Here’s a really great commentary on the use of “person first” language:
i didnt even see the shadows til the writer mentioned them. Not a fan of this graphic or it’s message.
Too often people tell me “but I don’t see your disability!” and “I don’t think of you as disabled!”. That’s troubling for me because, well, hi denial! But it also makes assumptions about what i have going on. People assume they know what my “disability” is, what it contains, and they’re wrong. For starters, i have disabilitIES, and they are varied. Because there exists this one manifestation that most people can understand and recognize as somehow officially Disabled(tm) (i.e. being on wheels) doesn’t mean they have any understanding of what’s going on for me.
So they have this recognition that there’s disability going on, yet they find it important to tell me that they will erase my reality as a gimp, at least for the duration of our interaction.
Why? Because underneath all the “I don’t see disability” talk, they do see it and they think it’s shameful, sad, pathetic, embarrassing, however it is they are interpreting their personal fear about my experience, and they likely imagine i feel those things too, and they want to be on the same page. Even though, clearly, we will never be.
If using person first language helps you to work on your recognition of disabled folks as human, i suppose that’s important work, so keep it up. Just don’t insist i use it. If yer also disabled, please don’t insist i use the same language you use to describe myself. If you want to challenge your ideas around this stuff, or just want to be a generally respectful person, ask me what i prefer.
It won’t hurt, promise!
Also, just to add…
i want you to see me, and that includes my disabilities. If you look at me and tell me you “don’t see” my disabilities, you are telling me you “don’t see” me. Because while i am not only my disabilities, they’re a huge and integral part of my lived reality. And if you refuse my lived reality, well, we won’t have too much to talk about now will we?