Calum Glendinning-Clark: At some point along the way, I think a lot of us find ourselves asking: “What makes the human condition and what makes us human? Is it something in our ability to relate to each other and feel understood and heard? How can we feel understood and heard if we don't have a voice or if no one is listening?”
I read a piece by Gracen M Brilmyer around one and a half years into my disability from the UCLA disability studies reading list, and helped me to find words for something I felt but couldn't quite place or make sense of when I was thinking about the documentation and representation of disability I'd come across so far.
I carried the weight of this feeling, but it wasn't until I could name and see it that I was able to begin to not just carry it, but unpack and unload it.
Brilmyer writes: “Much historical documentation of disability is produced by those in power, and the voices of those whose lives are affected by such representation are often missing from records.”
This is a quote from community identification and the violence of archival representations of disability. For a long time, I struggled to find honest stories reflecting the things I was feeling, and that I could identify with as someone living in a neurodivergent body. This is when I came across Cr*pple Magazine, an independent publication looking to take ownership for the representation of disability, written by managed and produced all by people within this large minority group.
Cr*pple Magazine founder Emily Flores has been featured in The New York Times and Teen Vogue, and so many other platforms advocating for meaningful and accurate representation and inclusion for people with a disability. It was in finding and interacting with the space Cr*pple Magazine created that I started to feel less isolated.
It is often feelings that drive us before we make sense of them.
So for this episode of divergent, I would like to invite you into the discussion Emily and I had since recording this episode, Cr*pple Magazine has changed its name to Cr*pple Media. This is to better reflect the multimedia nature of the project, as well as all the various contributors. So if you're looking for more or wanting to search more about the project, search under Cr*pple Media.
What's your favorite meme of 2021?
Emily Flores: Okay, this is really like, like, really weird, but I've been spending like a lot of time on Tik Tok, and there's like this Tik Tok that's been floating around, especially in Christmas that was like this cookie with like, weird with like a weird gazed. expression. And yeah, and it was like, really weird looking. But it was a very, it was a very interesting cookie. But I thought it was really funny. So that I think that's, that's my favorite.
CG-C: Um, my first kind of talking point is really to set the mood and it was a quote, I think I tagged you in this on Instagram, I don't know, if you, you're connected to the cripple, Instagram, Cripple Magazine Instagram…
But it was the quote from Grayson M Brilmyer, from an essay, and it says: “Much historical documentation of disability is produced by those in power. And the voices of those whose lives were affected by such representation are often missing from records.” And for me, that really struck a note as maybe not necessarily something I'd been thinking about, but something I'd been feeling around the time I first got involved with Cripple Magazine and I know that you started cripple when you were 15 as someone with muscular dystrophy.
Did you kind of feel that before? I'm interested in whether Cripple as a concept and exploring representations was kind of something that was thought or something that was felt first, if that makes sense?
EF: Yeah, that's actually honestly that's a really, really good question. I feel like this is like, like, I feel like it was definitely something that I definitely felt at first, but I probably, I guess I just like didn't realize it because when I was little, I was I was like a really like, I guess, like a child with problems [both laugh]. What a way to kick this story off, am I right?
No, but like, I guess so basically, like, I don't know, like, something that I really really struggled with a lot when I was younger was feeling, I guess, like feeling comfortable within myself and like feeling
EF: I guess just feeling really comfortable within the space that I was in and, and that was really like confusing because so the time that I'm talking about was when I was in elementary school, basically. And my mom would like always, like, push me to like go to like MDA events where like all other kids with like disabilities would be. And like, I guess, like those events, I mean, they were I went to one, and they were really, really like, cool and well orchestrated. But after that, I never wanted to go to an event like that ever again. And I was and my mom was like, so confused. You'd be like, why? Like, why? Like, she was like, “these events are like, so cool”. And I guess like any mom does, right? Like, they want to push you to like, to these like super cool events. But I just I did not feel connected to them at all. Like, yeah, I did not feel comfortable with the people that I was with. I did not feel like myself. I just felt so so disconnected. And in that, like that age era, I just felt really confused as to why I didn't go, but I just knew that I didn't want to go.
CG-C: That’s so interesting.
EF: Yeah, yeah. And so I guess like that feeling was pretty much repeated. I mean, honestly, up until like, middle school, probably like, and I think this is like something that maybe a lot of disabled people can relate to but I mean, I struggled a lot with like, internalized ableism. like,
CG-C: Yeah, me too.
EF: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, like, in in like, middle school, I would see like other like disabled students, and I did not want to be like, associated with them. I did not want to, like talk to them in public. Like I had, like, a lot of fears. And like a lot of I just, I guess I was just, I was scared of like, able bodied kids being like, “Oh, well, I mean, she's disabled too”. And, like, you know, like, elementary thoughts like that. And so it was really like, weird, like, like, I guess feeling that and balancing all of that. But I guess anyways, like, where I was going with that was like, I mean, I felt like that for a lot of for a long time when I was a lot younger. And I think what primarily causes that or what primarily, you know, enforces that ideas, like having spaces that are meant to be for young, younger, disabled children, but the spaces being like, super, super, I mean, patronizing and, and, like, when they're run by able bodied people, it's like, really obvious, because it's like, they it's just the feeling doesn't feel authentic. It doesn't really feel like comfortable. And, and I think -
CG-C: It's, like an obligation more than a space that's made by people who want to engage.
EF: Yes, yeah, exactly. And I think it's really like, I think it's really something that a lot of like kids pick up on. And I don't think like that a lot of like, adults realize that. And so I guess that was just something that I felt a lot while I was in my youth. And later, when I connected with like other teens with disabilities, I realized that they felt the same way. And I wasn't alone. And that was just kind of something that kick started my train of thinking into everything.
CG-C: I know that if people are listening, that aren't in the community, they'll be like, what's up with that name?
EF: Yeah. So Oh, my gosh, yeah. So that's a really good question. Because I feel like I'm so this I mean, I feel like, whenever, whenever I meet new people, and I'm like, Yeah, and I describe like what I do, or like what I'm studying or blah, blah, blah. I'm like, Yeah, like, I have like a magazine. And they're like, oh, what's it called? And they're, like, see, this is something that I'm still working on. Okay. But I'm like, Oh, it's called Cripple. And they're like, what? And it's just like, it's really, it's really, it's a whole it's a whole like, story that I have to like, I have to explain to them but but yeah, it's definitely something that that I thought was so I guess this kind of like goes back like, you know, to when I was like, first when I first found out about like, the online disability community. I you know, like I said, like, I lived A lot on like Twitter, but I also like lived a lot on Tumblr. I know. Still in 2016. And I use Tumblr. Yes, unfortunately. But, um, but yeah, I was like on Tumblr a little bit. And I noticed that like, a lot online, people, like, disabled people would call themselves cripple. And like, would call themselves like, like cripple, like punk cripple or whatever. And immediately when I saw it, I thought I was like, really, really, like, powerful. Because I was, like, what a way to like, reclaim something, like, reclaim a slur. And like, you know, like, reclaim it yourself. So other people can't use it against you. And I just really, really liked like, that aspect. And I really liked like, the, the people like in the message that was behind and using it, and and, you know, is was like the same kind of like impact, like when I found out even through about, like, the movement of like, ‘Slut Walk’, you know, like these women that were like walking down streets and like calling themselves sluts. And I thought that was like, so powerful, too. And they think that when a group like kind of like chooses to reclaim slurs, I think that it becomes so much more powerful. And I think it was just when I first saw that I was just like, wow, like this is I mean, absolutely amazing.
And I saw how strong, like the community was because of like, reclaiming that word. And, and I just, I really, I ever since I saw it, I really, really liked it. And so anyway, when I was kind of I was when I was kind of like brainstorming on what like this magazine could be I was, I was picturing like something that, you know, that was obviously going to be honest and representative of what disability is, and like, what, what it's like to be young and disabled, right? And like, and of course, like center, like young people, young people with disabilities in the mainstream media, but also like, produce truthful and actually honest representation of disabled people. And because I think what was most frustrating to me when I was like, when when I became a journalist, and also like, when I was a lot younger, too. I mean, every, like, single thing that I saw about myself online, or like, on TV or in like in books and movies, it was just like, so not true. And it was just so like, it was so frustrating, because again, we go to like the same topic of like going to these charity events run by able bodied people. And you feel like so disconnected and you feel like so um just patronized against and like, yeah. And just like, not authentic. And so I mean, and so like, whenever I Saw movies, like ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ or like ‘Me Before You’. Like, yeah, those movies are in books, like, it was just so oh, actually, I have to admit, I just, I want to admit that I was a really, really big fan of ‘The Fault in our Stars’, but I was twelve so.
But, um, but anyway, like, I guess like, media representation of like disability, and like, young people with disabilities, it was just so frustrating. And like, also seeing like, videos on Facebook of like, oh, look at this football team, ask out this little girl in a wheelchair to prom, like, it would like stuff like that. It was just so honestly, it was just gross. And I really, I really just, I found it, like, horrible. And so misrepresentative of who I was, and who, like the people that were like me, like, they were not like, like they, I mean, that pieces of media was not representative of us. So I knew that when I was going to create this, I wanted it to be as honest and as representative of disability and as, like, representative of what being young with a disability was like, and so when I was kind of like thinking about that, I'm like, kind of like thinking about like those, like core values.
I felt like, you know, like, kind of, I thought like, what, what it would mean to have something like named “Cripple”, because like when you when you like, hear that you're like, Oh my god, like who would ever like who would ever Name something “Cripple”. Like, that's literally the worst idea I've ever heard. But like you would I mean, no other people would name something like that except disabled people. And so yeah, it's like, and the reason like why, like, I guess like the reason why people able-bodied people would think that is because they already have the wrong idea.
about disabled people in the first place.
CG-C: Yeah, that's what I was gonna say. I think if if it's able bodied people that are taken aback by the jarring-ness or the seeming kind of, like, inappropriate ness of that word word, then it's totally appropriate because they're the ones you want to kind of be hitting with the language because of the kind of very, like, clumsily, used attempt a clumsy attempt at using language that is soft, and maybe more comfortable for them to use when describing someone with a disability, rather than the fact that they're not even thinking about that person's identity as just being another person on a spectrum of experiences. So to kind of hit them over the head with a word just seems totally appropriate.
EF: Yes, yes. Oh, my gosh, like you hit it on the nail. I mean, that's exactly right. And like, I feel like also, like a really big thing that like able-bodied, like, tend to have difficulty with is like, you know, they like, they're often like, Oh, well, you're not disabled, you're differently abled. And like, that's like. I mean, that makes everyone cringe.
CG-C: I didn't get it, like where they're coming from, but…
EF: it's just like, it's so like, definitely, like, when I first heard it, I was like, okay, like, when I was like, I think I first heard it when I was like, 13 or something. And when I first heard it, I was like, it seems like a good intention. But it turns out to be more patronizing than like not saying anything.
CG-C: I mean, how much more overtly can you subject someone to otherness than calling them differently as the prefix to the noun?
EF: Like, you're the one that's thinking that disability is an uncomfortable thing. Like, I never said it.
CG-C: Don't they understand? I mean, I guess maybe they think differently abled, like, I'm not so great at that guitar. I'm differently abled, and then you're like, whoa, that's like, also a very patronizing and belittling way of understanding it. How about, we look at like, concrete things that make this an experience?
CG-C: And cripple is like, I mean, it does have a certain level of violence, I guess, is a word. But it seems appropriate to use that if that if it - I mean, you're you're demanding that someone listened immediately by using that word.
EF: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And I think, like, I think, ultimately, I think that's what I I guess, like, I really, I guess what I wanted to do, because it's, it's just something that like, you know, it's, it's obviously shocking, right? It's like, Oh, my God like this. That's the worst thing ever. But I think, you know, when people are, you know, just told the blunt, like, truth. And like, just, you know, told like, the blunt reality of what things are like, what, you know, what this message of disabled people is, like, I think like, that is like, probably, like maybe the most effective way because I think I just because like I've seen so many organizations and so many different projects that, you know, of course, maybe they're run by able-bodied people, or maybe they're like, run by, maybe by some disabled people, too. But I think like, when you have like names that are just kind of, like, more palatable to an able bodied audience, I think that may not be, you're probably telling a message that already reinforces for, like, ideas about disability that able bodied people already carry out, you know.
CG-C: Yeah, because it's already being filtered in a way that's more suitable to them.
EF: Exactly. And so, I thought that, you know, like, I mean, the magazine to me up into that point, like, represented everything about like, disrupting, like, archaic ideas or like disrupting, like, just perceptions that able bodied people have. And so, I felt like, you know, the name needs to really be like, representative of what this magazine stands for, and what this what the core values are. And so, I was like, you know, I mean, what a better way to name something that disabled people, you know, have already like, reclaimed as part of their truth, you know, and introduced that to able bodied people who don't know this?
CG-C: Exactly. And I think it's important to note that that's the name of the project the magazine, it's not the identity of everyone who's writing for it. Whether they choose to use that word or not. It's it's the it's the name of the publication to make the point that the publication is trying to make.
EF: Exactly, yes.
CG-C: And that that's not saying that's still leaving the space open for those people who participate in contributing to each identify with whatever word they they particularly like.
EF: Absolutely. Yes, absolutely. Because I think, yeah, that is also like a really big thing. Because I think like, I'm also like, like, when, you know, displaying a movement, then people already, like automatically assume, oh, you identify as a cripple, like, wait,
CG-C: yeah, exactly. That's Yeah. And you're like, the whole? No, that's not the point.
EF: No, no, no, no, like. Yeah, like, that is like, a really, really like, like, a good point is that like, you know, this is more like, representative of like, something that the disability community has voiced out about, like, has like, talked about and like, has kind of like repainted something. And so it's like, kind of like more of a introduction to what, maybe what you didn't think disability was about, you know.
CG-C: I mean, you guys, you've been featured in The New York Times Vogue, affinity magazine, like all these different things, and I'm curious as to like, do you think that the more mainstream publications are, you know, like, looking to give, like, again, amplify voices in the same way you are? Or just a kind of show attention of something slightly different that's happening or looking to be like tokenistically inclusive?
EF: Yeah, I think that's a really, really good question. I think that is something that publications that are, you know, intrinsically Oh, wait, that's not a word. Um, yeah, like, I think like, publications that are fundamentally like, able bodied and like, are run by able bodied people. And especially, I mean, the biggest mainstream, like outlets are all able bodied run. I think that they will always as much as inclusive and like, as much as umm like, yeah, I guess like as much as inclusive you want to be, you will probably in some way. Be a little bit like ablest in some way, or like not being inclusive enough.
CG-C: Right. Okay.
EF: Yeah. And so I think that, like, I definitely really love I definitely really like how, like, these mainstream media outlets are trying to cover and include disabled voices and like diverse disabled voices as well, but I don't think that they're doing enough. I definitely don't think that there's enough like disabled reporters, I definitely don't think that there's enough like, disabled content creators or disabled audio engineers, or podcasters, etc, etc. And so I think that's like, a really, really big thing that, like, you know, as much as you say, Oh, you know, like, we, we, we fight for disabled people. But if you're not hiring them, then like, what's the point of saying all that?
CG-C: Yeah, that's so interesting. I was talking about this actually, yesterday with a friend of about, cuz I was thinking about why, you know, the story stories, things that are featured in like Cr*pple Magazine, or even things that we've spoken about with the title. Why don't they I mean, they do get a lot of attention. But why is it the, you know, the more palatable stories of overcoming adversity in terms of disability that do better. And I was like, Whoa, it actually makes sense, because there's more people who don't have a disability in positions of power or influence or that work within forms, whatever culture of representation that is, over people who do have that experience, and therefore, it wouldn't make financial sense to market to the minority, despite being the largest minority group. It's not going to generate as much return and maybe it's too uncomfortable. And I was like, that's a really interesting point of contention because everyone who's looking to push like progress with forms of representation that Cr*pple Magazine is doing, you want more than most people to, to be interacting with it, right? You want people to read the stories and engage with the content. But you also want to maintain the integrity of what you're trying to do.
CG-C: Does that often cross your mind?
EF: Yeah, I mean, absolutely. First of all, like, I think like, your point is, like, really, really, like, it's really powerful. Because, like, you know, as much as like a disabled or sorry, as much as an able-bodied editor, right, let's say like, like, at a really like big media outlet, as much as they would want to push for like, a super progressive piece about disability, they probably would not ultimately go with it. Or if they did, they would get so much backlash that they wouldn't publish anything like that ever again. And so, yeah, and so yeah, it's like, it's like, as much as you want to be progressive with like an audience and like, with a staff, like, just so monolithic, like a being able-bodied, like it's, it becomes really, really difficult to push those ideas. And so that's why like, to me, I think it's like the only like, the only possible way to do it is to have a publication that is not able-bodied run, because that way, like, you know, those ideas can get published. Yeah, and can get edited and can, you know, fight through maybe unpalatable audiences that are not used to this type of content? And so it's, it's definitely like, I think it's definitely something that is not, you know, it's not right, because it's like, Why are like mainstream media outlets choosing to go down the path of least resistance? It's like,
CG-C: Yeah, that's what I feel.
EF: Yeah. It's like, you know, like, um, you know, there, especially with like, political landscapes and everything, like, so many things. So many different things are changing. And I think it is, it is, though, like accurate, that I do feel like a lot of the media outlets are, are they are like covering issues, and they're like, covering diverse issues, but it's not, you know, we go back to the same score. It's not enough. It's like not, you know, the reporter is probably a white sis able-bodied reporter. And it's probably not like understanding or really like understanding the the depth of the story that they're reporting on unless, like, you know, failing to do it justice. And so, I think that's that's kind of what happens with maybe a lot of stories that, that, you know, that happen in real life, but they don't have like the diverse reporters to cover it.
CG-C: Yeah, for sure. And I think the flip side of that is, then you have, you know, the classic, someone who actually does have a disability, and it's my belief that they don't necessarily want to do this. But if they want to be successful, in terms of like, if the story they're trying to sell, it makes more sense to make it more relatable and pander to a larger audience of people that can relate to then like, rather than, this is the only benefit I can get. So I can't get an affordable house, and I can't get around, I can't access my community. They'd rather it's if we frame that as like the mental struggle over adversity, then it's like, oh, well, we can all relate to that. We don't have it does. It's not specific to that person's body. So it is more easily sellable. But unfortunately, as a consequence, it belittles the subjects that are the most important to people who are thinking, well, I feel alright in myself, but I'm still having these problems. What's going on? And yeah, so cripple that, like you're describing the maintaining integrity will always give a place then for that person to turn. Who is having those questions.
EF: Yeah, absolutely. And I think like, I really, I really hope that like, you know, that it's, like, I guess that like the magazine or like, you know, Cr*pple continues to like, you know, be relatable to other disabled people and everything. And like, I think that in, in every like, media outlet and like in every, like mainstream media outlet, I think that they always kind of like when they want to, like cover, like something like diverse, they always kind of like get into a struggle or like conflict of like, you know, of audiences not receiving this like story well, or like being confused. I mean, like, if you go to like the Facebook comments, there's probably like a whole slew of like Karens and like mums that are like so confused by like, the type of like story or like, or like just plain out, like don't agree with it. And so I think like, at the same time, like I think it is really important like to maintain like, integrity like of like the staff and like, maintain the integrity of like, the stories like at Cripple. Because I think once like, maybe like a story becomes like too, too palatable or, or too maybe even like unpalatable, then I think like it becomes, it becomes difficult for like anyone to like, really like digest it.
CG-C: That's a good point. Yeah, the flip side of that is it becomes too, like, I don't know what the correct language to use is when describing this. Um, like someone or something that would be more appropriate. Kind of like voice to a friend or like in a diary entry or something. Yeah, it's just like pure anger but without necessarily an insight or a solution. Or an exploration that could have this, it's pretty much the same thing. So you're kind of treading on this tightrope? A little bit.
EF: Yeah, yes, exactly. Because I think that, um, the unfortunate reality is that like, you know, ever since 2016, we've been kind of like, in a super, super divisive, at least, you know, like, in the US political climate. It's been so so divisive, like, and especially with like, so much like, like, online, like propaganda, and like, just so much of like, that stuff online. People have become, like, super, super divided. And like, there's, I mean, I truly believe that there is like a war on like, on journalism, because it's like, people do not believe in journalism anymore. Like people do not believe like reporters, they choose to believe, like, Youtubers instead, or like, posters on Reddit. So, yeah, so I think that's like, really, really, like, that's really dangerous. And I mean, it is a definitely a threat to democracy. And so, anyway, like, where I was going with that was that I think that whenever, you know, a piece, let's say if it was like too, quote unquote, unpalatable, I think that, you know, if an able-bodied person were to come across Cr*pple, they're like, Oh, my gosh, like he said, you know, Oh, my gosh, like, who would name a magazine like this? And then like, they, like read the stories, but like, they don't really, like fully understand because maybe, like, the content is so like, exclusive to disabled people that it's not like, reachable. Um, yeah. And so I think that it's really like, important to, like, you know, develop super honest stories, but also, like, develop, you know, maintain the, the, the ethics or not the ethics, but maintain, like, the, the guidelines of like journalism of like, truly developing each angle of the story and like, truly, like, explaining the story, and like, explaining the stories of the sources and, and everything like that. And so I think
CG-C: I like that. Yeah. Yeah.
EF: And so like, I think that like that, when it is, you know, really, really good journalism that, you know, and it's run by like, diverse people who, you know, who carry a story to justice, then that is, like, literally, like, the best thing you can do, you know?
CG-C: Yeah, I'd be interested to know, was there was it a gradual build up? Or was there a process of which you were like: Okay, if this is my experience, I'm gonna have to carve out my own space, where I cannot only express how I'm feeling but invite the other people who are feeling similarly with a disability. And I guess it was a drive to create a space for them too?
EF: Yeah, absolutely. So I guess like, so. I kind of was in like that, like really unevolved, immature phase. Like, like, probably like, seventh grade ish, probably.
CG-C: Yeah. I think everyone's guilty of that.
EF: I feel like and then I also went through like a Nirvana phase in sixth grade, which was weird. I would never revisit that phase of my life ever again. But I don't regret it but it was really cringey.
CG-C: It's a great way of describing the past. I don't regret it, but it was really cringey
EF: And I'm like, Oh my gosh, I just wish. But But yeah, like, sixth and seventh grade were of course, like, really, really, just embarrassing. But in eighth grade was when I felt like I, I was like becoming really, really comfortable within myself. And I started to be like less shy. And that was actually like when I started to, like, read more, and I guess become more curious about myself and become more curious about, like, who I was and who I could be. The could be was still really terrifying, though. Because I, again, going back to the representation thing, I never really saw someone who was like me, and I never thought that the people who were like me, were actually like me.
CG-C: No, no, no, that makes sense. Yeah.
EF: And so like, I guess, like, that part was really, really, like, confusing. And really, I don't know, I guess I just I didn't imagine myself. I didn't imagine like what my future could be. And I think that was really, really scary. Because I mean, my friends knew what their futures could be, but I didn't.
CG-C: Yeah, I think that's so interesting, in that a lot of other people, I guess, have a role model or concrete figures as a teenager to kind of drive not necessarily towards but at least give them a sense of direction, if that's what they want to know, to be replicated in some way. But when you don't have that, you have to actually look to yourself and create your own. And that's kind of what people learn a lot later in life, I feel is, you know, just copying isn't good. I need to be more introspective and start to create a life that I want. And do you think that's part of an experience that you were forced into a lot earlier?
EF: Exactly. Yeah. I think that I think that in those moments, I think that I didn't really, like I wasn't, I didn't really like think about it. I don't think I was oh my gosh, can you hear the train? I'm so sorry. I live like, I live like two feet away from a train. And in 3am, it gets, it gets wild. It gets Oh, my God, that train is so annoying. Okay, thank God it left. But anyways, what I was saying was that, I think when I was that age, I wasn't really like conscious of it. But in the moments where I was, like, most upset and like, the moments where I like, I remember so vividly, a lot of moments at night, where I would like cry to my mom, like, my face would be so flushed, and I would be like, so frustrated, like, just telling her about how I didn't feel like I just wasn't happy at school. I just, I wasn't happy like talking to like, a 40 year old woman. I'm not knocking on 40 year old woman by the way, but I just I didn't I didn't feel happy about it. I didn't feel like I could. I always felt trapped at school. And I really, really remember those moments vividly. And anyway, like those moments was when I felt the most isolated and the most frustrated of like, of feeling that man, I really wish I could see what my future could look like. Because Yeah, I just I feel so alone. And I feel like, I feel like I'm the only one that's going through this. And those moments I felt it the most but it I guess like that pretty much continued, honestly, in my whole like, like, school career, but in eighth grade was when I felt like I began to feel most comfortable. And coincidentally, that year was also when I got a helper that was super, like respectful to my boundaries.. Yeah, we really synced really well. And it was it was a really like game changer for me. And and that year was you know, when I also got like, a group of friends and like I started to feel like a lot more comfortable within myself and and so that phase of my life started to slowly like become less loud. But it definitely still continued. I mean, it definitely still is a theme in my life, I feel like but I guess like after that it kind of like closed a little bit. And then in high school was when I started to feel a lot a lot more comfortable within myself. I still struggled a lot with like, helpers at school and everything. But I started to really I think freshman year honestly, it was when like, I really started to recognize and like, take pride and like accept disability as my identity. Because that’s when I started to like, go online. And like, Oh, wait, I actually remember a specific moment actually. Yeah, so like, I remember, in my freshman year of English class, we were actually like, we were assigned to do like, like an essay about something that like, sounds like so like, cliche, but we were assigned to do an essay about what, basically like what, what do we think is the human condition? Like what?
CG-C: Oh, that's a good question.
EF: Yeah. It was like a really not that I think about it was a really hefty prompt.
EF: I don't know, like how 14 year olds juggle that. But yeah, and so I didn't know how to juggle it. Um, but I guess I just started to like, research on disability on the internet. And I remember I literally, I found Jillian Mercado, she's I don't know if you know her. She's she was the first ever model with a disability to be signed with a worldwide agency, a modeling agency.
CG-C: Oh, no, I don't know her.
EF: And I think I think she was signed with IMG, but I don't think she signed with them anymore. But she, she did like really, really cool campaigns. And she was a model with muscular dystrophy. And when I found her, I was like, Oh, my, like, holy shit. Like, this is huge. And then like, I started like to do more research. And then like, I got like, on social media, and like, just did more digging. And then I found like, an online disability community. And, I was just first of all I was, I remember feeling really, really shocked, like, feeling like, wow, like, I can't believe I found this. And I've never, like I wasn't in this earlier. Like, it was I felt like I was I was filling a void that I'd had all my life. And I was finally filling it. And it was just so it was really, really, just so nice. And really, really being and I would not, I did not make any friends yet. But just simply like reading like tweets of people who looked like me. And were like relating the same experiences that I had. And like, we're talking about the same topics that I was going through at that same moment was just like, so game changer. And it was just so it was definitely really, really just nice to feel.
And so anyway, I guess, like in that in freshman year was when I started to, like, really just be glued to Twitter all the time. I was, like, in love with Twitter, because that's, I guess, like, that's where like, I would like follow, like, the huge like disability activists and like all of like the people on there. And so I would just stay there all the time. I would I mean, I would mostly be on the internet anyway. But I just felt really, really connected. And and yeah, I guess like that was really like, the moment and like the I guess like, the moment that I knew that, like, I felt I knew that I wasn't alone. And that yeah, that's just kind of cheesy, but no, but it's it.
CG-C: I don't think people, I don't think it's necessarily said enough that actually being excluded, if it's through the experience of a minority group, or whatever it is, is a form of kind of like perpetuated trauma as an experience. So to connect is very much not necessarily a solution to that trauma, but at least something that will help you at least start to understand it and find a place
EF: Totally Oh my god. Yeah, that's literally Yeah, that's so true. I mean, I can't, I can't. Yeah, that is really true.
CG-C: Yeah, I want to know your answer to the question. So what was what what was the thing, the human condition? From that, from that experience? What was the answer to the question?
EF: So I don't think I actually did not do a really good job on this essay. Silently dodges the question [both laugh]. But so I ended up doing like the essay on like, fashion and disability and I ended up like saying that, like different, like, different experiences is what makes the human condition but I guess I was like, Yeah, I mostly did like an essay about like, the under representation of people with disabilities in the fashion industry and like, clothing specifically. But yeah, it was like, more of like, like, I guess more about like the underrepresentation of clothes of accessible clothing that disabled people.
CG-C: Okay. Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. So, kind of, I guess clothes is a place of belonging for a body that isn't fixed.
EF: Totally. That's Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
CG-C: I mean, that's a good answer.
EF: I think. I didn't do too well. But, um, but I guess I just I thought of that because clothes were also like a pretty big facet of my life that I didn't really realize that it was. Because when I was like, a lot younger I, like I would like, you know, up until like, of course, everyone's mom dresses their child at school, but like when I started to like, dress myself, like in fifth grade, I was like, ooh, I'm gonna try some new clothes. But I really only ended up like, like, dressing myself in like, sweat pants or like loose stuff. I'm like,
CG-C: Yeah, cuz it's easy.
EF: It's easy. And it's so pleasurable. Because like, every time I tried jeans, like I would literally like be in pain for like, eight hours. I definitely did not want to wear like sweatpants and sweatshirts, but I mean, it was like, the most comfortable thing and like, I definitely didn't want to, like wear jeans. Oh my gosh, and much less shorts. Shorts, ugh. But, but yeah, like, I just I really, really hated it. And I guess I just, I didn't really realize how much I like, kind of, for lack of a better word, I guess like longed for, like dressing to how I really felt and how, who I really like wanted to be and like, I guess yeah, I think it's really important. Yeah. And like, I guess I just, I didn't feel like, I had the opportunity to like, play with those things and like, and just try to figure out who I was.
CG-C: Did you have to do the thing? Where if you wore pants with pockets on the back, because you're in your chair, you have to chop off the pockets? They used to make me do that. So I didn't get pressure, you know, from the stitching?
EF: Oh, yes. Yes. Oh, yeah. I know what you're talking about. Yeah. I actually, I never, I never had tried that. But I've heard about it.
CG-C: I remember just encountering that. And being because I was obviously just acquired my disability. And I was like, oh, my God, I need to really start learning more. Because I haven't thought about this at all. And I don't think if people don't hear stories, like the one you're describing, they wouldn't think about fashion as even being something that needs to be accessible. You know, how, like, what, at what point is that? How do you ever see anything except for the experience of it that would be about clothing, even being marketed as something that's accessible? That isn't like, a medical device supply? Or that?
EF: Oh, my God. Yeah, right. Yeah, that's, that's a really, really good question. Yeah, I mean, but also like talking about, like, the medical part, that was also like, a really, like, a big thing about like, my feelings toward clothing is because, like, I felt like, I felt like and this also kind of goes through like representation as well. But I felt like every time like, I looked up images of like, disabled people, clothing or links, abled people fashion or like, some thing like, like that, it would always, like, go back to like, like, old people in like, you know, walkers, or whatever. And, you know, or like, just people with like, medical devices and like, yeah, and, you know, for options of like, accessible clothing, there's really no other options except, like, you know, medical stuff that are sold by, you know, yeah, medical stores. And so, I guess like, that was like a really, really big thing that like, kind of, like, alienated me from like, my relationship with fashion was that like, I I just didn't really feel like I could, like, you know, dress comfortable comfortably and dress accessibly. Um, yeah. And so about so I like I would always wear like, sweatpants or like, or leggings. I still wear leggings though. Um, but yeah.
CG-C: I think Yeah, I but I think as you go on in time, you like, prioritize, okay, this is the time when I want to like dress as if that's just a normal thing. I think everyone does anyway, not that, I guess is normal. But you know what I mean, for comfort.
EF: Yeah, totally. Totally. I mean, yeah, that's honestly so true. And so yeah, I mean, I just did I never really like, I guess, like, feel like I could. And actually, this is also like kind of a weird thing too I guess. Like, when I was in elementary school, I had like a tomboy phase. And I just, I guess, because I felt like I couldn't like, dress and like, the clothing that I wanted. I felt like disconnected from like, being from being feminine and like disconnected from femininity. And so that was like, really also, like, really confusing. And just but I mean, yeah, I mean, I think like later, this also was like, really weird. Like, when I, I had a scoliosis surgery, and that was probably like, the biggest surgery I ever had. And I had that in fifth grade, I think, yeah, and fifth grade. And after that was like, it also kind of like changed the game for me, because my confidence grew. And like, I could also wear more clothes for me now.
CG-C: Yeah, it's massive, it seems, I think it seems, I guess to people who haven't had that experience, they would think oh, but that's not one of the priorities it's inter, but it's a huge part of your identity and kind of what you were talking about before about finding a space. And I only have a trivial story that slightly touches on that experience in that my foot has spasticity from my spinal cord injury. So my toes are clawed up. So and I like at the time of my injury, I just used to be skater of a skate all the time. So I just had all skate shoes, I didn't have any other shoes. And then when I was in the rehab, they were like, Hey, listen, you need to wear these, like boots, like these boots that were a bigger, like, had a higher raised toe cap bit on them. And I was I just remember, I remember thinking to myself like that, look, it shouldn't matter to me. But why does it? Why does it because I, you know, before my I would have thought, Oh, you know, it's just image. It's not important. But when I was there, and in that space, it did matter to me. And I was this weird kind of thing of like, Is this like a small trivial or it's could be perceived as trivial example, of a switch in my identity with my new body. And like what I have to do to accommodate that, and like how I'm going to express who I am through that.
EF: Absolutely. Oh my god. Yeah. I mean, absolutely. I think that is also like another big thing. That like, I feel like the smallest moments like have like, wow, like, in the moment, it's like, oh, this feels like really trivial, like you said, or like really, like small. But like, ultimately, like kind of like ends up like being a really big thing or like taking part of like a really big thing in shaping your identity. And so that's so true. I mean, I really relate to that, because I kind of felt the same way. Like when, you know, before the surgery and wasn't really like nervous about it. That's also probably something though, that like I probably did to like, not really, like confront my emotions. But -
CG-C: yeah, I think we all do that.
EF: Yeah, definitely. But, but yeah, I wasn't really like nervous. And then, after I did, I didn't really like, um, I didn't really foresee, like, the changes that I would like, as far as like, confidence wise, what would happen after the surgery, so that was like, really, really, like, big for me. But, but yeah, I mean, it totally changed the way of like, how I approached clothes, and it totally changed the way that um in how I could buy clothes. And definitely, like being a wheelchair user, you know, it definitely like there's still a lot of problems wearing clothes today and buying clothes.
But I would say that like, definitely like, the way that like the fashion industry is now it's definitely like, very on inclusive to, to like disabled bodies and disabled people and like, it's it's definitely like, just having like a magnetic like, closure is not enough.
CG-C: Yeah, they're the ones I've seen. Yeah. I mean, I don't know heaps about that world, but that's the ones I've seen people talking about ones with the magnetic bits.
EF: Yeah, yeah.
CG-C: Yeah, I'd say that's probably my experience with the small this small example with the shoes. And what's so see when what we're talking about and these lack of spaces or lack of resources or lack of thought, in terms of accommodating different bodies was that or particular in fashion was that at the time when you got the idea for a Cr*pple or had Cr*pple already kicked off by that point?
CG-C: Yeah. So so that's a good question. So, and freshman year was like, when I started to, like, be more like introspective. I started to like, you know, be like, I was becoming aware of like, a whole online disability community. And I was like, amazed. And so at that point, I actually, that was when I started writing online, I started, I got my first job ever, which was like, so exciting and surreal. I was super excited to talk about disability and talk about, like, the problems that I was facing.
EF: And so having that job kind of enabled me because I, I was forced to, like, you know, look for sources. And I was like, Oh, my God, I hate interviewing people. Like, I like, when I was told to do that. I was like, No, please, I will literally, I'd rather put my head in a bucket of water than like do this [both laugh], it was so painful.
But yeah, but I later realized that it was so like, valuable to, to not only like my professional life, but also like, to my personal life, because that is how I kind of like I was kind of pushed to meet people in the online disability community and meet people who were just like me and meet people who could represent what my future could look like. And so when I was like doing articles and like doing like, investigative stuff, I had the, like, honored to talk to you, like so many cool people that had disabilities that, you know, we would talk about, like issues like, the first article that I ever wrote was about the under representation of disabled teen girls in pop culture. And one of the angles that we explored in the story was about like the the hurdles that actresses with disabilities face in Hollywood or in pop culture.
CG-C: Yeah, we touched on that in Episode One. Did you Have you listened to it?
EF: I actually I haven't. But I need to.
CG-C: That's okay. Emily, Emily said about, um, they said about, like, artists residencies, and model like, photo shoots, and things being available. But if you're a wheelchair user, you can’t even get in the place to do your hair and makeup and, and whatever else it is you need to do. There's no thought behind. Okay, like, let's incentivize this as something inclusive, but let's not make it inclusive.
EF: Totally. Yes. Totally. And, yeah, I mean, that was like a really, really big thing. And, like, talking about, like, just having, like, the opportunity of like, talking about, like, those issues with, you know, like, some of them were obviously like, older than me, I was like, 14, and they were like, 20, or 19. But it was still, like, so rewarding, like, having the opportunity to talk to these, like people. And like…
CG-C: That's amazing. So you were 14 interviewing people?
EF: Yeah. Yeah, it was very, I was very nervous. And I was very scared. But yeah, but it was just so it was really, really, like, so nice. And like, so rewarding. And, and that was what ultimately, like, what made me meet people and like, made me I guess, start to really, like, talk to other people like me, and it was just so it was really, really like an invaluable experience. Yeah, and so anyway, so what I was going with that was like, and so I started to become a journalist, and I started to like, meet people and everything in the online disability community. And when I started to, like, especially connect with, like, teens with disabilities, that was like, really, really big. I mean, that was like, I felt like, I felt like that was what I was missing. You know, and that's right. Like, I was missing that like, my whole entire life. And so yeah, and so I guess like the combination of like, feeling that there definitely should be like, more disabled storytellers and more disabled reporters and more disabled creatives in general and, and also feeling the feeling of like, of, you know, feeling like home when I was in the online disability community were so intense and I knew that I wanted to, like create like something for like disabled people, but I didn't know what and so I kept thinking about it and I didn't really like ultimately come to the idea of like forming like, a magazine or like anything like that until, I think it was like my sophomore year of high school. And so and so yeah, it was, it was definitely like the combination of like those feelings of like, feeling at home online and like, and having the ability to connect with those people and seeing the lack of representation in newsrooms or in like, just creative spaces was really like, yeah, just frustrating. And so I thought, like, hey, like, I think it would be, you know, what better way to like spread representation than like, doing it with a group of people rather than like, cuz I mean, like one reporter is, I mean, obviously, like, you know, a reporter can like, tell good stories, but I mean, a group is definitely way out numbering one single person.
CG-C: Yeah. And a single person's voice. You can't speak for the one of the largest minority groups in the world, which is on this, like, infinite spectrum.
EF: Totally. Oh, my God. Yes. Yeah, totally. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah.
CG-C: And that I kind of champion Cr*pple for that, in that you have such a diverse range of not not necessarily physical or mental experiences in terms of like, a disability, but age, range, gender, race, the whole, a whole huge spectrum, where it's really just, like a publication - this is my understanding where you're thinking, okay, how can we just give representation to voices that would otherwise probably not be heard?
EF: Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And I think, what I, I guess, like what we really like, want to, like, what we really like strive for is like, um, like, another big thing that I, and a lot of people, I think notice is that people tend to have the ideas that when they think of disabled people, they probably like, think of like, a monolithic idea of like, a person, which is like a white cis, and, yeah, you know, privileged. And so I think, and so like, I think that when I was encountering, like the online disability community, I mean, it was just like, I was learning from, like, so many, like, huge, amazing, like, diverse activists. And I think that able bodied people and like, you know, of course, like the able bodied gaze in society, like, perceives disabled people as not like being diverse or like not being not being capable of like, holding more than one or two identities. And so I thought, that's also a really important thing to do. And like, also really important, like, thing for a newsroom to have, especially.
CG-C: Yeah, because I guess then, not only are you giving people a chance to, and trying to amplify their voices, but as a publication or what a project in itself, it is like, a whole variety of these points on a spectrum that as something in itself, you just look at it for two seconds, and scroll through what stories are there. I would hope that you would realize that very quickly, and be like, oh, this is a magazine about disability, but it's about all these different things. What does that mean about disability?
EF: Yeah, yes, yes. Yeah, absolutely. And, and like you said, like, I think also, a lot of people don't realize that this is literally like, this a disability is literally like, the largest minority group in the world. Like, I know of course it's going to be, like, literally so diverse. And like, I think that's a lot of that's one thing that like, able-bodied people, maybe like don't, you know, they definitely do not pass the mic, or they definitely silence disabled people on.
CG-C: Yeah, because I think it's the largest minority group, but one of the most underrepresented which is just so strange. In that regard, was the see when you were starting and even now, actually, I'd be interested to know what were there any, like? A lot of these ideas we've spoken about and experiences are obviously personal and came from you interacting with people firsthand. But was there anyone really putting together projects like other publications, like independent kind of underground publications being like, hey, look, this is what's going on? Or this is how people feel in this community.
EF: Yeah, so like, that's a really good question. So, um, when I was when I was writing, in high school, I remember but I came across a ton of different there were at the time, there were a lot of, I guess, I guess that also has to do with like, maybe the political atmosphere, but at the time, there were a lot of like, teen run independent zines that were flourishing. Yeah, yeah, there were a lot of like, teen run, and like, zines for teens that were that were popping up. And I remember, I remember like, and this was probably at the time this was, this was not like a new zine, because the zine has been around for like, this is probably like the veteran zine. But I remember Yeah, I remember coming across a Rookie Magazine. Do you do you know, Rookie Magazine?
CG-C: No, I don't.
EF: So So Rookie Magazine was a first ever was the first ever teen run magazine. And it was for it was for teens. And it Rookie was like, it was so so big. And I think it was started in like, 2013 or 2014, I think. And it was really like, honestly, like the first ever like, online publication. That was I mean, it was literally like, it exploded. It was really, really famous.
CG-C: Yes, because that’s quite early for that kind of thing.
EF: Yeah. And it was, yeah, especially like, in that time era, I was really, really like, it was not really like common for people to just make magazines or people to just make zines or publications like that. And much less for like teenagers.
CG-C: Yeah, that's what I was thinking like, an online as well.
EF: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it was, it was super unheard of. And so I just remember, like, coming across that too. And I just remember, like, feeling so inspired, and like, wow, like, I didn't know that like that would be like possible. And I didn't know that. Like that would be. I just like it was just so the publication was just, like, so influential and so powerful. And so just like their voices were so moving. And the creativity was like, I mean, it was just so inspiring. And, and so yeah, I mean, I just remember, like, feeling really, really inspired about, like, designs like that, and like, and just feeling excited about, like, about the different things that so many young disabled people like me can do.
And like, and yeah, just, I guess, feel excited about about creating, like content about different kinds of content, like not only like, journalism, but like also, like, you know, illustrations, or like print zines or like different stuff like that. So yeah,
CG-C: Yeah, and it seems appropriate, if you're going to have a publication that's reflective of a spectrum to have all the representations as a spectrum too. But the thing as well, that I think is, first of all, I want to know more about it anyway. But I think it's really important to mention was, like, okay, you have the idea, like, so you see, see, have these experiences, see, maybe have interactions with other things that are influential, lots of people have ideas, but you at especially such a young age then went on to make that idea into something which has to contend with this idea of accessibility or not idea experience of accessibility.
So like, if I sat down by myself and tried to start to pick that out, I don't know, how I would start to do that. And, you know, to develop these platforms that you use, like, to keep everyone connected and for people to submit to different editors, and to accommodate people's ability to attend an appointment at this end of the world, and that end of the world, because you have people from all over the world contributing. Like how did that actual that's, I'm really interested in how you thought about that in a pragmatic way.
EF: Yeah. I think that's, that's a really good question. I mean, I think, I mean, at first I was, I was like, really, really, like, excited, like about the idea when I first started thinking about it, but like, I guess, like I in the past too like, with, like, previous, like, hobbies or like projects that I've like, picked up, I would like, I would think about them, and I would like, plan it out. And then I would get like really, really scared. And so I think that that was one thing that I actually like, that happened to me a lot was like when I was kind of like planning this out, and like just getting and just like thinking about this more I like I was obviously like really excited and like really, like inspired about everything, but I was also like, really, really like scared about, like, a lot of things like what if like, you know, this just like goes haywire or like what if? What if this just doesn't like launch at all? Or like, what if I'm not good enough. I'm like, I guess like, there was just like so many things that I felt like really, really nervous about.
But I don't know, I guess I just, I felt, um, I just I felt like I really wanted and, like, needed to do something for like, for other teens like me and I, and it just like, the feeling of like, feeling so connected with people and like, feeling so represented was something that I, I kind of like wanted to extend for other kids and like for other, maybe younger people. And so I guess that's that's like kind of like what ultimately like, drove me to like continue on with it. I was definitely I was still like really, really, like stressed out about it and like really, like nervous. But yeah, it was just something that like, I guess like I, I like I logistically I planned out and, and I was just like really, like excited about it.
But and also, this is gonna sound weird, but maybe it was also, I guess, like, prior to that too though, I didn't really have like, I mean, of course, like I talked to like, a lot of I talked to like a lot of like sources and like, I heard like a lot of amazing stories. But I still I didn't really like have like friends that were like disabled. And so I think in some way, like me creating that was also like me wanting to have like, like a community and like I guess like me wanting to like, foster that for like other people.
And so and so yeah, I don't know. And, and also just like seeing, like, you know, with the power of like the internet, I mean, almost like anything's really like, luckily, like, available and like accessible to us. And so I just thought like the more like diverse writers from like, like different parts of the world, like not only because I feel like so many zines and like publications are so like, American Central. Yeah, like so like, I'm just I don't know, I think it like focuses a lot on like, one specific part. So I don't know, I guess I just wanted to, like, make it really open to like everyone and like have just as much as young people as possible. And I think I opened this in the summer, was it the I think it was a summer. And so luckily, I had like, a lot of more time in my hands. And so I guess I just kind of, I think sometimes I I tend to I realize that I tend to like just jump off a cliff. Without without without like, kind of double taking, which is really bad.
CG-C: But I guess you're forced then into figuring it out as you go.
EF: Yeah, yeah, definitely. Definitely anything. When I first started, I don't know, I think like definitely the cool thing about it is like, kind of like, we're all like learning together. And we're all kind of like, figuring it out as we go and like and I don't know, I think just like the nice thing about it was like forming relationships along the way. And like, I mean, the closest friends that I have are literally like from this from Cr*pple. And so it's just like, yeah, it's so it's just so like, awesome. And like, like just I don't know it, it really feels like home, you know?
CG-C: Yeah, yeah, I was. I thought when I first I was exposed to Cr*pple and kind of the organizational process behind, you know, getting each person to submit their work and organizing that. I was like, it does kind of make sense for this to be so well organized, because it's a group of people who are forced, in many ways to be organized in their everyday lives. Like you can't just if you're if you use if you use a wheelchair as a mobility aid, you can't just leave the house spontaneously because you might not have a curb cut, or you might not be able to get in the building that you want to go to.
EF: Right, right. Yeah. Oh my god. That's literally wow, that's literally like so true. Hmm. I mean, you know what, I mentioned this to my therapist, because this is a really influential thing. Like, cuz, no, that's literally so true. Because I feel like as disabled people, like, we never have like the privilege of having that or privacy or just like, having the privilege of being like, Okay, I'm gonna do this today, or I'm gonna do this other thing today. And yeah, that is really, really true. I think like a lot of our lives. revolved around like planning and like, managing and like, even like directing, you know if if you have like aids or whatever. So, yeah, I mean, I think that's like such a such a big thing. And I and I think that is one thing that like I just one thing that like, I guess I didn't realize that like, my life is revolved around. Yes, like, so I graduated high school like, I think Wait What year is it? Now now two years ago 2021 oh my god, it's finally 2021. But yeah, so I so now that is turning turn on I think Yeah, so I graduated high school about a year ago, or I guess I can say two years. Yeah, I'll just say two years ago. Yeah, and so, and so anyways, when he graduated high school, that phase for me was really, really, like, just really difficult for me.
Because afterwards, I, you know, I got accepted to college, everything. And I was like, so, so excited. And I was just like, I was like, Oh my gosh, like, after high school, like, I'm gonna be like, this totally new person, and I'm gonna be like, this totally have this totally new life. And like, because most of like my high school career, I was just so unhappy. And just so like, I just really, really, I was not, I did not like high school. And it was just, it was not a good. Yeah, it was just not really fulfilling for me. Just like, I had a like a lot of problems like with speaking up for myself, and just like a lot of things like that. And so when I graduated high school was like, Oh my gosh, like, this is gonna be so good. Like, I'm gonna, like, have a new life blah blah blah blah. But then after, like, high school, I decided to like, immediately, like, become independent and like, move into an apartment.
CG-C: Yeah, that's huge.
EF: That was like, I literally that I did jump off a cliff and I did land on my face. Because that was like, that was I mean, it definitely was not a definitely was not by no means a bad experience. But it definitely made me grow a lot. And it definitely like, I mean, definitely, like, I was totally naive into thinking that graduating high school was going to, like, solve all my problems for me. Because what ended up happening was like, my problem was just like, carried into college like I, I still have, like, I, when I first like moved out, I realized that I knew absolutely nothing about my disability, my disabled identity. And like, it was just really, really confusing. And just like so frustrating because I really struggled and like learning on how to like, be with helpers throughout the day, and how to, like, speak up for myself with them and like how to establish boundaries. And those were like really, really difficult when, you know, in high school, I was, you know, with my mom and like, I was just on autopilot with my mom. And so yeah, it was just it was really difficult, but I definitely did not I will not change that experience because I learned in groups so much and I learned so much about myself and so much about like, my identity as a disabled woman. And it was like really, just really fulfilling. Definitely, yeah.
CG-C: You just have to find your way.