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May 29, 2017 | by  | in Can Do |
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Access Denied

Disability, Class, Race, Sexuality, and Gender

The links between disability, class, race, sexuality, and gender are multifaceted and complex; a huge Venn diagram of complicated and sometimes conflicting issues that are unable to be separated by clear lines.

The research, diagnosis, treatment, and classification of disability and illness has historically been framed within the context of white manhood. This is the same whether a disability or illness is physical, cognitive, or mental — albeit manifesting in different ways. The classifications of mental illness have been used to target women and people of colour, an attempt to contain oppression by labelling those in oppressed groups who fight against it “mad” and “hysterical.” Homosexuality was listed as a mental illness in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders until 1974.

Autism diagnoses continue to be biased against women, with far fewer women diagnosed because the criteria are framed around men’s experiences. Women statistically spend longer waiting in emergency rooms than men, while pain levels are not treated with the same severity.

There is also the link between disability and class — most accessible equipment is incredibly expensive as it isn’t marketable to able-bodied folk, and isn’t able to be mass produced in the same way as an iPhone. In fact, some of the biggest leaps in accessibility in phone technology have been because of it’s usefulness for able-bodied people — Siri, anyone?

Working class people are also statistically more likely to have disabilities and illnesses — many of them treatable — but have to get by without the support they need. People unable to work (much or at all) can get stuck in a vicious poverty cycle where the government punishes them for doing the small amount they can do or accumulating any savings, while barely supporting people to financially get by. Even before the housing crisis this was a real issue.

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