This post is about Disability Day of Mourning. But before I can post about that, I need to share something else first. I promise you it will make sense when I tie it all together. (At least it makes sense in my head…)
When I think back about some of my thoughts (and comments) from a few years ago, I cringe. “Some things autistic adults say are accurate, but other things are off – WAY WAY off,” I remember saying – among other things. (I have long since recanted.) What were these things that I thought were so “off” that were being said by my fellow adult autistics? It was their remarks about parents. Over and over I read how unsupportive and even abusive parents of autistic (and other disabled) individuals were. How they couldn’t accept their children and how they created unpleasant, emotionally devastating environments for them; how disappointed they were that they child wasn’t “normal.” How little regard they had for their own children and for others with the same (or similar) diagnosis.
“Surely that’s a load of crap,” I thought. I assumed that these misguided, unsupportive parents must be “few and far between;” there was no way there could be that many “Mommie Dearest” stories. I didn’t doubt that such parents existed and I didn’t think the stories were fabricated; what I thought was a “load of crap” was that there could possibly be more than a small fraction of people in the world who were actually like that.
Such horrible families had to be the minority, I thought. My own family was not at ALL like that, and we grew up a poor, black, immigrant family in the Midwest and South. If my family could be loving and accepting, surely the majority of more “typical” families had to be, right?
How very wrong I was. And how I wish I wasn’t wrong.
I have began to lose count how many people who are “different” are disrespected, disregarded, and discarded by their “families” for the crime of not being what their parents wanted them to be. Stuck in a state institution or group home because they have “too high needs.” Kicked out of the house for revealing their gender identity or their sexual orientation, or their HIV status. The statistics on how many individuals who are chronically homeless who meet one or more of these criteria are astonishing.
But those are the lucky ones.
Because there are some even more disturbing statistics: the number of people who are murdered each year at the hands of those who are supposed to love them the most. In many cases, a member of their very own “family.” In other cases, a staff person who was charged with caring for them and entrusted with their safety. Whatever the scenario, it is still horrifying. And frequent. And unacceptable.
|Jaelen and Faith Edge, murdered by their mother|
The following quotes illustrate this situation far better than I could do on my own:
“These acts are horrific enough on their own. But they exist in the context of a larger pattern…”
|Ayahna Comb, murdered by her mother|
“The media portrays these murders as justifiable and inevitable…”
“The victim is disregarded, blamed for their own murder at the hands of the person they should have been able to trust the most, and ultimately forgotten. And then the cycle repeats.”
|Mayang Prasetyo, disabled transwoman murdered by her husband|
|Melissa Stoddard, murdered by her stepmother|
“These deaths had little to no mainstream media attention…”
“When these deaths were covered, they were often not given the respect they so deserve…”
|Yazmin Payne, disabled transwoman murdered by her partner|
|London McCabe, murdered by his mother|
“Their stories are often riddled with patronization and condescending opinions from reporters…
“Not only does the media often underreport these murders or misgender the victims, but the police often fail to make an arrest or get a solid conviction…”
|Bri Golec, transgender teen, murdered by her father|
(Quotes obtained from “Disability Day of Mourning” [ASAN] and “BreakOUT” New Orleans LGBT Youth of Color)
Enough is enough today.
Please join us on March 1st as we remember those whom society wants us to forget. Our Houston event is inclusive of all disabilities; we will honor our both our fallen trans sisters and brothers along with other individuals from the disability community who have been murdered by relatives or caregivers (update: due to inclement weather, the Houston event had to be cancelled). Across the globe we will come together in solidarity to remember their lives and to vow to preserve the lives of others. Not as separate communities, but as one. Whether at an in-person vigil or via the virtual vigil held annually, we hope you will consider joining us.