an image of the US capitol building

To me, disability is a framework to understand how I interact with the world surrounding me, and how that constructed world, both socially and structurally, impacts me. As a person who is neurodivergent and has a sensory disability, a disability framework allows me to relate and find community with other disabled people, and tools to understand the ways in which the spaces I occupy perpetuate my marginalization or exclusion. Disability also gives me a framework to challenge inaccessibility!

Anonymous QYV contributor

Disability Pride Month is celebrated each July to commemorate the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA was originally passed in July of 1990, so 2023 marks the law’s thirty-third anniversary. It still remains the cornerstone of U.S. laws regarding access and accommodations for disabled people.

This month, we all must strive to uplift the voices of disabled people as civil rights are attacked and some types of discrimination are legalized by the Supreme Court. These attacks especially impact queer disabled people as we struggle to access adequate healthcare while having our rights and autonomy respected.

For me, disability is a community born out of a collective struggle. It is a sharing of poor experiences and coming out better despite all of it.

Mattie (he/xe/it), QYV contributor

Disability is not a Dirty Word

So often, able-bodied neurotypical people dance around using the words “disabled” and “disability.” In order to have honest discussions about access, support needs, and disability rights, we need to use clear and proper words. I am not “special needs” or “differently abled.” I am a disabled person.

Disability pride means to me you should be able to freely express that you’re disabled if you want to, and that it isn’t a “dirty word” or something that people should force you to hide. Disability means sometimes you have to take a different road to get to the same destination, meaning we might need accommodations or modifications but that’s okay.

Edie (she/her), QYV contributor

Fighting for our Rights

Disabled people have fought long and hard for every single right we have gained in this nation. We will not stand down in the face of discrimination, hate, and ableism.

On March 12, 1990, hundreds of disabled activists gathered at the Capitol to pressure Congress to pass the ADA. These activists slowly and painstakingly crawled up the stairs of the Capitol building to demonstrate how it was not accessible to many people with mobility disabilities. Later, another group of activists chained their wheelchairs together inside of the Capitol in protest. 104 of them were arrested.

Individuals with disabilities continually encounter various forms of discrimination, including outright intentional exclusion, the discriminatory effects of architectural, transportation, and communication barriers, overprotective rules and policies, failure to make modifications to existing facilities and practices, exclusionary qualification standards and criteria, segregation, and relegation to lesser services, programs, activities, benefits, jobs, or other opportunities.

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

I have been asked why I constantly talk about disability issues. My response? I will keep talking about disability issues until I no longer need to plan every interaction around my accessibility needs.

My disabled pride is about unapologetically taking up space, not asking for accommodations but demanding them as they are a necessity, not a suggestion. Another aspect is the community it builds. A community built by disabled people means I have less stress about whether accommodations will be “accepted” or not, how intense the environment will be, and whether I will have to fight for my right to exist. 

Mattie (he/xe/it), QYV contributor

Disability pride means liberation for all disabled people whether they’re mentally disabled, physically disabled, or both. For disabled people of color, religiously marginalized disabled people, disabled LGBTQ+ people, disabled mentally ill/neurodivergent people, disabled poor people; anyone with an identity that intersects with their disability.

Anonymous QYV Contributor

Though the ADA provides us with many great protections, it is still constantly necessary for disabled people to fight on our own to ensure that the law is fully enforced. It is exhausting work, and we should not have to do it. However, taking legal action against every single ADA violation would probably overwhelm the courts fairly quickly.

[Disability pride is] understanding that disability is universal, and that disabled people have always created the tools and systems for us to thrive, often in spite of ableist societies and infrastructure. Disability pride is the joy and appreciation inspired by our ingenuity and perseverance, and the celebration of our diverse experiences and perspectives.

Anonymous QYV contributor


We still have a long way to go when it comes to our culture around disabled people. Many of us have been questioned, accused of faking, and laughed off while seeking accommodations or trying to speak out about our struggles. Ableism is always prevalent in our society, and that is not something that can be legislated away.

One of the biggest struggles for me regarding my disabled experience is accepting my need for mobility aids. I used a cane during my sophomore year of high school and it was a major stressor; kids stared at me in hallways and whispered to each other about me and called me various derogatory names, intentionally and not. I eventually stopped using it because I couldn’t handle the whispers and the staring anymore even though I still need it.

Mattie (he/xe/it), QYV contributor

Like Mattie, I hardly ever use my cane around my university campus. It would help me reduce pain and get around easier, but I am tired of the harassment, questioning, and pity. And often if people witness you using a mobility aid sometimes but not constantly, they are convinced you are faking because there is a lack of understanding about fluctuating symptoms and needs.

My experience as a disabled person is that sometimes people think you want to be disabled when we don’t want to; we just want to have a diagnosis so we can access treatments that may improve our quality of life or symptoms. It often takes multiple doctors and years before the cause is figured out, which means we have to live with symptoms in the meantime! We also often get misdiagnosed or told it’s “just anxiety” or “just in your head.”

Edie (she/her), QYV contributor

I’ve been diagnosed with autism since I was nine, but even before then I’ve been mercilessly bullied for it. While I’m glad that a community is growing and the idea about autism is growing more positive, I still see people slinging the r slur around like it’s a toy, people only prioritizing a certain idea on what autism is (mainly low support needs autistics), and pushing out those with intersecting identities (autistic people of color, mentally ill autistics, especially those on the schizophrenia spectrum, autistics with personality disorders like me, trans autistics, etc).

Anonymous QYV contributor

Disabled Queer People

Queer disabled people face both discrimination within the medical community and healthcare systems from queerphobia and exclusion from pride events due to inaccessibility. At the intersection of queerness and disability lies a group of people who struggle to access support for all aspects of their identities.

My disabled identity and queer identity intersect in a few ways. My transness makes my disability harder–doctors are rarely trans accommodating nor visibly queer safe and it creates an extra layer of stress that is inexplicable to a person that does not know the same struggle. Both have the theme of fighting for a right to exist, demanding a place in the world, and radical existence, which helps me stay motivated to keep fighting. The sharing of that theme is essential to my being, I’ve always fought for my right to be and I will never stop fighting.

Mattie (he/xe/it), QYV contributor

Because I’m disabled, I’ve had a lot of people infantilize me and not acknowledge my autonomy, including when it comes to sexuality and gender. When you are disabled, people expect you to not understand things like sex, romance, or even acknowledge ideas of gender. My disabilities also affect how I see gender, especially since I’m nonbinary/genderless. I’m on the asexual and aromantic spectrums as well, which furthers this idea of lessening my autonomy.

Anonymous QYV contributor

As a trans and neurodivergent person, those identities often compound and complicate one another. These identities (for me, personally) intertwine and inform one another. My neuro non-conformity and gender non-conformity are both intrinsic components of my experiences and identification. Not to mention, anti-trans bills often target neurodivergent trans people textually, making this a critical point of intersection in advocacy for queer rights.

Anonymous QYV contributor

This Disability Pride Month, listen to the disabled people around you. You might even learn that there are more people around you with hidden disabilities than you think. Believe disabled people when they tell their stories, and listen to us about the systemic ableism and discrimination in our culture. Strive to change your language around disabled people, and recognize us as people with our own lives, stories, thoughts, passions, and ideas. We are not your inspiration porn. Tip-toeing around disabilities and disabled struggles helps no one. In order to fix this system, we need to acknowledge and educate about the flaws within it.

And to all the disabled people reading this, happy Disability Pride Month. Continue living your authentic lives, and remember that we are a strong community who will fight for each other when we have to. I hope that one day we can all live in a world where we don’t have to hide our disabilities and feel shame from using assistive technology and mobility aids, where we aren’t belittled for needing help, and where we are able to exercise our full autonomy.