Gender, Physical Movement, Permission and Waiting


USA Today reported that a majority of disability-related complaints filed with the Department of Transportation cited airline wheelchair service as a big problem.

Failure to assist passengers in chairs was the number one complaint. Passengers:

also complained of damaged chairs, poor seating arrangements, inaccessible aircraft and excessive waits for stored chairs upon landing.

How I moved through the physical world changed as more and more hormones transitioned my body into a semblance of male. Physical deference, a sense of physical safety and an awareness that I had metamorphasized into a big guy” solidified in my mind that significant physical changes to my body changed how much physical space the world granted me. And, that land grant,” if you will, also changed my perception of myself. The world and its inhabitants conspired to let me explore as much as I wanted to. It was my right.

Race” and class” and gender” and youth” and aged” and fat” and disabled” and impaired” are constructed, in part I think, by how much physical movement we grant each of these labels. The constriction of a disabled person’s movement happens because we let it happen. In small and large ways, known and unknown, we agree as a society that folks with impairments get a small range of movement. I know this may sound harsh. But there is no power outside of our individual and collective actions, unless you believe in some Higher Power that has time to guide every action of every person in the world.

Of course, my dear astute readers will say, you think we don’t know that. Yet I still find it astonishing to have gone through this shift in an everyday, ordinary kind of way. My physical world expanded.

So I’m always on the look out for how we grant, shift and proscribe other people’s physical movements because of the label we assign them (usually based on the perceived type of body they have).

And I wonder about folks whose world we contract. What options are never available to them? How much of their life energy is spent justing moving a short distance in our world?

As our society ages, more and more physically mobile people will live with new confinements. Many of them, I think, won’t put up with it. These folks, after all, came of age in the sixties. Some of them have lots of money to spend harassing the airline, auto, building and transportation industries to return them a greater movement through the world.

Life transitions should never constrict movement. But they do. I have been blessed with greater physical movement through my transition. Though we currently construct my body as a sack of bones and flesh granted greater physical movement than just about all others, this permission is a right. It is not a privilege for a few nor a fact” that I must resign myself to now that I am a man.

We have created worlds and granted these permissions and restrictions. I believe we can change them. Call me naive. Yet, I wonder, who else created these conditions?