Reasons Why Person First Language Works for Me
Person-first language is one of the ways to talk about disability; examples are, "person with a disability" and, "person who uses a wheelchair." One thing that's not person-first is the language a lot of people prefer for autism, such as, "I am autistic."I believe that both ways of describing disability are legitimate and have their place.
- 1.Having people call me a person makes me feel supported and appreciated. Lots of times I do get called, "Wheelchair." The explicit opposite is meaningful to me.
- 2.I'm not saying that everyone has to use the name that I use, but to lobby against something that works for me because they don't want it seems unfair. I promise to describe your disabilities the way you want me to describe it. You're the one who gets to say; but, then so do I.
- 3.I'm not subscribing to the idea that person first language will make me receive better treatment. But, sometimes, I refer people back to the fact that I'm a person. I have the right to do that.
- 4.Some say, "But, Theresa, why do you have to pull out that part of your identity?" It may have to do with my experiences when I go out in public. The fact that I like pugs or love reading John Irving doesn't affect every interaction. My mobility and people's perception of my body do. It's OK to be up front and talk about it if it helps you make it.
- 5.Bonus: Ultimately, I don't believe there is needs to be a controversy because I believe you should be able to be called whatever works for you. I respect your reasoning and your choices. I'm here to tell you that I'm a person. I'm asking you to respect my choices.