Intersectionality and T1D

I’m back! Sorry for it being so long, just been dealing with some serious education stuff.

Today, I wanted to write about intersectionality, and specifically how I think T1D plays into it.

To start, intersectionality describes how oppression can occur from a multitude of different institutions, and that the ways that they interact, or intersect means that they cannot be separated from one another. The classic example of this is feminism. When you think about feminism, images of Rosie the Riveter or Women’s Liberation probably come to mind. Who is included in this version of feminism and who is excluded? I’ll answer the question: white women are included, and non-white women are excluded. This is a classic example because the oppression of women is not separate from the oppression of non-white women, however, the oppression of white women is very different from the oppression of non-white women.

Intersectionality looks at everything from gender, race, sexuality, class, immigration status, age, to ability. The last of which I want to focus on. Before I do that, however, I think it is appropriate to express my positionality. I am a cis-woman, from Taiwanese-mixed heritage, straight, middle class, a dual citizen, 21, and I have T1D. With this positionality come an immense number of privileges, such as having this blog, however, I am pretty far off from the able, straight, cis, white man norm.

Is T1D a disability?

Around this time last year, I started to ask this question because the Canadian Government was disqualifying people with T1D from the Disability Tax Credit. The community rallied together and we’re back in, but it did raise this interesting question. It just doesn’t feel right to call myself disabled because T1D is an invisible illness in many ways. How can I experience oppression if people can’t even tell that my illness exists?

Here is the definition of disability from Webster:

“a condition (such as an illness or an injury) that damages or limits a person’s physical or mental abilities”

People in the T1D community really don’t like talking about the realities that T1D can limit their abilites. We like to talk about how despite the odds, we can do anything. Back to some real T1D honesty though, have you ever had to stop on the side of the road because you’re low? Have you ever had to take a pause on your workout because you’re low? Have you ever missed work or school because you had ketones or were throwing up? Simply, have you ever forgotten something because you were so focussed that day on making sure your BGs were in range? What about complications due to T1D? These aren’t things that we like to talk about, but are realities of living with T1D that quite honestly are debilitating.

This is why, when I state my positionality, I include T1D. It affects the way I move around the world just as much as my race, class, and gender, I presume. As I mentioned earlier, they can’t really be separated from each other. My site fell out last night though, so today my T1D will probably affect the way I move around the world more than usual. I’ll have to consciously not snap at people for the next couple hours.

I hope that this post gets people in the T1D community thinking about how intersectionality may affect peoples’ experiences within it. The experiences of a straight, white, upper class, citizen by birth, cis-man, living with T1D will be very different from the experiences of an individual with the same positionality, being trans instead of cis. When we continue to band together and ask for increased benefits that make living with this disability less debilitating, we cannot leave anyone unspoken for.

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