This is a post I’d like to dedicate to Chelsea Clinton and her mother. Why? Because their book, entitled “The Book of Gutsy Women” is a mantra of “be prepared” and “be bold.” But moreover, this post is about who I am, who I didn’t want to be, and who I became. Let me start with a brief summary which I hope will expand into a published work.
First, I was born in 1986, in Orlando, Florida, raised in the Space Age by engineering students who later became workers at the Kennedy Space Center. I’m sorry to admit that I did not take the path that they expected, and it was because of their later actions against me that now I find myself having to fight for the rights and civil liberties of disabled and elders. Let’s start from the beginning of that phase, shall we?
Those of you who thought I was conceited, well I’m sorry, but your thought of me being conceited is brazen and stupid. If you think I’m conceited, you are. You are the insecure person, all because you never had the chance to experience prison life. No, I’m not talking about prison like go walk in the yard every day, eat expired meals, or worse, live in abhorrent conditions. Or worse, deplorable conditions, you may have inhabited. Okay, you may have experienced tough jail time, but face this, I was imprisoned in my family’s living quarters for five years, but something within me told me that I had to leave. It was either leave, get the NFB training I got, or be stuck isolated and friendless for life, having people wish I’d stay in a cage, etc. This was the case of a guy called Rob, who was flirting with me, and I wasn’t having it. Because of that flirtatious encounter, I don’t let a man get between me and my own personal honor. Rob, however, did not like this respectability. He blocked me on AIM, told me to go sit and rot in a cage, and honestly opposed my independence. This is stupid, altogether custodial and wrong as well as cruel. That kind of language bounced back to the people I dealt with.
Let’s face another fact. For those who call me entitled, shut up and go burn somewhere. Entitled people are mostly predators, predators and criminals and con artists. Good people aren’t entitled. I’m entitled to three different things: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. All of these are in the preamble of the Constitution, and I’m sad to say they’re being chipped away by an entitled brat called Trump. He must be removed from office, especially if my fiancé’s vision of the America we live in comes true, where disabled men and women and children are all thrown out, replaced with white, able, and rich kids. Ugh. I can’t stand the white people who are thinking about me as such, entitled and stupid and insecure. Someone called a post of mine on Facebook “disgusting.” One brazen man from California said he was “glad you’re not in a position of power.” That just eggs me on, stupid man. I will be in a position of power, and he will not. I honestly wish I could tell him to his face that he raped a friend of mine, raped someone to the point of pregnancy, and after the pregnancy, she gave up her child, but that’s your DNA running around. Yes, that man’s DNA is in that child. That’s not just her child, that’s everybody’s child. There are so many men who are both blind and sighted who think women are simply a place to rest their appendages, namely the penis, and a place to unload their sexual frustrations. The answer, I’m mighty proud to say, is no.
For the men and women who think I should simply resign from activism and get a real job, again I want you to zip your lips closed, don’t speak a word, and go somewhere else and talk about something else other than me. Have you noticed that anyone who’s said this about me is mostly white, privileged, and able to work? I’ll tell you one guy that said this about me was white, privileged, and a father and stepfather. Ugh. It makes me sick to know that these people are not serving as role models, not realizing where they could have gone, or where they came from. Probably in most cases, they came from a humble background. I’d like to say I’m a bit too much for these bastardes, and I won’t stop till they are kept off the rostrum, not allowed to speak out against someone who’s doing the right thing. And I didn’t even ask for this.
While someone might say, “Yeah, Beth, you’re asking for trolls. You’re asking for sex without consent. You’re a slut,” I will say this, “Shut up and go to Hell with your comments and bad names and language. It is in no way that I will accept someone who is poised to deliver bad language to my activism community.” I was freed from the guardianship that held me captive for 15 years, as if all the boyfriends I had were only holding on to me for safekeeping. Trenton, for instance, is altogether the best boyfriend and fiancé I have ever had. Probably will be a better husband than anything and anyone else, including those weird roller coasters. No offense to a woman who might have a weird sexual relationship with any inanimate items, but I find Trenton to be my best supporter. Of course, he has supported me in the face of assault and slut shaming, and the slut shaming, sadly, was done by a girl who was raised by whites. She might have been of a minority group, but she didn’t act like it at all. She acted as though I was inferior to her, and this angers me to no end because she is here, here in Denver, somewhere I won’t necessarily pinpoint. However, she needs to understand that she was also in all ways privileged. Privileged people look down on people like me, who’ve had to taste what we call ableism, and that ableism, coupled with exclusion and doctrinal woes made me the woman I am today. I’m sorry, but I hope the professionals in Brevard County read this. They don’t realize I didn’t ask someone to be an activist, to fight on behalf of disabled people who need to be freed from guardianship. I did not ask for guardianship all around either. My parents used it as a tool to silence me, and as a tool for abuse, and that needs to be said and I hope to God someone believes me. You have to believe your victims, especially the blind ones. Blind females stand an 85% chance of being raped, including my friend I mentioned earlier, who was raped on a date with a man at the same center she was at. He slipped something into a drink she had in her hand, and like any practiced college preppy, he dragged her to his bed and raped her. She woke up not knowing she’d been exposed, in his bed, and not sure how and why she was in bed with the man who just attacked her. She had changed the tone of her voice when I mentioned the man’s name, and she said, clearly that the man had raped her. There are many Jane Doh rape cases out there involving blind and mentally disabled women, intellectually disabled women, etc. Parents raise their disabled kids to be obedient, kind, and complacent. This is dangerous, as someone could take advantage of that person at any moment in their lives.
Ashley, 13, was raped by a stranger but few details are known. She now is somewhere in her thirties, and has to live with the trauma for the rest of. her life. Out of all the Ashleys out there I have spoken to, 9 will be raped this year. It’s not just female disabled people’s rapes that concerns me. Most rapists I have heard of were known to the victim, she being someone the guy might be interested in. The California Casanova I mentioned before ultimately had a crush or interest or was friends with his victim, which is about 90% of all rape cases, including those involving able women.
In order to protect these women, the parents oftentimes want guardianship, but that ruins lives more than countless times. I refuse to think that the guardianship being gone is the end of a fight. Now, my next step is to fight for others. A medical professional had to step in and say I was not in need of a guardian, and psych tests are biased, so the only way to figure this out is to legislate out guardianship in favor of a more supportive, person centered thing called supportive decision making. You might think, but what about those with Down’s syndrome or other medically diagnosable conditions like the intellectual disability that Dawn, a woman from Rockledge in Brevard County, got after contracting the measles? Robert, her father, was upset understandably after finding out that her baby, Dawn’s own flesh and blood, was the child of a caretaker at a group home. Dawn desperately needs safety training, among other things, and there has to be a way to give all intellectually disabled women a voice. Dawn Blanchard was raped repeatedly by her caregiver, something that happens a lot more commonplace in nursing homes and institutions in state facilities for the disabled. There was a baby born to a San Carlos Apache woman in Arizona who was in what we call a state of “vegetation.” Guardianship and a group home prevented her from getting better care. Now, her baby is in her family’s care, and she will need extra care from now on. I don’t think sterilizing a disabled woman is going to stop a caregiver from raping her, rather it will enable such acts. Imagine our Californian from the depths of nowhereville decided to do the same thing to a woman in his care. I would hope he doesn’t give himself that opportunity. Criminals look for two things: a victim and an opportunity. The victim presents itself among people they know, but an opportunity would come later.
This guy I mentioned a few times has looked for victims and opportunities in my friend, a girl he impregnated, and countless other blind women he might have seen drunk at conventions. This is where the NFB code of conduct should be stringent. I didn’t ask to be an activist, nor will I ever ask for death, but if activism comes knocking and death later, I have to accept both because if someone doesn’t stand up for the ones who are rendered voiceless, those of us who are powerless, then the powerful will rape and take advantage of them.
One thing I often think about these days is how I’m going to spend my life. Writing this blog is a therapeutic release for me, since I only get a monthly therapy visit. I wish I had better and more therapy, and a driver to take me to said appointments because of time constraints and buses might break down. Ugh. The big thing that any NFB center should keep in mind is that guardianship ruins lives, and the NFB should be willing to fight for blind and low vision people who can’t live under a guardian’s imprisoning stares. It is impossible for those of us who read this blog to understand where and how this happens. Typically, a parent or abuser says the following thing while doing the abuse: “We’re gonna do it so don’t fight it and don’t tell anyone or we’ll (blank).” The blank is filled in with any bit of bodily harm, punishment, or otherwise cruelty. They always start out that way. Then, the lawyers and evaluators come in, and my parents honestly don’t get this part, they are ableist usually. Ableist people that are hired by the state and county will devalue my words, devalue the words of anyone who sits before them, call them an “imbecile” or “idiot” or “incapacitated.” The lawyer who did this, Rick Staddler, should never have been retired in grace. Why he did this I don’t get it, but he wanted to put on a friendly face. This doesn’t work and will never work.
Kristy Mount, the latest model worker for my parents’ bamboozling foolishness, somehow asked a doctor to fill out a form and the doctor did while she said I didn’t need a guardian. I’m sorry, but a medical professional I visit regularly didn’t and shouldn’t have stepped in or had to do so at all. I was a sane person, but let me introduce you to someone you already know, and tell you why guardianship should be illegal.
Meet Britney Spears, pop star, famed singer, princess and teenage sex symbol, and ward of the state of California. Yeah, this is her. She was stripped of her rights and her father could no longer care for her. Now, she’s fighting the courts to get her rights back, but because she is wealthy, her assets are being targeted and used to pay everything, from child support to a father’s medical bills. I don’t think Jamie Spears was able to understand what he did wrong. Britney could use a financial advisor and someone to help her with personal financial planning, and without taking her lines of credit away or without giving her cash in the envelopes. Britney is one of the many reasons I fight every day. This blog is the reason I’m free, and I won’t stop till everybody’s free, everybody’s happy, and yes, thanks to Dave Matthews, I hope people will walk through the big door and take the perps away. Dave Matthews wrote and sang a lot of songs about freedom, and he was right in saying that black people should be freed from Apartheid. Duh. However, no artist, poet, or writer is writing a story about disabled people’s rights, equality, or freedom unless they’re in a radical org such as the Federation, otherwise known at short hand as the NFB. There are no blind women writing about their experiences, especially in books, except for Sassy Outwater, who I’d like to say is amazingly strong and gutsy like Hilary Clinton, but even more so. Don’t mess with Sassy, she’ll burn you to death in a heartbeat. I want to say, not only is she one of few people who writes about people with disabilities in the accessibility world, but there are very few other women writers who pen such good things like blogs, books, or vlogs or photography about the rape of so many women, and the women with disabilities who can’t speak their minds are everywhere. Voter suppression should be something we talk about, especially for women with disabilities. I think guardians who are jealous want to put those women in a disadvantaged state because they believe this is an able world, that this is not a disabled woman’s world. I’m sorry, but a disabled woman should never be forced to give up what she wants most. I wanted to get married, have a job, have kids, and should have done so in the fifteen years I spent in captivity, or being held for safekeeping by boyfriends. My parents are foolish to think I’d let any man treat me like meat, and there are too many women with disabilities who are treated like such. Can we please force all men and all women of pubic age, thirteen and under, to explore the possibility that consent is real? We must, and that also includes intellectually disabled or blind or physically handicapped/disabled people. Give them sex education, not marriage education. Give them experiments they can do on themselves, good ones, and let them be free to express their love. Let them do it.
Who am I? I am a disability rights activist who never wanted to be one, but I’m in the fight anyway because it happened to me. All of it happened. Life, the guardianship, and the negative assholes–it all happened to me.