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People with Disabilities Story Collection

No one should face discrimination because of who they are. While the federal Americans with Disabilities Act protects people with disabilities from discrimination, there are no federal or statewide civil rights laws that similarly protect people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

STORIES IN THIS COLLECTION

Elizabeth Longcore
Mel Andis
Jared Price

“Two Coming Outs": On Disability and Being LGBT Elizabeth Longcore

LGBT people with disabilities often have, as Elizabeth Longcore says, “two coming outs” associated with both of their identities—for her, that’s as a lesbian woman and someone who identifies as non-neurotypical.

Elizabeth, who works with autistic children as a behavioral therapist and serves as the Director of the Global Accessibility Project—which advises the Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities—says that across our culture, disability is misunderstood and mistreated.

This is true even in the LGBT community, where most people are sensitive to issues of discrimination. Being queer and disabled, she says, means living with even more social and familial rejection, legal limitations, loss of professional opportunities, and discrimination.

“If we are truly committed to advancing civil rights protections for people that are LGBTQ, which inevitably requires the support of allies, then we must first direct our coalition-building efforts to within our own community,” she says.

“If we are truly committed to advancing civil rights protections for people that are LGBTQ, which inevitably requires the support of allies, then we must first direct our coalition-building efforts to within our own community.” –Elizabeth Longcore (above, left), with her wife and two daughters.

LGBT people can do this by “engaging in a serious dialogue that highlights the many different ways that queer culture rejects our own gatekeepers to other communities via their intersectional identities.”

And, she says, there are levels of privilege in both communities. Having an “invisible disability”—something that wouldn’t be obvious unless she volunteered the information does provide a “sense of privilege, in that I am not necessarily treated as a person with a disability.”


"People with disabilities are just like everyone else." Mel Andis

Mel Andis, who identifies as transmasculine, is gender non-binary, partially deaf and visually impaired. These disabilities require a level of accommodation that make them obvious to everyone Mel meets, a fact that leaves Mel dealing with discrimination on a regular basis.

“In my world discrimination is very hurtful because I have lost friends and people who I truly trusted and cared about because they treat me differently,” Mel says.

Mel notices this especially in trying to communicate.

“People with disabilities are just like everyone else and we deserve that right to be called what we wish and be treated like normal humans.” –Mel Andis

“One issue that I get as a deaf queer individual is that hearing people just do not understand how hard it is to hear.”

There is, though, a simple solution for able-bodied people: Just treat people living with disabilities the same way you want to be treated.

“People with disabilities are just like everyone else and we deserve that right to be called what we wish and be treated like normal humans.” –Mel Andis


"I wish people would acknowledge that we are all humans and deserving of respect." Jared Price

Jared Price, who lives with his partner Derek of 7 years in Terre Haute, is also visually impaired and has cerebral palsy. He says there’s definitely a stigma around disabilities and a severe lack of knowledge about how to treat those with disabilities.

Jared says this means people don’t really know how to approach him, and that can lead to awkward interactions.

Often, when he and Derek are together in public, people will almost always talk to Derek instead of him. Derek usually has to redirect their attention and let them know that he can speak for himself.

Jared says he has faced ableist and anti-gay discrimination—but it’s usually the perception of him as someone with a disability that affects him daily, and has led to some of the worst instances of discrimination.

“I wish that people would just acknowledge that we are all humans and deserving of respect. We all have our challenges, some are visible, others aren’t, but we’re all human and should be treated as such.” –Jared Price (above) with his service dog, Middleton

Since Jared’s gotten a service dog though—something Derek encouraged him to do—things have improved. He thinks being with Middleton makes him more approachable.

“I wish that people would just acknowledge that we are all humans and deserving of respect. We all have our challenges, some are visible, others aren’t, but we’re all human and should be treated as such.”