disability wheelchair disabled
Opinion

Invisible wheelchairs and quantum shifts: Trans and disabled visibility

I can usually move through the world without my transness being noticed, but becoming disabled made me invisible even in queer spaces.

As a mature-age transgender woman, I consider myself fortunate in many ways. 

I am a small human, a little under average female height. I have small hands and feet. 

I am over 60, so I am past my use-by date according to our misogynistic society. 

I have enough turkey neck to hide my larynx. 

Combined, these physical factors plus a nice wig and good dress sense mean I can manage to ‘pass’. 

Passing privilege allows me (with effort) the freedom to move about in the mainstream mainly unnoticed. 

However, passing privilege only exists because of society’s failure to include gender diverse folks as fully equal humans. The sad reality is that passing helps my safety.

I have consciously risked not putting effort into presentation as a ‘stealth’ female. I am seen as a queer. 

At those times, I have endured more aggression and rudeness – and felt that was worth it (in safe environments) because I was being me, without BS constraints, and because visibility advances our call for human rights.

All of this became almost irrelevant last year. 

I had open heart surgery that did not go according to plan, and for a year, my mobility was compromised. 

I needed a wheelie walker, and when I got worse, I required a powered wheelchair for six months. 

My chair came with invisibility, apparently with no off switch. 

I would motor around the shops and people would walk into me. 

I would be waiting for assistance or service and people would walk around me to be attended first. 

If I dressed femme with a wig, people looked right through me, or they might glance at me and look away, embarrassed for my disability. 

If I wore a shaved head and stubble, they did the same. Rarely, they visibly disapproved of my queer. 

The invisible wheelchair worked so well that when I was at a picnic for gender diverse folks, they did not see me either.

Once my very slow rehab allowed me to use the walker, I was standing up and almost seen, but not really. 

I have decided that my disability was not a buggered heart but acute quantum shift.

I have been amazed that while society notices if I stand tallish and queer – though people respond according to their own evolutionary progress – my disability just made me invisible.

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