Burden of Proof: The Privilege of My Visible Disability

When I enter a room, my disability is always one step ahead of me. My powered wheelchair gives me nowhere to hide from the palpable intrigue hanging in the air, and I have perfected a sweet smile in response to the eyes that inevitably drift my way as I pass by. I tell myself it must be my cute outfit, but the reality is that having a highly visible disability defines my interpersonal life and is a lens through which I interact with the world around me.

I exist at the intersection of society’s deeply embedded stereotypes about disability, my own internalized ableism and my identity aside from my diagnosis of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) — but the visibility of my disability means that the latter is forever framed by my four wheels.