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When I was picking out my first cane almost two years ago, my partner did all the right things—she showed up and listened to me.She helped me work through some of the internalized ableism I had about using a mobility aid by reassuring me that I shouldn’t be embarrassed and that I was making a positive choice.They already have existing assumptions about our bodies, minds, and abilities.For the disabled partner, this means we need to be honest about where we’re coming from as much as possible.
She doesn’t know what it’s like to get on a crowded train with a cane and find that everyone is staring at her, but she’s willing to listen to how that feels for me.
What’s really critical is that she listens uncritically and believes me; if I tell her I’m extremely fatigued even after sleeping for twelve hours, she doesn’t ask me how that’s possible (because the answer is, of course, that I have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and autism), she asks me how she can support me.
Non-disabled partners need to be understanding in a variety of situations, whether it’s in accessibility planning or navigating life together in an unaccommodating world.
Andrew Gurza, the host of Disability After Dark, a podcast about sexuality and disability, finds this happens to him often when it comes to date planning.
“All of that leg work with respect to what is accessible is bound to fall on me,” he says.
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But my date came over, and ran me the most perfect epsom salt bath.