People with disabilities, chronic illnesses and mental illnesses get asked curious, outright ignorant and sometimes blatantly offensive questions regularly. It’s OK to take a moment to educate someone, but it isn’t your responsibility to answer any or every question thrown at you.
You are not obliged to put up with questions or statements that are hurtful or infuriating. You also have the right to keep your medical information private, even if your disabilities are visible.
Disability advocate Imani Barbarin started the hashtag #ComebacksForAbleism on Twitter Friday after an encounter with someone in an elevator. Though Barbarin wasn’t able to respond in the moment, she had a perfect and sarcastic response in mind.
Some guy in the elevator today pointed at my crutches and said: “you have to be careful.” He walked off before I… https://t.co/gf11D6IuBG— Crutches THEE Spice ♿️ (@Crutches THEE Spice ♿️)1541198431.0
Barbarin told our partners at The Mighty she was annoyed that she didn’t say what she wanted at the time, and that people with disabilities are often “peppered with invasive questions that aren’t anyone’s business.”
Barbarin decided to start the hashtag because “it’s nice to commiserate with others that experience the same thing.” Many people on Twitter agreed and began sharing their responses to questions and statements they’ve received.
Here are 13 comebacks for ableism you might relate to or want to borrow for your next encounter.
Person: So how many fingers do I have up?? Can you see me from here??? Me: Yes, but honestly I kinda wish I could… https://t.co/ygy7lChV8t— Spacey (@Spacey)1541387740.0
"Is it contagious?" I don't think so, but just to be sure, I'm going to stay far away from you. #ComebacksForAbleism— Luca🦄 (@Luca🦄)1541334395.0
CoWorker: Gee, must be nice to be able to park right outside the door. Me: oh, yes, having a disabled tag makes it… https://t.co/p7rEyFuS71— Toni Snark (@Toni Snark)1541399467.0
"You lost weight! What's your secret?" Autoimmune disease. #ComebacksForAbleism— Kealie Mardell (@Kealie Mardell)1541387516.0
@Imani_Barbarin I pass 2 people with my mobility scooter at the coffee machine Woman: Wow, this should be quite th… https://t.co/Ad16X8eslz— Nellz The Goddess (@Nellz The Goddess)1541246333.0
#ComebacksForAbleism - little old lady told me I couldn't have the Disabled park because she wanted it I asked her… https://t.co/rwS8204oNC— Cute Trainer Hannah (@Cute Trainer Hannah)1541234921.0
Them: Can deaf people hear their own thoughts? Me *wide-eyed with my hand on my temple*: NO BUT I CAN HEAR YOURS #ComebacksForAbleism— Sara Nović (@Sara Nović)1541218241.0
Someone recently told me the reason I am chronically ill is from receiving vaccinations as a child, and that the fl… https://t.co/xIw3clJgbI— Michelle (@Michelle)1541315543.0
“So how long have you been in a wheelchair?” “Since about 7am this morning.” #ComebacksForAbleism— Ali Watson (@Ali Watson)1541283377.0
"We need proof of your disability even with these documents." While looking down and gesturing to the giant wheel… https://t.co/0AwdRKPmT5— Taylor VanGilder💕✨@ SMT DDS & GoT S2💖✨💖 (@Taylor VanGilder💕✨@ SMT DDS & GoT S2💖✨💖)1541281606.0
"Is it fun being able to use your illness as an excuse to get out of doing work?" No, it's not fun. I'm frequently… https://t.co/jdbNySLSTB— Elsie Tellier ♿️💖 (@Elsie Tellier ♿️💖)1541262164.0
My Husband: *removing my powerchair via the folding ramp from the truckbed* RandomStranger: Well isn't that nifty!… https://t.co/5AZAY4DKra— Rena.awry ♿ 🏳️🌈 (@Rena.awry ♿ 🏳️🌈)1541400524.0
Person: *looks at my wheelchair.* "I'm sorry." Me: "I'm not." Person: ... Works every time. #ComebacksForAbleism— Karin Willison (@Karin Willison)1541463041.0
This article was originally published by our partners at The Mighty.