Joey K

Dear Disability March,

My name is Joey and I have never felt so trapped as I do right now.

The Achilles tendons I was born with were too tight and too short, and as a result I have walked on my toes since I was able to walk. It’s left me w1ith chronic pain in my legs and feet, as well as leaving me incapable of walking or standing for long periods of time. On top of this, I am a nonbinary trans person who could, in theory, get pregnant; I am bisexual; I have mutliple mental illnesses; I’ve experienced sexual abuse; and I suspect that I might be autistic, but that my family is hiding any evidence of diagnosis from me, for fear that it would “ruin my chances.” (I plan to seek a professional opinion on that when I’ve got my own income/insurance.)

For me, the scariest part of the incoming Republican party is the fact that if the ACA/Obamacare is repealed, I stand to lose the opportunity to have health insurance. Since I became a politically aware person, I have been scared out of my mind, wondering if my problems with my legs counted as a pre-existing condition that could be used to deny me coverage. If not that, then my parents would be correct – if they are hiding an autism diagnosis from me, and it came to light, I doubt any insurance companies would have me.

As someone who might seek gender-transition services in the future, I’m terrified that my right to become my best self, and live peacefully as that best self, will be taken from me at any moment. As someone who can, in theory, get pregnant, I am beyond terrified that my rights under Roe v Wade could be overturned the instant a new Supreme Court Justice takes the bench. As someone who’s survived sexual trauma at multiple stages of my life, I fear that the way Trump and his supporters speak of sexual violence means the worst is yet to come.

I have a lot to lose under the Trump administration. Most of the people I love have more to lose, not only under the administration, but under the public attitude that Trump’s election has made acceptable. My greatest fear is that if policy changes from Trump and co. don’t throw our lives into chaos and danger, the people who voted for him will. It’s not just the prejudices in our government we need protection from, it’s the newly vocal hatred in our fellow citizens, too.

The reason I write this email now is that while I feel seriously trapped, I am lucky. The photo I included is of my legs in walking boot casts. On Tuesday, I had surgery to correct my too-short Achilles tendons. The only reason I’m not trying to march in person is because I’m on bedrest and heavy medications, trying to fix my body while there’s still time. 

I’ve felt completely trapped, because I know that the surgery recovery would prevent me from being a useful activist for a few crucial weeks to months, but that if I didn’t have the surgery now, I likely would never be able to find an insurance provider to help me through it, and I’d be useless as an activist anyway because I couldn’t handle in-person action on dysfunctional legs and a messed-up brain.

This online venue of expression is amazing. I’m thankful for the opportunity this has provided. Thank you for providing this space of expression. Be safe and be well, to all of us virtual marchers.

Thank you.

With love,

Joey K

Legs resting on an ottoman or pillow, large beige walking boot casts from the knees down.

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