimacy, and Forced Intimacy – Ryan Boren

Forced intimacy in the form of more paperwork requiring intimate details. Forced intimacy in the form of vigilantes filming us vote. Ableism and inaccessibility as a result. A Big Lie of fraud as justification.

Texas Republicans consistently insert themselves into our lives and care, imposing a continuous permitting process on our existence and encouraging vigilante permit policing.

Donate to Fair Fight, and vote against Republicans.

Ableist discrimination and bigotry materialize in countless ways, but talk to anyone whose disability isn’t immediately obvious and this kind of story pops up again and again. Encounters turn bad because a random individual-sometimes in a position of official authority, other times just a meddling onlooker-decides someone is getting away with something. They cry “fraud.” They demand proof. They seek to restore order. Such incidents often result in humiliation or forced disclosure. Worse, as in Minnesota, they can spark violence and trauma.

Thousands joined the thread to share their experiences: Anyone who uses accessible parking but who doesn’t look sufficiently disabled or who only uses their wheelchair sometimes has encountered the “Good Samaritan” stranger who demands that they prove their disability. It happens a lot in parking lots, because accessible parking spaces are hotly contested proving-grounds for disability.

We need to learn to expect disability. There’s no one way to look or be disabled. When someone asks for an accommodation, believe them. If someone is behaving in an atypical way, pause to reflect whether there might be a disability-related reason. Or just lighten up. Humans are diverse. We do things in our own unique ways.

Source: When Disability Is Misdiagnosed as Bad Behavior – Pacific Standard

Previously,

Accessibility, Access Intimacy, and Forced Intimacy

These pieces on access intimacy and forced intimacy by Mia Mingus very much resonate with my experience. Forced intimacy is the continuous submission to patient hood required to access the right to learn, work, and live differently. K-12 SpEd families, higher ed students, and workers needing accommodations regularly experience forced intimacy. Forced intimacy “chips away at your soul. Every box you tick, every sentence about your ‘impairment’ and ‘needs’ becomes part of the narrative of your identity.

Forced intimacy is a cornerstone of how ableism functions.” “Forced intimacy is the opposite of access intimacy.” “Access intimacy is that elusive, hard to describe feeling when someone else ‘gets’ your access needs.” That feeling is rare in the abundantly ableist medical and deficit models, though I have experienced it a few times, notably with neuropsychiatrists who noticed and met my sensory needs with a quiet, no-big-deal attitude. They understood that compassion and good user experience make for better data and better outcomes.

My moments of access intimacy are accompanied by floods of relief. The usual mountain of anxiety, miscommunication, and empathy gaps need not be scaled. “Your body relaxes and opens up with someone when all your access needs are being met.

My most profound moments of access intimacy are when I meet an educator or healthcare worker conversant in neurodiversity and the social model of disability and respectful of identity-first language.

Treating my identity not as a disorder, but as a difference, one that matters in helping me and understanding me, is powerful compassion that makes for access intimacy.

Selected quotes:

There are many ways to describe intimacy. For example, there’s physical intimacy, emotional intimacy, intellectual, political, familial or sexual intimacy. But, as a physically disabled woman, there is another kind of intimacy I have been struggling to name and describe, what I have been calling “access intimacy.”

I have begun using the term loosely and am still realizing different aspects of it. This is in no way a complete describing of it, instead, this is an initial naming and the beginnings of giving it shape. I am offering it as something that has been useful for me and I hope is useful to others to describe all different kinds of access, not just in relation to disability. I think Access, as a framework, is powerful for so many of our lives. Here, I am speaking from my own lived experience as a physically disabled person but I know access intimacy can also happen in many different ways for mamas and parents, women of color, queer and trans folks, etc… Anyone can experience access intimacy.

Access intimacy is that elusive, hard to describe feeling when someone else “gets” your access needs. The kind of eerie comfort that your disabled self feels with someone on a purely access level. Sometimes it can happen with complete strangers, disabled or not, or sometimes it can be built over years. It could also be the way your body relaxes and opens up with someone when all your access needs are being met. It is not dependent on someone having a political understanding of disability, ableism or access. Some of the people I have experienced the deepest access intimacy with (especially able bodied people) have had no education or exposure to a political understanding of disability.

Access intimacy is also the intimacy I feel with many other disabled and sick people who have an automatic understanding of access needs out of our shared similar lived experience of the many different ways ableism manifests in our lives. Together, we share a kind of access intimacy that is ground-level, with no need for explanations. Instantly, we can hold the weight, emotion, logistics, isolation, trauma, fear, anxiety and pain of access. I don’t have to justify and we are able to start from a place of steel vulnerability. It doesn’t mean that our access looks the same, or that we even know what each other’s access needs are. It has taken the form of long talks into the night upon our first meeting; knowing glances shared across a room or in a group of able bodied people; or the feeling of instant familiarity to be able to ask for help or support.

Source: Access Intimacy: The Missing Link | Leaving Evidence

Forced intimacy is a cornerstone of how ableism functions in an able bodied supremacist world. Disabled people are expected to “strip down” and “show all our cards” metaphorically in order to get the basic access we need in order to survive. We are the ones who must be vulnerable-whether we want to or not-about ourselves, our bodyminds and our abilities. Forced intimacy was one of the many ways I learned that consent does not exist for my disabled asian girl bodymind. People are allowed to ask me intrusive questions about my body, make me “prove” my disability or expect me to share with them every aspect of my accessibility needs. I learned how to simultaneously shrink myself and nonconsensually open myself up as a disabled girl of color every damn day.

Forced intimacy is the opposite of access intimacy. It feels exploitative, exhausting and at times violating. Because I am physically disabled and use a manual wheelchair, I often experience forced intimacy when able bodied people push my wheelchair without my consent or when I am in situations where I have to be pushed by people I do not feel safe with, know or who are actively harassing me while pushing me. This often happens when I am traveling and have to rely on strangers for my access needs. I cannot count the number of times a strange man has pushed my wheelchair in the airport, while saying offensive and gross comments to me. These are the moments where disability, race, gender, immigration, class, age and sexuality collide together at once, indistinguishable from one another.

The contradiction of having to survive in the oppressive world you are trying to change is always complicated and dehumanizing.

Source: Forced Intimacy: An Ableist Norm | Leaving Evidence

Patient advocate and health policy attorney Erin Gilmer also writes on access intimacy.

This is the story about a doctor and nurse I once had and how they “got it.”

“Getting it” isn’t necessarily something that you can define. It’s ineffable. It’s more of a feeling than a specific action. For me, it’s a connection that runs deeper than the diagnosis, the medical terminology, the treatments proposed. It’s a sense of being listened to and really heard. It’s feeling of being truly cared for. It’s a sense of empathy or at least a willingness to immerse oneself in my world as a patient, to feel and see what I face. When I think of my doctor and nurse who “got it”, I remember the sense of safety and calm they offered me and knowing that I would be okay. To each patient surely it may mean something different. But for me “getting it” gives me the ability as a patient to breathe, and perchance even to live.

Source: The Doctor and Nurse Who “Got It” | Health as a Human Right