Monday, February 23, 2015

STOP KILLING US/Disability Day of Mourning/#Disabled Lives Matter/#DDoM2015

This post is about Disability Day of Mourning. But before I can post about that, I need to share something else first. I promise you it will make sense when I tie it all together. (At least it makes sense in my head...)

When I think back about some of my thoughts (and comments) from a few years ago, I cringe. "Some things autistic adults say are accurate, but other things are off - WAY WAY off," I remember saying - among other things. (I have long since recanted.) What were these things that I thought were so "off" that were being said by my fellow adult autistics? It was their remarks about parents.  Over and over I read how unsupportive and even abusive parents of autistic (and other disabled) individuals were. How they couldn't accept their children and how they created unpleasant, emotionally devastating environments for them; how disappointed they were that they child wasn't "normal." How little regard they had for their own children and for others with the same (or similar) diagnosis.

"Surely that's a load of crap," I thought. I assumed that these misguided, unsupportive parents must be "few and far between;" there was no way there could be that many "Mommie Dearest" stories. I didn't doubt that such parents existed and I didn't think the stories were fabricated; what I thought was a "load of crap" was that there could possibly be more than a small fraction of people in the world who were actually like that.  

Such horrible families had to be the minority, I thought. My own family was not at ALL like that, and we grew up a poor, black, immigrant family in the Midwest and South. If my family could be loving and accepting, surely the majority of more "typical" families had to be, right?

How very wrong I was. And how I wish I wasn't wrong.

(The following is cross-posted on the Advocacy Without Borders blog here.)

I have began to lose count how many people who are "different" are disrespected, disregarded, and discarded by their "families" for the crime of not being what their parents wanted them to be.  Stuck in a state institution or group home because they have "too high needs." Kicked out of the house for revealing their gender identity or their sexual orientation, or their HIV status.  The statistics on how many individuals who are chronically homeless who meet one or more of these criteria are astonishing.

But those are the lucky ones.

Because there are some even more disturbing statistics: the number of people who are murdered each year at the hands of those who are supposed to love them the most. In many cases, a member of their very own "family." In other cases, a staff person who was charged with caring for them and entrusted with their safety. Whatever the scenario, it is still horrifying. And frequent. And unacceptable.

Jaelen and Faith Edge, murdered by their mother

The following quotes illustrate this situation far better than I could do on my own:

"These acts are horrific enough on their own. But they exist in the context of a larger pattern..."

Ayahna Comb, murdered by her mother

"The media portrays these murders as justifiable and inevitable..."

"The victim is disregarded, blamed for their own murder at the hands of the person they should have been able to trust the most, and ultimately forgotten. And then the cycle repeats."

Mayang Prasetyo, disabled transwoman murdered by her husband

Melissa Stoddard, murdered by her stepmother

"These deaths had little to no mainstream media attention..."

"When these deaths were covered, they were often not given the respect they so deserve..."

Yazmin Payne, disabled transwoman murdered by her partner

London McCabe, murdered by his mother

"Their stories are often riddled with patronization and condescending opinions from reporters...

"Not only does the media often underreport these murders or misgender the victims, but the police often fail to make an arrest or get a solid conviction..."

Bri Golec, transgender teen, murdered by her father

(Quotes obtained from "Disability Day of Mourning" [ASAN] and "BreakOUT" New Orleans LGBT Youth of Color)

Enough is enough today.

Please join us on March 1st as we remember those whom society wants us to forget.  Our Houston event is inclusive of all disabilities; we will honor our both our fallen trans sisters and brothers along with other individuals from the disability community who have been murdered by relatives or caregivers (update: due to inclement weather, the Houston event had to be cancelled). Across the globe we will come together in solidarity to remember their lives and to vow to preserve the lives of others. Not as separate communities, but as one.  Whether at an in-person vigil or via the virtual vigil held annually, we hope you will consider joining us.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

And even more hate...let's fight it with love

After the awful #ChapelHillShooting, a suspiciously timed fire occurred in an Islamic institute in Houston, Texas. And now people are trolling their page making hateful comments. Please see the quote below from Houston minister Lura N. Groen asking for friends to come show them some support. Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, agnostic, Atheist, skeptic, etc...all are invited. She also shared links to their FB page, which I will place below along with the link to their PayPal and their mailing address.

You can send them an affirming message via their FB page to counter the hate HERE.

And/or you can make a donation to their PayPal account HERE.

And/or get their address to mail a check to help rebuild their facility HERE.


Join the #SaveRyanWhitePartD All-Day Twitter Bomb on March 17, 2015!!!

PLEASE join in a virtual all-day social media event happening the week after National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. The date is tentatively set for March 17, 2015, but we are open to date suggestions for a few more days as well as co-endorsing organizations, especially HIV advocacy groups and agencies focused on social justice, public health, human rights, etc. We need you!

For the second year in a row, the President's budget has proposed to ELIMINATE targeted services for HIV+ women, infants, children, youth, and HIV affected families served by the Ryan White Part D program. The combined efforts of global community advocates stopped them once; we can do it AGAIN! We MUST do it again!

From midnight to midnight, let's cover Twitter with tweets about the importance of retaining these critical family-centered HIV services, using the hashtage #SaveRyanWhitePartD along with any other hashtags relevant to your particular tweet (i.e. #womenshealth, #girlslikeus, etc). You can also help promote this issue by sharing about it on other social media platforms. ANYONE can participate; it is important to have both people living with HIV and allies involved.

We will be creating some sample tweets and statuses that anyone can modify for their use if they aren't certain what to say. We will also provide some suggested targets if you want to direct your tweets to certain Part D and/or budget appropriations decision makers. (You can create and schedule your tweets ahead of time if you won't have availability on that day; we'll post a link explaining how to do so for those who might be unfamiliar.)

Positive women, youth, and their affected families don't disappear once NWGHAAD has come and gone; and these services shouldn't be disappearing either.  Please unite with us to ensure that these important services remain intact. And please share this WIDELY!

(Want more info? Feel free to visit for more information on these efforts. Additionally, a great, concise list of talking points created by PWN-USA is available at:

Photo credit: HIV Prevention Justice

Friday, February 13, 2015

#OurThreeWinners Died Because of Hate

This is going to be a very short post. Not because there isn't a great deal to say about the three young individuals in Chapel Hill who were senselessly profiled and murdered for their Muslim faith - there is plenty than can be said. It is going to be short because it thoroughly disgusts me to have to write about these young people in this past tense. They had their whole lives ahead of them. They should still be here, but their stories have been cut short. I don't want to have to write about someone else's murdered children in the past tense. Our society CANNOT ignore or excuse hate crimes as a "quarrel over a parking spot." That is not only nonsense, it's extremely disrespectful to the grieving families. The culture of hate that exists in our nation is what allows such events to continue to occur. It will not stop unless we make it stop.

Photo credit:
Please consider sending a message of support to the two families of #OurThreeWinners. Here is the contact info (given in a Facebook post earlier today):

"Notes of consolation may be sent to

The Islamic Association of Raleigh
808 Atwater Street
Raleigh, NC 27607

You may wish to address your note to the Barakat and Abu-Salha Families."