An Open Letter to My Conservative Friends and Family Members, From a Young, Disabled Woman in America
An open letter to my Conservative friends and family members, from a young, disabled woman in America:
Whether you’re willing to admit it or not, the upcoming election will have a massive impact on my future as a disabled woman in America. I know you have set political beliefs, and I know that they’re founded on certain principles. So many of those principles are broad, impersonal and hypothetical, and I simply wish to illuminate the very real, dangerous consequences that will affect me and people like me if the country were to continue on its current path.
I am a disabled woman, and I will be one for the rest of my life. I will need doctors for the rest of my life. I will be on medications for the rest of my life. I will probably be unable to hold a job for the rest of my life. At the moment, my family and I are privileged enough to have little to worry about financially, which is something I am incredibly grateful for and I do not want to take for granted. However, things can change in an instant. If anything happens to my parents, my entire future is in jeopardy. For instance, I won’t have health insurance. All of my doctors that we fought so hard to find and secure over the last four years— I will no longer be able to afford to see them. Realistically, how long do you think any inheritance I receive will last when I have to start paying for all of my medical care out of pocket? Or when I have to pay for my own insurance? And once appointments and meds start falling through the cracks, my health will decline, making my ability to find and hold a job even less feasible. Not to mention that in this country it is legal to pay a disabled person lower than minimum wage. I’m sure you’re reading that and thinking “that cant be true”, but think about it for a minute (you can also look it up). Think about all the hoops I’ve had to jump through just to TRY to receive government assistance. As a whole, the system that’s in place is designed to dehumanize disabled people, and to make it as difficult as possible to navigate. Not only that, but (assuming I would eventually be able to get approved for Disability) the system is designed to keep me in poverty. I can’t ever have over $3k in total combined assets. So in order to be approved and to stay eligible, I’d have to spend my entire inheritance and then live with less than $3,000 in my possession at all times, or else my benefits would be stripped away, and I’d be left without income and without insurance once again.
It’s so easy to view political issues as someone else’s problem, but this is my reality. I very likely will need to be dependent on the government in my future. Something could happen to my parents, my financial support system, at any time. As wonderful as it is that they’re hoping to support me for the foreseeable future or the rest of my life, that plan could be stripped away at any moment. Not to mention that there are millions of people just like me who don’t have that option. There are millions of disabled Americans who don’t have the option of being supported by their parents. Millions of Americans foregoing doctors appointments and life-saving medications because it’s too expensive. Disabled Americans in hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt from going to the ER and getting a simple CT scan, or a surgery. According to frontsteps.org, in 2016, 47.6% of homeless Americans were disabled. The only difference between me and them is that my parents are alive, wealthy, and willing and able to take care of me. Without them, in our current America, it’s no stretch of the imagination to say there’s a good chance I’d be destitute.
COVID has not only increased America’s disabled population, but it has increased America’s homeless, and uninsured population. Trump spent a major portion of his presidency rolling back policies his predecessors had put in place. Policies that, whether you agree with them or not, had a direct impact on disabled peoples’ access to healthcare. Trump not only stripped away healthcare from those who arguably needed it most, but he is dismantling things like Social Security, which (although they are flawed systems) have a direct impact on me and people like me. What I just laid out for you is the world Trump is leaving for current and future generations.
I am the first to admit that Biden totally sucks. No one is happy about Biden. No one is thrilled that this is what it’s come to. But Biden has consulted disabled advocates, and has come up with a comprehensive plan to bolster services for disabled Americans. A link to his plan can be found here: https://joebiden.com/disabilities/# . I am literally begging you to just read through his plan. It’s not perfect but compared to current administration it’s night and day. In the next four years, if Trump remains president, the damage he does will have permanent consequences. No one can guarantee that they’ll be able to keep me safe. COVID (and Trump’s abhorrent handling of it) should have proven that already. The current administration could not care less if I live or die. I am terrified of the state of the world right now. My life and my future are at risk, and I really need you to consider and understand that. This isn’t hypothetical, this is a very real and very normalized way of life for disabled people. Either we’re wealthy enough to stay afloat, or we’re abandoned by society and expected to roll over and die rather than inconvenience the taxpayer. I’m sure most people wouldn’t phrase it so bluntly, but that’s the bottom line. I love you and respect your views, I just want to make you aware of things you may have never considered before. I want you to understand how real the consequences of this election are for me and for all marginalized people in America. I want you to know that your vote could make all the difference in how my future plays out.