26 May 2014

Do Blind People Dream in Color? Transabled/Transblind Commentary

The following article is a commentary on a recent article in the Braille Monitor, "Do Blind People Dream in Color?" The commentary (in bold for sighted folks) is written by Tasha Raella, who has given permission for the below commentary to be printed.

Today, a genderqueer, cisblind friend of mine (let’s call them Kelly) posted the below article from The Braille Monitor to their timeline. I read it, and realized that as a transabled person, I was instantly triggered by it, though I could also see how the article validated Kelly’s perspective. We had a lengthy conversation, in which we openly and honestly shared our views. Our conversation inspired me to write the following commentary. My thoughts are in brackets. Before we proceed, it’s important that I briefly explain some vocabulary.

Transabled or transblind (alternatively, abilityqueer): A term that typically refers to people without disabilities who feel that they need them (e.g. a sighted person who feels like she needs to be blind), but which I also use to refer to myself (a congenitally blind person with limited light perception who identifies as sighted). Transability is not the same as internalized ableism, because my identification with sightedness stems from factors that are unrelated to ableism. I have persistently felt sighted from a very early age, before I was exposed to the detrimental effects of ableism.  My transability is as integral to my identity as   Kelly's non-binary gender identity in a binarist world. when it comes to transness,  identity runs deeper than social conditioning.

 Cisdisabled or cisblind: A blind person who identifies as a blind person. Analogous to cisgender.

Now, on with the commentary.

Article quote:

Do Blind People Dream in Color?
by Erin Jepsen

From the Editor: Sometimes I find myself complaining about the blurring I perceive between opinion and news, about the tendency to elevate the reporter above the events he reports, and about how easily we accept one side of a story without demanding the other side and then some considered discussion of the conflicting points of view. When we carry an investigative piece, the Monitor tries to talk with those who are complaining and those who are the target of the complaints. We certainly do weigh in with our synthesis of what we have been told and have observed, but we also hope to give readers enough information to draw their own conclusions about what has been reported.

What follows is not an investigative piece. It is clearly a strongly held opinion, one that may cause those of us who consider ourselves progressive in the way we think about blindness to question whether we appreciate all that our senses can tell us or whether we simply appreciate having them, poor substitutes though they may be, for the sense of sight.

Raella commentary:

[Here’s the first sign that I identify with the sighted perspective. After reading this paragraph, I felt instantly ashamed for my seeming inability to “appreciate what my senses have to tell me.” I know on some level, I can push myself to get more out of my other senses (to concentrate on what I do perceive, rather than what I don’t), but this takes a great deal of effort and is not automatic, the way it seems to be for some other blind people. This lack of automaticity affects almost every domain of my life. When teaching, for example, it rarely occurs to me to use auditory cues, such as having students say “yes” instead of raising their hands to indicate that they have completed a task. I can learn to use these techniques, but I often need to be reminded of their existence, as if I were someone who had recently lost her sight, rather than someone who has never had it].

Article quote: 

Here is a perspective from the mother of a blind child, a mother who has some sight but considers herself blind and thinks there is much to appreciate in being so:

Raella commentary: 

[Again, the disconcerting       shame because of my lack of appreciation for blindness.]

Article quote: 

Have you ever been asked, “Do blind people dream in color?” I’d like to answer that question, but not in the way you might think. I’d like to say that blind people need to dream more in color, not literally, but metaphorically. Let me explain if I may.

Raella commentary:

[Why must we limit our understanding of color to metaphor? I strongly believe that because colors are basically just vibrations, blind people, if they so wish, can understand them literally, as well as metaphorically.]

Article quote:

A chronic condition exists in our world that desperately needs changing. We have chipped away at it, but still it lurks in our culture, in books, in movies, in conversations, and in unnecessarily limited expectations. We’ll call it “sightism” for lack of a better term, and, quickly defined, it’s the belief that being sighted is fundamentally better than being blind.

Raella commentary:

[Do I feel that being sighted is better than being blind? It’s a complicated question. I guess my best answer is in general, I don’t think one state of being is “better” than the other, but because I experience intense dysphoria as a blind person, being sighted would be “better” for me. Which leaves me wondering: am I a blind person who is sightist? Am I contributing to oppression? My friend Kelly is quick to reassure me that I am not an oppressor, because I’m not reaping the benefits of sighted privilege, but am I? After all, my way of thinking about the importance of visual culture is in alignment with the dominant paradigm. I feel privileged and marginalized at the same time]

Article quote:

Historically, the “medical model of blindness,” as it’s called in academia, is partly to blame. The thinking goes like this: Diseases, illness, or accidents cause blindness, so it is obviously to be combated and cured by the medical community and by research. Eye doctors spend years of study and millions of dollars to learn how to restore sight. Blindness is not an ideal part of the human condition, so its reversal is better than its acceptance. Historical literature paints the blind man as a second-class citizen, unable to support a family, unable to function independently, and devoid of power in any sort of social sense. The Bible also has several examples of Christ restoring sight, which carries with it the assumption that the lives of those so touched will be vastly improved.

Raella commentary:

[I definitely don’t agree with the medical model of blindness, and am conflicted over the vast amount of money researchers are spending on finding cures for various eye conditions. On the one hand, I am selfishly grateful. I want a cure (though I prefer to call it a transition to sightedness). On the other hand, I realize that the majority of congenitally blind people (and a lot of adventitiously blind people as well) do not want such a cure. I think this kind of research is acceptable, as long as researchers are very careful not to assume that every blind person wants to benefit from it.]

Article quote: 

In modern culture we, the politically correct enlightened few, assume we’ve evolved beyond this demeaning form of oppression. Here’s how our modern thinking tends to run: Of course a blind man can work! He’ll simply use his iPhone as a sort of replacement sight and go on with his business. Technology today has advanced so far that we’ll soon have self-driving cars and artificial retinas. Stem cells will likely re-grow entire eyes if put into the right petri dish.

Yes, I’m being facetious, but I wonder if you can spot my point? Replacement eyes. New eyeballs that work. Sight, sight, sight. Valuable—you bet. The end all and be all of human existence—I don’t buy it.

Raella commentary:

[Another sign that I’m reading this article as a sighted person: instead of getting annoyed by this proliferation of sight-replacing or sight-restoring technologies, I get excited by it. Clearly, the author feels that this emphasis on sight-restoring technologies will further support society’s marginalization of blindness and its obsession with the visual. But does this have to be the case? Can’t blind people fight for their rights, and demonstrate that their perspective is valuable, while at the same time, technologies are created for the blind people who wish to transition into sightedness, or to live as sighted part of the time? ? Maybe I’m naïve and idealistic, but I don’t think it is an either/or. When created and used responsibly, technology is all about giving people options.]

Article quote: 

I’ve been told that humans use up to 70 percent of their brains to interpret visual images. (Some literature alleges that 90 percent of learning comes through vision.) I was told this during a vision screening in which my own visual condition was cross-examined. My brain apparently processes visual images incorrectly. It brought into focus for me (sorry about the pun) the trouble the sighted world has with the idea that someone could function normally without that 70 percent of visual input and still have a rich sensory environment. I get it. Simple mathematics dictates that a blind person uses only the 30 percent that remains, right? Well, we all know that isn’t true. The brain is more flexible than that, and, while I don’t buy into the delightful myth of superhuman hearing, a la Daredevil, I do know that the brain appropriates visual processing centers in order to interpret shapes read by the fingers as well as aural input. Echolocation is one example.

Raella commentary:

[Though I of course don’t believe that blind people only use 30% of their brains, I can say that as a transabled person, I am keenly aware of the gaps in my sensory perceptions. I of course have no evidence to back this up, but I suspect that the neural restructuring that happens in most blind people’s brains didn’t happen to the same extent for me. I am more interested in color theory than I am in sculpture or music or anything else that is tactile or auditory. I am definitely good at some tasks that sighted people aren’t (listening to synthesized speech at high speeds, for example.) But it seems like the author is making an assumption that all blind people have a rich and complete sensory experience, and I don’t know if that is the case. I wonder if other blind people can relate to my awareness of having a gap in perception.]

Article quote: 

Still, people have a hard time believing that this is adequate. Even the blind community has a pervasive attitude of sightism running through it. Stick with me here. We’ve been told our whole lives that, while blindness is okay, sight is better, right? The sighted parents receive news that their child will be blind for life, and how do they react? They weep. The child hears them weeping and begins to form an image of her own unfortunate circumstances. This carries through to the undereducated (through no fault of her own) blind adult who cannot hold a job because she has never been expected to ride public transit by herself, the man who never learns to get along with his co-workers without demanding special treatment, and the woman who is incapable of working current technology because her school provided her with technology from 1965. In writing this I’m not shaming us, but I’m pointing out some simple facts. We all know these blind people. We are them.

Raella commentary:

[In my case, I had access to the right technology, and the right education. I had several strong blind adult role models. My mother quickly got over her grief and focused on helping me to become the most successful blind person possible. My father researched sight restoration for me, but I think only because I had expressed an interest in it myself. Clearly, education and familial attitudes are not the only factors that influence whether we identify or disidentify with blindness. I think there is a pronounced difference between the examples Jepsen describes, of blind people who were taught to believe that they couldn’t lead successful lives, and transblind people, who, for whatever reason, are wired for sight.]

Article quote: 

I have low vision. I’ve been denied jobs because the potential employer had known an incompetent blind person and assumed I was also incompetent. There is room for change.

Raella commentary:

[Yes, I agree.]

Article quote: 

Family, acquaintances, and strangers weekly tell me things I should believe about myself and my daughter, who is blind. When she confidently runs around at church during music practice, I invariably have someone tell me that she can surely see better than we think she can. (Uhm, prosthetic eye, anyone?) The underlying assumption that confident movement can be achieved only with sight is unquestioned. When I refute it, amazement and the dreaded word “inspiration” often follows. When she had surgery on her eyes, people asked me if she could then see better. They ask me if they might pray that her sight would be improved. I won’t go into my observations about our faith in the medical system as contrasted with our faith in the Divine. While I do believe in Divine healing, I believe more in Divine guidance, and sometimes we really do walk by faith and not sight. Did you hear me? Not sight. As in, that’s okay.

Raella commentary:

[I read this, and part of me is envious of Jepsen’s daughter’s confidence. I have blind friends that are amazing travelers, and to be honest, I think I’m in as much awe of them as sighted people are, though I definitely would never ever use the I word to describe them. Ick. Also, this paragraph is another example of Jepsen’s chastising and somewhat condescending tone. Kelly said that they doesn’t think Jepsen is saying that blindness is better than sight; she’s merely pointing out sighted culture’s extreme tendency to undervalue blind people’s ways of doing things. If Jepsen is taking an extreme position, Kelly says, it’s only because sighted people take an equally extreme position with regards to blindness. But as a deconstructionist, I’m always on the lookout for dichotomies, and I think Jepsen is unintentionally creating one here. In his article Queer as a Verb , Charlie Glickman invites us to view dichotomies as tensions between sameness and difference, rather than opposing forces. I think that’s what Jepsen is trying to do here, but it isn’t really working for me, because I keep scenting blind superiority.]

Article quote: 

The civil rights movement in our country focused our attention on race. It showed us that people with black skin could be employed if they were allowed to be educated. It showed us that black people were not content to sit at the back of the bus or to be treated as second-class citizens. It showed us that the rusty old “colored” drinking fountain next to the refrigerated “white” drinking fountain would no longer do and that shoehorning black adults into menial labor jobs was no longer acceptable. As a country we discovered that people of color were equal in every way to white people. It took time for this idea to sink in. It took a lot of work. But, for a lot of us, it has finally penetrated our skulls, and, equally important, it has made its way into our hearts—both are required for real awareness and understanding that people are equal, no matter their race.

Now let’s talk about disability. I’m tired of sitting at the back of the bus too. I’m tired of people weeping over blindness. I’m tired of literature equating blindness with death, with sin, with darkness and fear, and with ineptitude. I’m tired of being seen as superhuman or subhuman, and, never oh never, just human. I’m tired of viral videos showing a six-year-old boy stepping off a curb for the very first time with his white cane as if that is a good thing. It’s not a good thing. Eighteen-month-old babies step off curbs for the first time, not six-year-old children. I’m tired of reading about 70 percent unemployment rates for blind adults. I’m tired of Braille charities that “bring light to those in darkness.” Well, excuse me, I’m not in darkness. My visual condition happens to have a little too much light as a matter of fact. I’m tired of raising money to fight against my blindness. I don’t raise money to fight against my brown hair, my five-foot-ten height, or my Caucasian skin. If I raised money to fight my daughter’s African skin, I’d be accused of racism, and my accusers would be right. I don’t need to fight against who I am, and, more than that, fighting against the way I perceive the world robs the world of my own perception and of my own voice and message.

Raella commentary:

[I agree. However, whenever I am mistreated because of my blindness, my tendency is to take it personally, rather than to view the sighted person as ableist. It’s not that I think ableism doesn’t exist. It’s more that my identification with sightedness is so tangible, my expectation that I should be read as sighted so pronounced, that I blame myself. Of course, this way of viewing the situation seems illogical and potentially damaging, which drives home to me that my transability is not something over which I have complete control. When I expressed frustration to Kelly that I was not able to identify with Jepsen’s description of ableism, they said reassuringly, “Of course you wouldn’t. You’re sighted.”

In addition, I think the discourse around “curing” blindness needs to change. Phrases like “fighting blindness” and “suffering from blindness,” though they generate pathos and loosen purse strings, should be excised, because they imply that blindness is inferior to sight. We need to find other ways of talking about blindness research that are not oppressive, while still recognizing that some people may want to transition out of blindness. Another friend with a disability, Valéria M. Souza, ., helped me come to the conclusion that the tools to “cure” blindness are not in it of themselves dangerous; it is the way that the medical establishment wields them that is oppressive.]

Article quote: 

The medical model of blindness is fine as far as it goes. The social model steps a bit further and insists that blindness, when incurable, can become a normal condition of existence and should be accepted as such. Well, that’s all nice, but do I merely accept my daughter’s African skin? By no means! I embrace her beauty. I tell my bi-racial son that his brown skin is gorgeous, which it is. I tell them that their beautiful hair is so much fun. I tell my white children the same. I adore my multi-colored family, and my adoration opens the door for those around me to adore them too.

I draw attention to race only to illustrate a parallel between accepting differences in race and accepting differences in sensory ability. Just as rejecting racism ultimately relies on appreciating one another’s differences, rejecting sightism goes far, far beyond simple acceptance. Merely existing in spite of our blindness isn’t good enough. Secretly wishing we could see won’t cut it. There is a point beyond simply living with our blindness--actually enjoying it. There is a point where we realize that we have a unique perception of the world that sighted people don’t have. This perception adds richness to the tapestry of human existence.

Raella commentary:

[Again, Jepsen seems to be conflating her views with that of all blind people. Not everyone is capable (or desires to) embrace their blindness. By not acknowledging this fact, Jepsen is engaging in (or at least supporting) identity-policing. She is implying that if a blind person refuses to embrace blindness, he or she is contributing to sightism. Philosopher Jose Medina writes that proponents of second-wave feminism defined themselves in opposition to men and valorized “women’s ways” of doing things. I wonder if that is what is going on here; is the disability rights movement undergoing an analogous stage?] I see much potential in writers such as Robert McRure and Eli Claire, whose work is at the intersection of disability and queer studies, though to my knowledge, no one has yet postulated that abilityqueerness is separate from ableism and is a valid identity category.]

Article quote: 

My daughter who is blind has a rich perception that is unique to her and is in no way less than that of her sister who is fully sighted. If I go around telling my blind daughter everything I see and describing the world to her so that her poor pitiful dark world will be just a bit fuller, then I am sending her the subtle message that the things she notices are less meaningful than the things I can (sort of) see. People who tell me I am blessed because of the limited sight I have discount the wonderful things I possess as part of my blind self. I want to tell them that the unique way that I have always perceived the world is important, even if it is different from the way they perceive it!

Raella commentary:

[But the question is: does Jepsens’s daughter want to hear about the visual world? If she does, then her mother’s description of what she sees will contribute to the richness of her perception, rather than diminish it. Again, I think it is possible to do both: give the blind child an opportunity to engage with visuality, while encouraging and supporting her nonvisual perceptions. As the child grows older, she will be able to make her own decision regarding her relationship with the visual, but that decision can only be made if she has access to information from visual and nonvisual channels.]

Article quote: 

Remember the scene in Dead Poets Society where the teacher stands on his desk to the consternation of his strait-laced, rule-following prep-school pupils? He is trying to get them to see the world in a new way, a different way. He is trying to broaden them. At the end of the movie, the tearjerker scene involves a student standing on his desk, as if to say, “I learned what you were trying to teach. I get it. I’ve changed.”

Guess what? We blind folks were born standing on our desks--or that illness or accident forced us up there. We see the world in a different way. That’s not a bad thing; it’s a wonderful thing. It’s a broadening thing. The world needs us: not to give them inspiration, not by stepping off curbs, but by being ourselves. By experiencing the world in the way that we experience it, by looking at things from a different angle, we enrich the world.

Raella commentary:

[I’m standing on a desk, too! Except instead of teaching sighted people about how I perceive the world differently, I’m declaring my unbounded curiosity about sight. I’m focusing on my similarities to sighted people, rather than my differences, and I think that is just as important and just as subversive as what Jepsen is doing. I’m queering the boundary between blindness and sightedness, not out of a desire to conform, but out of a desire to live my own truth. The poet Hune Margulies writes, “is the bridge/there to embrace together two shores,/or are the shores/
there/to embrace both ends of the bridge?]

Article quote: 

I read an article which said that architecture designed with a blind user in mind ends up being more functional for the general population. In the same way that embracing the beauty of all colors of the races and all of the variety found in the world’s many cultural traditions makes us stronger, so too does embracing our diverse abilities. These must be seen as valid ways of perceiving or navigating the world so that they can bring a richness of experience, a diversity of thought and problem-solving that cannot happen when vision is considered to be the most important of our five senses. We close doors leading to significant human experience when only mobility using two feet is considered, when only hearing is considered, when only neuro-typical ideas are deemed valid.

Raella commentary:

[I consider my transability to be a form of neuroqueerness.]

Article quote: 

This shift in thinking about blindness has to come from the blind community first. For the sighted world to see us as competent, we need to begin seeing ourselves as possessing a truly valid perceptual experience. We need to question the sightism that goes on around us constantly. We need to sit in at the sightist lunch counters and insist that we belong there. We need to appreciate the blind artists who showcase the beauty of our perception to the unaware sighted world. We need to insist that blind actors play blind roles in Hollywood and discontinue the shameful but Oscar-winning blind-face practice that goes on there. We need to keep on working for equal access to education and transportation. We need to push back gently against teachers of the blind who teach reliance on poor sight over learning essential blindness skills.

Raella commentary:

[Note Jepsen’s use of “wee.” Though I agree with many of the causes Jepsen says we must fight for, my dichotomy alarm is still going off. Jepsen is using words like “blind community” and “sighted world,” which, to me, perpetuates an us-versus-them mentality. Kelly says that blind people are not to blame for this dichotomizing, that sighted people are responsible for creating it. Regardless of who is responsible, I worry that if we continue to use this kind of language, we are feeding the dichotomy rather than disrupting it.]

Article quote: 

I’m not discounting the frightening experience of sight loss. Any change like that is bound to be unsettling; I’ve gone through it myself. I’ve gone through the identity shift that rocked the very core of my existence when the person I thought I was is the person I no longer am. I’ve been there. I have. It’s okay. Stepping up onto that desk is scary at first. After a while, though, you find your balance and look around, acknowledging that what you observe is still reality, but reality from a different point of view.

Raella commentary:

[But sometimes, this doesn’t happen for me. Sometimes, I stand up on that desk, and I’m twisted between the me that is blind and the me that drives all her friends around and practices her calligraphy. Though only the former exists on a physical plane, the potentiality of the other me is just as real.]

Article quote: 

Because of the Civil Rights movement, I can adopt and raise black kids to have a wonderful future and embrace them for the color and race they are. I hope that in twenty years my partially sighted and blind children can have as bright a future and be embraced in their families and workplaces for the valuable contributions they make and not merely accepted or accommodated. Like the inimitable Dr. King, I have a dream: just as racism is dying, that sightism and ableism will die the same death, that the medical model will no longer be used as an excuse to discriminate and push us to assume second-class citizenship. I dream that our blind kids will join the ranks of tomorrow’s chemists and doctors and actors and engineers, as well as bricklayers and fast-food workers. I dream that we will never again hear stories of blind parents having children removed by Children’s Protective Services because they are both blind. I dream that inclusive architecture will be standard because the people who directly benefit from that architecture are valuable enough to be worth it. I dream that our children won’t have to spend their energy fighting for equal access to science laboratories but instead can spend their time and energy researching. I have a dream that all Braille teachers not only will read Braille well, but will tell children that learning Braille is as easy as sighted kids learning to read those squiggles and lines they call print. I dream that blind athletes will continue to strive for world records. Not only do I dream for the newsmakers, but I want to see a world in which blind people who want to live quiet, peaceful, non-record-breaking lives without being interrupted by a constant stream of acquaintances calling them inspirational will be free to do so. Let’s dream together, shall we? And then we’ll tell the world of our beautiful, colorful dreams.

Raella commentary:

[Maybe my dreams aren’t so different from Jepsen’s, but here’s what I would add: I dream that blind children will be fully included in art classes, instead of handed a piece of clay and told to work by themselves. I dream that all of us, blind and sighted, will learn that the visual can be accessed through more than just the eyeballs. I dream that while attending Harvard this fall, I will create a system for distinguishing  colors using the fingertips, through a phenomenon called dermo-optical perception. I dream that DOP will become mainstream, and that sighted and blind artists will collaborate and break boundaries. And, above all, I dream that the diverse experiences of all blind people will be celebrated: cisblindness, transblindness, and everything in between.] 


9 comments:

  1. Hello, this is Erin Jepsen, the author of the article you quoted. My friend emailed me your blog post from a discussion on Facebook.

    First of all, I'd like to thank you for the fantastic and thoughful commentary on my article! This is the type of conversation we need more of, the type of conversation that the internet makes possible and I think it is healthy and good, when kept respectful.

    To that end, I apologize that you felt my tone was condescending and that you felt triggered or marginalized by my article. My one unhappiness when I wrote it was that it was too much of a rant and too inflammatory. In part it was a backlash against feeling condescended to and marginalized by some sighted people, but I realize that such a reaction tends to perpetuate more of the same, which is the very opposite of my intent!

    Also, to the degree that I did not acknowledge the blind people who identify as sighted, I also apologize. I should know better. A good friend of mine is one such person, although she doesn't describe it using the same verbiage. For myself, a person with some sight, who is not legally blind, but because of intermittent blindness identifies as a blind person, I would fit into your transabled definition, although I had not heard it called that before.

    I would like you to please be aware that the first several paragraphs were written by the editor of the Braille Monitor as an editor's note, and if they bothered you, please address your comments to him. I hope it is clear where his comments stop and my article begins, because I feel that his comments perhaps set a tone for my article that I did not intend.

    I won't respond to each of your comments indivudually, mostly because I have four children clamoring for dinner! Most of the comments are thought-provoking and I have read them all and will read them all again. We have much to learn from one another. In particular, the comment about my use of color as a metaphor and the comment about my inadervtently perpetuating an us-versus-them dichotomoy are quite good to ponder. I think you're absolutely right, and I want to discuss ways to promote inclusiveness rather than needing to take sides or have a blind-versus-sighted divide, when really we are all on a spectrum of sight anyway.

    I really appreciate your post and I hope this conversation may continue.

    Erin Jepsen

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks so much for responding, and I love that we are both open to each other's perspectives. Dialog is awesome! Sorry if I didn't make a point of acknowledging that those were the editor's comments, not yours: I think you raise an important point about the distinction between the two. And also, I think part of the reason blind people who feel as I do are often not acknowledged is that we don't yet have the language to describe what that experience is like, or maybe , it's that we do have language to describe ourselves as individuals, but we don't have a common lexicon. that's why i'm playing around with terms like transblind and cisblind. They might never catch on, and someone else might come up with words that do, but I'm a strong believer in the importance of names, and I often think about how many human experiences have been marginalized because we've lacked names for them. Feel free to message me on Facebook and we can exchange contact info.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My thanks both to you, Tasha, and to Lydia for posting this on zeir blog.

      I think the term that you're looking for — the one I identify with at least — is trans sighted, rather than trans blind, in the same way that a man designated female at birth would be a trans man, not a trans woman. I'm also a trans fast-reader stuck in a dyslexic brain, and a trans abled person stuck in a dysautonomiac body, and so on. In fact of the many disabilities and illnesses I was born with and have acquired over the years, the only disability that I possess in which I am cis is that I'm Autistic.

      Delete
  3. Erin, I'm "Kelly" from the article and I would love to meet both you and your friend on Facebook! I'd love to get more dialogue going on about cis blindness and trans blindness and queering the boundary between sighted and blind.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kelly, I'd be happy to! Please friend me on Facebook and let me know it's you. :) I'm friends now with Tasha and Valéria so you should be able to find me.

      Delete
  4. You are totally right. Trans-sighted makes more sense. Inventing new words is a tricky business!

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  5. I am confused by this- I'm severely near-sighted (as in I have to be very careful where I put my glasses or I'll have to grope for them) I could be considered "legally blind" but with my glasses I am fully sighted. Is this the sort of reason someone might identify as "transblind"? In that case I could understand, though I wouldn't call myself that. I don't have the experiences that blind people have. From what I understand there are some non-disabled people mainly on Tumblr that identify as "transdisabled". I'm surprised you're promoting this viewpoint, Lydia. Would you think appropriate for a non-autistic person to call themselves "transautistic"? I am concerned about disrespect for both transgender and disabled communities.

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  6. Sorry if my post was confusing! I am congenitally blind but identify as sighted. I am aware that the word transabled is used mainly to refer to non-disabled people who identify as disabled, but I A. Think that at least some of those people are sincere and are not using the word to disrespect the trans and disabled communities, and B. Think that the concept of transability can easily be expanded to encompass my experience. In general, I advocate for an expansion of the concept of transness to include other facets of identity besides gender. This is by no means meant to minimize or co-opt the transgender experience.

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  7. When you get right down to it isn't this just plain mental illness? There is evidence that there exists such a thing as a male or female brain. Brain waves in the sexes differ, in other words. I don't know if the study that founded that is still considered credible these days (I'm not an expert) but it's my understanding that gender is established as a two part process: one genetic, and one hormonal when the fetus is still inside the mother. If the wires get crossed, sometimes the mother will give the wrong hormonal bath and you end up with someone who might feel as if they are the opposite sex.

    With all this transabilism, how are you supposed to explain it? People who want to be blind, others who want to be paralyzed, others who want to be amputees. Why isn't this called body integrity disorder? Especially the people who go so far as to maim themselves to achieve the condition they want. That fits the standard requirements for a diagnosis. So why is it that you're trying to accept this as a lifestyle choice? Are you just wanting to deny mental illness exists by simply labeling it something else? Is the shame and stigma just too much?

    ReplyDelete

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