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Interested in more Access Culture writings, art, & non-linear expression? Check out my Tumblr page:

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Keep writing. raging. and creating.

Gratitude & ❤

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A Statement in Honor of Bed Revolutionaries: Posted for May Day/International Worker’s Day, 2014

Love to the bed revolutionaries today. To people whose communication and connection go unnoticed or dismissed— To people who do not have access to academic terms—To people who have to use the words or gestures to get by, but it’s still unfamiliar. To folks whose ideas, whose beings are left behind. To people who are left out isolated. To folks making well below poverty wages—if that. To folks who do not have social access or “social capital.” To the rowdy, fierce and ‘difficult’ ones—to the quiet and shy ones—To the outcasts of the outcasts. To survivors. To crazy folks whose realities are usually discounted. To folks who are complex, multilayered, contradictory. To folks who are multiply marginalized. To people who don’t give two shits about “cool” and know the appropriative harm of it. For folks whose families and selves have chemical injuries due to environmental racism and classism. To people whose very existence is revolutionary. This is for you today & everyday. 

*A redefinition of “work” “value” and “contribution” is much needed.*

*~Inherently valuable. Inherently worthy. Inherently bad-ass~*

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Problems With High Functioning/Low Functioning Labels: In Honor of Autism Acceptance Month.


High Functioning/Low Functioning labels serve no purpose but to incorrectly categorize people based on assumptions and stereotypes of “functionality.” “High Functioning” to me is not a compliment. It means that people are making incorrect assumptions about my abilities, strengths and challenges based on stereotypes. “High Functioning” erases struggles and therefore conveniently dismisses inquiries for assistance.

Similarly, “Low Functioning” erases one’s strengths and highlights one’s struggles therefore dismissing a person’s contributions and gifts.

But one cannot critique the whole “High Functioning/Low Functioning” mess without critiquing constructions of “functionality.” What do we mean by “functioning?” anyway? Haven’t all of our ideas of “functioning” been constructed by narrow definitions of “work” and “contribution” put in place by a multiply oppressive capitalist society?

So lets throw out the “functioning” assumptions and questions.

People aren’t machines whose bodies/minds/spirits exist to “function” in some pre-mandated way. In the end, It’s about how we want to connect on a human level.

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Autism is Not a Disease—A Poem

Autism is not a disease
Fill you with dis-ease our real, bodies aching
like yours
no longer an “other”
can’t turn your back when we’re your friends, your family, your lover.
Autism is me
Rejecting years of shame
Piled on like weights too heavy to see past your shame
Your blame is not me
Your fear is not me
I rise above your insult
Fire bird in full flight
And when….and when you finally see us human
You’ll have to look at yourself, your fear, your insecurity
Autism is not a disease
Your hate doesn’t touch, cannot damage
This body finally set free

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Disability & the Constant Threat of Isolation–Community Accountability–How you may Knowingly & Unknowlingly be Contributing to the Exclusion & Isolation of Disabled People.


 –As Disabled and Chronically Ill people, we experience extreme social isolation.  If we are not isolated in prisons or institutions, we are isolated in our own homes.  Having a Disability means knowing the threat or reality of complete isolation is always present.  It is a lingering fear, a constant re-traumatizing ever-triggering fact of life that we have all been taught to swallow so well.  We’ve been taught that being alone is just another fact—a “consequence” of being poor, disabled—a punishment for being oppressed.

   — As we know, isolation has been used and is still used in both the prison and medical industrial complexes as forms of corporal punishment.  All human beings need a certain amount of human connection.  Without it, one’s health is worsened, depression and anxiety become more intense, and a sense of utter hopelessness kicks in.  In other words–a certain amount of social interaction, & physical touch (for some) is necessary for survival.  When told that you cannot or should not have your basic needs met for an extended period of time, it is easy to internalize these messages—to actually believe that you do not deserve to live.  People who are oppressed and express thoughts of self-destruction are usually met with disdain and fear.  Often behaviors that appear scary or intense are the result of long-term oppression.  What we need is compassion and acknowledgement of the ways in which we have been oppressed, not further pathologization, shunning and fear. 


The Community’s Role in Fighting Isolation/Exclusion of Marginalized Groups:

–Inaccessibility is a big reason that folks are excluded from social events.  Many people just think about physical accessibility but there are many more important factors to include.  People with chemical sensitivities need fragrance-free and scent-free spaces.  People with sensory sensitivities need sensory-friendly environments. For more info, check out: ,,  & (to name a few).

–Changing Attitudinal biases/beliefs:  Many neurodiverse folks (including Autistic folks or folks labeled with psychiatric diagnoses) have been criminalized and excluded from events due to misconceptions, bias, and fear.  In order to create lasting, deep change we must look at how our own attitudes and actions lead to exclusion of marginalized folks.  We must understand how exclusion/isolation is a form of systemic oppression/abuse and make sure we are not complicit in maintaining these systems. How can we do this? On-site peer counselors, sensory-friendly chill spaces, non-judgmental, inclusive spaces with folks who do not assume that just because someone does not share their reality, doesn’t mean it’s less real.

–Assumptions about class-background/access to resources:  Living in a very class-privileged city, this is very apparent to me.  A lot of events cost money—20 bucks may not be a lot to someone who has employment-privilege but it is a lot for those of us surviving on social security or welfare.  The most marginalized folks are usually excluded from community events because they cost too much and this excludes/isolates Poor folks.  How can we accomplish this? Sliding-scale or pay-what-you-can events, free rides or accessible car-shares.  Offer rides to the most isolated folks in your communities, offer rides to the unpopular folks, the excluded folks, the nerds, the weirdos, the outcasts.  Lets undo the oppressive popularity game.

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How to Survive Heartbreak

Let the sea salt of your tears wash over you like holy water
your body cries out in pain of the memory of sacred lover’s embrace
Let your own hands replace theirs, and they will create new images with paint-brush fingers on the surface of your skin

Reject the shame of not-knowing of not-doing, let the raw ugly roar of your humanness be messy and free
Know that love is not lost, it is not gone–it is a constant force–coursing through your veins–fire fuel for stars–illuminating the cosmos
Love your heart–let it break open again and again–it is a powerful instrument–it will be filled with even more love next time
Let your hands in prayer position seek wisdom from the sky, from the universe, from angels and ancestors–you will be surrounded by this deep understanding, and endless soothing
Know that you are not alone–you are god-like beauty seeking truth–learning from mistakes

Scream and cry until you know your true voice
You were never shame, your heart has gold-wings
Let this divine truth embrace you and lead you home

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“When I’m not there I’m still Here: Redefining ‘Contribution’ and ‘Value.’ “

I’m Chronically Ill and Disabled.  I’m an Activist.  I’m a student and I miss school for days at a time because I get sick.  A lot of the work I’ve done has been unpaid or underpaid and therefore undervalued.  Over the years, I’ve encountered many folks who believe that I cannot be an “effective” activist if I’m not physically present at events and actions.  I challenge people to question definitions of “effective” and “valuable.”  We must also deconstruct the term “productive.” Such terms have historically been used to discount the contributions of marginalized people.  These terms are also used to create and maintain hierarchies–if we can establish whose contributions are most “valuable” & which people are “valuable” then oppression is justified–and abuse is justified–and dehumanization is justified.  Also, it’s becoming more apparent to many–as we move toward an online world–that physical presence is not necessary to make an impact, to create change.

So–If most of our daily activities happen online why do some people still uphold physical contribution over all other (and equally important) forms of contribution?  Why aren’t human beings viewed as inherently valid–as contributing just by existing?

Because institutions and businesses are threatened by this.  In fact, the entire system is threatened because we threaten the current value system that equates physical presence & contribution with some kind of quantifiable exchange.

Capitalism wants us to believe that the most real contributions come from physically participating–physical presence. for those of us who cannot be physically present–our contributions are often discounted or down played.  Ultimately, all contributions are valid because all beings are inherently valuable.  This is something that radically reshapes the value system we’ve been taught. The more we recognize ALL contributions, the more the idea of power shifts–it’s no longer completely externalized–it’s internal and complex–and constantly shifting and changing form.  Ultimately, it is more difficult to control people who are in touch with their inherent power.

As I write this, I realize that it’s sending ripples of change out there–& no matter how small the effect is, it is still an effect.  It is still a contribution and it is just as meaningful.

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How to be an Ally to Disabled & Neurodiverse Folks in Activist & Academic Communities:

**Note:  This is based on my own  experience as a multiply marginalized Disabled, Trans, Queer, Autistic activist. In compiling this list, I consulted other Disabled activists as well. Most activism I’ve been involved with has taken place in  Queer activist & academic communities. I’ve been both a grass-roots activist and a student activist. I do not claim to speak on behalf of Neurodiverse or Disabled folks–or any group for that matter.  Here are a few ideas I’ve compiled on how to be a better Ally to folks who have been left out of social and political movements/communities:

–Make your events/social gatherings accessible. Disabled, Neurodiverse, & Chronically Ill folks are frequently excluded from community building spaces.  This means that Disabled folks are often isolated.  Extreme isolation is still used as corporal punishment in the medical-prison-industrial-complex.  Isolation is a form of cultural abuse and the consequences are severe—they lead to trauma, depression, hopelessness, among other things.  To be truly radical means including the most isolated and silenced folks.   Accessibility means you wish to include us—it is a warm embrace, it means you value and care about our well-being and safety.  Accessibility includes (& is not limited to):  wheelchair ramps,  accessible elevators,  gender-neutral & accessible bathrooms, having events near bus lines, scent-free spaces, interpreters, sensory-friendly events (no fluorescent lighting, no pressure to socialize, quiet, “echo free” spaces, etc.), captioning, alcohol & smoke-free events, couches near the dance floor, events that are not too early/late during the day, childcare options.

–Understand intellectual privilege.  Know that IQ has been used as an oppressive means of social control & was once enforced by proponents of the eugenics movement.  Additionally, academia appropriates the struggles of marginalized groups.  Resistance started in the streets by Disabled folks, Queer folks, Trans folks, Poor folks, & Folks of Color–Folks who experienced oppression on many different levels. Emphasizing intellectualism (intellectual privilege) reinforces the idea that folks should conform to one form of intelligence—that is, the “intelligence” as defined in white, able-bodied, elite, academic settings.  Acknowledge that there are many forms of intelligence, that people are beautiful & amazing regardless of perceived intelligence.  Make a point to include all folks.  We all have something valuable to contribute.

–Embrace different forms of communication: not everyone can or wishes to communicate verbally. Some folks prefer to communicate non-verbally, some people communicate with their bodies.  Accept that there are people who do not want to communicate, touch, or engage socially as much as you do.  This does not mean that we care less or dislike you—it simply means that we connect in ways that you may be unfamiliar with.  Try not to make assumptions about eye contact or body language.  Always ask before touching someone.  Never force eye-contact. Value the contributions of shy, introverts—not just the extroverts!

–Avoid using stereotypes to ask about someone’s Disability.  For instance, when I tell people I’m Autistic many folks think they’re trying to help by mentioning Temple Grandin or the Rain Man.  Assumptions and stereotypes can be harmful and offensive.  Never ever assume that it’s our role to educate you about our Disabilities.

–Avoid the “What do you do?” question.    Recognize that not everyone can find accessible employment. This question often makes folks who are not employed feel  left out.  Many people deal with internalized classism & ableism b/c they do not work.  Recognize the privileges that accompany employment—social connection, higher income, sometimes health insurance.  Many folks who are on social security are paid very little—we’re talking around $650 a month.  Folks on Disability are frequently surveillanced and punished when they try to find accessible employment.  Just because folks are on Disability does not mean they’re lazy or unmotivated.  It means the system is ridiculously complex and oppressive.

–Deconstruct the politics of desire. I will write more about this in terms of how it relates to dating in another post.  However, deconstructing the politics of desire is completely necessary in building inclusive movements.  The politics of desire shape who we include and who we exclude. The folks who are most usually in the “spotlight” in our communities benefit from white privilege, attractiveness (or “body”) privilege, able-bodied privilege, class privilege.  Body/attractiveness privilege means folks more closely fit in to the dominant construction of attractivenenes/beauty.  Though there are exceptions of course, we must constantly deconstruct the politics of desire in our communities so we can pay attention to who is excluded and determine if the folks we’re excluding are because they lack certain privileges. As I write this, I acknowledge that I also benefit from privileges that provide me greater access to spaces and communities. *The flip-side of desxualization is fetishization/tokenization which is not ok either.  The politics of desire run deeper than just “sex” or “sexuality” and is about how we view folks as full people.

Desire is very complex and it is also socialized.  The most “desirable”—often white, class privileged, thin, cisgender, able-bodied people are included while  “less desirable” folks (folks who fall out of the normative construction of desire) are excluded.  Disabled people are often still regarded as non-sexual beings.   Classifying an entire group as non-sexual robs us of our humanity.  Desexualization a form of dehumanization and cultural abuse.*  Though desire is complex, it is important to recognize the ways in which we’ve been taught who is beautiful and who is not and how “beauty” is used to create hierarchies and oppress those who don’t “fit in.”  Disabled folks , Poor folks, and Gender non-conforming folks (within Trans communities: Trans Women are excluded), & Fat folks are frequently left out of social & activist circles. Less “desirable” is so often equated with less “cool/hip.”  We as a community need to deconstruct the ways in which we love and connect.  Examining the politics of desire is crucial in creating a culture of inclusion.

*For more information on Desexualization as it relates to dating, check out “Dating from the Margins: Desexualizing and Cultural Abuse:”

–Check your ableist language.   For examples of ableist language (& why we shouldn’t use it) check out this blog:

–Confront “social capital” mindsets. Social capital means that your “position” in society.  It is most often associated with class privilege.  People with more class privilege typically have access to more power and social connections because of their privileges.  Disabled people are often poor and isolated and therefore have less social capital.  Because of inaccessibility, we often do not have access to spaces where social connections are formed. We must work hard to include folks who do not have access to social spaces.

We have all been taught that more social connections=better. Who are we leaving out when we make social connections? What are these social connections based on?   Capitalism tells us that the more people we surround ourselves with who have greater access to “power” (read: resources, social capital) the more “power” we will have.  This mindset is oppressive, reinforces the capitalist mindset, and excludes the most isolated and marginalized folks in our communities.

–Redefine “Value.”  People are no less “valuable” or important if they are not physically present in activist movements. It just means that society is inaccessible and sometimes it’s impossible for someone to be physically present. We can all work to undo this—accessibile, scent-free spaces, thinking beyond physical accessibility, offering rides, helping with bus fare.  We can redefine “value” as something that is inherent–that we are valuable because of who we are, not what we do.  This helps fight the oppressive Capitalist “value” system. We can work together to build more inclusive movements.

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Creating a Culture of Inclusion: The Power of Accessible Spaces. Opening Notes.


Accessible spaces for individuals who are marginalized–who are subjected to abuse on many levels–symbolize an opening, a release, freedom. An open space is an open embrace. For those of us who live on the margins of the margins, who have to fight to prove our existences, who are excluded from movements, who are subjected to abuse in the form of isolation, having access to spaces means having access to community–to connection–to existence.

When we make spaces accessible, when we build movements based on inclusion—we are acknowledging that each person is inherently valuable and our existence is beautiful and necessary.


Creating accessible spaces means acknowledging that connection is necessary—that community is necessary–that our culture has been built on the myth of separateness—the lie of disconnection.  We must move from independence to interdependence in order to transform society.

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