Aspergers is Not a Tragedy (Response to Bob Marshall)

I’m sorry I missed yesterday’s blog. I’ve gotten busier lately, between working for two to three websites per day and working on manifesting my dream of creating a television series about a family who has a transgender son. My first draft of the story had the little boy being misdiagnosed with Oppositional Defiance Disorder because his conflict over his gender identity was causing him to have meltdowns, tantrums and fights with both kids and adults. But now I think he might actually have Aspergers. I know that my Aspergers has contributed to meltdowns just as much as my being treated as a girl/woman has. He can still be misdiagnosed, I guess. But they’ll get it right as the story progresses.

Anyway, I almost didn’t write a blog tonight either because by the time I got back from Trivia Night with my writer’s group it was late, but I feel I made a commitment to everyone who’s reading my blog or who will read it in the future. You just never know who you might touch with your words. Yesterday a friend asked me for resources for her 11-year-old son, who wants to know what adults with Aspergers experience. Tomorrow somebody else may need this blog. So here I am.

The first thing I saw when I opened my email tonight was a blurb from Think Progress about an ableist, disgusting comment made by Virginia State Delegate Bob Marshall. According to Marshall, disabled children are God’s punishment for having had abortions.

I’m not even going to touch the abortion issue; I have mixed feelings about it and like everyone else have passionate feelings about abortion. It’s a side note anyway to what I want to say to Delegate Marshall. I would like to respond on behalf of not only myself but on behalf of every child with Aspergers or other hidden disabilities out there as well as all the people with not-so-hidden disabilities out there.

There is nothing wrong with being a person who has disabilities. It is not a punishment because disabled does not mean “less than.” In fact, I don’t even like that word because many of us are not disabled–we are differently abled. I might not be the most charismatic guy in the world (though having Captain Jack Harkness as my role model certainly helps me learn!) but I can read and write exceptionally well. A little boy I know is struggling with his verbal skills but his social skills are very high. There are people in wheelchairs who can speak foreign languages like native speakers. And on and on and on.

This should be obvious, and judging by the reaction to Delegate Marshall’s comment on Facebook and elsewhere, it’s obvious to most people. But it needs saying. This “disabled” person doesn’t think he is a mistake or a miscreation or something that should never have come to exist. But this “disabled” person has felt he was all of those things in the past because he thought he was alone and that nobody could understand him. Many, many people who are different in significant ways have felt that way, and some of them go beyond thinking they shouldn’t exist and do something to turn that feeling into a reality.

So I’m adding my name to the list of all the people who are disgusted by Bob Marshall’s comment. I’m saying as loud as I can: I am proud to have Aspergers and I am proud to be transgender and I am proud to be me. And if anyone out there is hurting tonight because of who they are and are thinking about ending their life, I hope reading this gives them some hope.

And to Bob Marshall I say: words can hurt and actions have consequences, and yours will stay on your conscience if even one person hurts him or herself because of your words. You might pretend you don’t care or don’t bear any responsibility but you do.

The last thing I want to say is that all of us–me included–need to look at our own behavior to make sure we aren’t expressing any sentiments similar to Bob Marshall’s. We might not believe that disability is “God’s punishment,” but how often have we said that it’s a shame that somebody has a child with autism or Down’s syndrome? How many times have we looked away or walked away because someone who was obviously disabled was walking towards us and it felt uncomfortable or we didn’t want to deal with it? How many of us who have Aspergers or other disabilities have ever used that as an excuse, saying, “Well I can’t know better because I have this disability?” How many of us who don’t have these things have been disappointed that our children, siblings, parents or friends do?

These are tough questions but questions that need to be asked. Because we might not be quite as obvious as Bob Marshall, we all sometimes support a culture that suggests that disability is a tragedy and that people who are disabled would be better off not living.

If you like what I have to say and want me to speak in front of your Aspergers support group or other group related to Aspergers or trans issues, I’m available! Contact me at my website or send me an email.

Categories: Aspergers | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Aspergers is Not a Tragedy (Response to Bob Marshall)

  1. lumilarose

    As a person who is beyond normal, in the positive sense, I agree completely with you when you say you don’t like the word and with the reasons why you say so.
    As always, I think that acknowledging this from the position you are not touched by the problem itself is more meaningful to visibility because nobody could attack back saying of course you think this, you are touched by it and of course if you don’t get depressed by the “truth” you get angry at it and go around talking about pride blah blah, so I am going to share it.

  2. Cindi

    Thank you for sharing your insight. Very well written and thought out!

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