On Being Enough
I struggled a lot with allowing myself to take up space within the disabled community. It took me seeing a TikTok from @crutches_and_spice speaking to someone essentially asking for permission to identify as disabled. Imani has shared that for many, “the line between ability and disability is self-realization and claiming it for yourself.” It said a lot about my internalized ableism that I viewed disabled folks as perhaps having to look a certain way to be considered valid. Imani has explained, “if your disability affects your life, it’s a disability.”
This blended into the queer community, where I felt like I couldn’t take up space as a pansexual, trans person. A lot of that was internalized transantagonism trying to tell me that trans must look a certain way. Or that I had to have a relationship with someone other than a cisgender man to be pansexual. When I know that’s not true. That’s not the messaging I tell the kids I talk to every week with The Trevor Project. I’ve been trying to give myself permission to talk to myself the way I would a friend or the folks chatting with me on Trevor.
If you’re ever feeling like you’re not enough, I really like the advice @jarretthill shared on a recent episode of @Fantipodcast. Ask yourself, “Who told you that, and why do you believe them?” These thoughts are likely manifestations of systems of oppression weighing you down. Eliminate the word should, which comes along with an outside perspective of what something is supposed to be. You can define these terms for yourself.
Our identities aren’t set in stone, so give yourself permission to evolve and just be. And as a reminder, Imani also shares that anyone can develop a disability at any point. We need to always be building and thinking with marginalized communities in mind, whether or not we think it affects us (which it does). We shouldn’t have to be in a marginalized community to be activated around the work within it.
And even if we are part of a marginalized identity, that doesn’t mean the work is done.