25 September 2007

Today I was on my way home from a meeting, and I was starving. So, even though my bank balance hates me for it, I stopped off in a restaurant to grab some dinner.

"You look like you could be this person who used to come in here 2 to 3 years ago, 2 to 3 years.... older," said the waiter who cleared away my empty plate.

When he paused before "older" I was expecting him to say something like "fatter" as you could tell he was clearly searching for the most polite word.

Earlier on in this conversation he'd mentioned that this person was a HE.

I know I've got broad shoulders, but do I really look like I used to be a man?

I think he was just doing that thing that so many people do, assuming that there's only one wheelchair user in the world, and we're all the same person. Laurence Clark wrote an article about the phenomenon here. As you can see from that article, I'm not the first disabled person to be mistaken for someone of the opposite gender, because someone has paid attention to the wheelchair, but no other identifying facets of the person in question.

I know my boobs aren't very big, but they are there. This is why I like to wear T-shirts with writing across the chest to draw peoples attention to them.

Today was the second time in 5 days I've been mistaken for any old wheelchair user. On Thursday I was on my way to the Fresher's Fayre at uni, when a member of staff from one of the halls of residence came marching up to me.

"Did you get your stuff moved across alright?"

"I don't live on campus..."


I wonder if there's someone out there still struggling to move all their belongings from one hall to another, just waiting for someone to offer them some help...


  1. "I think he was just doing that thing that so many people do, assuming that there's only one wheelchair user in the world, and we're all the same person."

    Lol, sort of. It's been interesting for me with this sort of thing. I'm in my fourteenth year of degenerative illness. Was able to keep working until four years ago. At that time, you had to be around me a little while to notice my functional limitations. I appeared healthy to casual observation.

    Now that I'm emaciated and semi bedridden it's been facinating to see how most people now meeting me for the first time... it's like they see right through me. Like I'm not there. Hard to describe, but very definite when for about forty years, whenever you made eye contact with others, you could see them seeing you back.

    Now what they see is something like Mister Disabled Man Who is Nothing Like Me.

  2. I have very big boobs. They enter a room before I do. But when I used have my hair short, I got referred to as 'sir', or `he', in bewildering frequency. This has happened when I was in my scooter, when I was walking with my quad cane, and back in the distant days when I was walking (staggering!) independently. I can remember it happening at age 6, 7 on up.

    Drove me NUTS!!! I've now grown my hair longer, and it seems to have stopped, but come ON world, even when I was shorthaired, I had tits!

    I don't know... ;-)