Oberlin Blogs


October 15, 2014

El Wilson ’18

The name of this post is inaccurate. I can speak. In fact, I do it so often that my roommate could probably write my autobiography by now. Yet, I am rarely heard.

My name is El Wilson; my PGPs are they/them/theirs, and I'm physically disabled. I have cerebral palsy, which means that my brain was damaged around the time of my birth. Because of the damage, it communicates with my body about as well as high school freshmen communicate with their parents (i.e. not well). Cerebral palsy affects everyone differently, but in my case it has blessed me with a pronounced limp, a partially paralyzed mouth, and fine motor skills similar to those of the eight-year-old I babysit. My voice is akin to that of a person who decided that the best way to treat their laryngitis was with several shots of vodka. I spend about 3/4ths of my day in my sexy, sleek wheelchair I've named Xavier.

Let me clear a few things up. First off, I am not a religious, innocent, helpless, naïve, asexual angel. Sorry to disappoint you, but I'm as inspiring as any other white, upper-middle-class college kid. Generally speaking, I don't "overcome obstacles." I simply call them an a-hole in sign language and wheel around them.

I'm not going to tell you that I love my body. Like most Americans, especially those with gender identity issues like myself, there are a million things I would love to change about my body. My disability just isn't one of them. I view my disabled identity the same way I view my queer identity. Yes, it often makes my life more difficult, but without it I would be a completely different person whose life story would have an unrecognizable plot.

Most of the things I don't like about being disabled have to do with the way people treat me. I am the invisible person who everyone stares at. Everybody is fascinated by my body. In public, people whisper behind my back, listen to what I order in restaurants, and tell my parents how "well behaved" I'm being. Some strangers (especially those on social security) are so intrigued that they believe they have the right to touch/hug/pet me whenever they want to. Despite the general public's interest in the shape of my toes, no one seems to want to know how many times I've read The Fault in Our Stars (3), my favorite color (black), or which men I would give up all sexual pleasure to marry (Benedict Cumberbatch, John Green, and Stephen Fry).

Other people seem to think that my life would make a great, inspirational Lifetime movie. Unless the director decided to make a film about stealing fruit from Stevie, a slight Diet Mt. Dew addiction, and a messy dorm room, my story wouldn't even make the first cut. Maybe if they highlighted some of the family drama, TLC could make a 5'1.5'' version of Little People Big World, but I doubt it would run more than one season.

Since film and TV won't acknowledge how amazing my life is, I've decided to try it with the publishing industry. I've been writing creatively since 7th grade. My specialties are overly symbolic fiction, tragically funny memoirs, and emo poetry. I've decided to venture into the world of blogging because I haven't heard one Obie acknowledge their able-bodied privilege; because my winter term project will be more interesting than my drool ever is; and because I may often be speechless, but I refuse to be voiceless on this campus.

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