The dangers of promoting cultural deafness ? (remember the deaf wannabees ?).
A new documentary has revealed a secretive community of ‘transabled’ people. They’re the people with fully functioning bodies, who are disabled by choice. The men and women who say they have the condition claim they feel trapped in their able bodies, much like, they say, trans people feel born into the wrong gender.
The National Post reports that some have gone to extreme lengths to give themselves disabilities or to act disabled. One man cut off his right arm with a “very sharp power tool”, and now calls himself ‘One Hand Jason’, telling everyone it had happened in a tragic accident.
Another dropped heavy concrete slabs on to his legs in order to get them amputated. However doctors were able to save his legs from amputation, and though he now has a limp, he says he wishes to try again until they’re amputated. People like One Hand Jason have been classified as ‘transabled’ — feeling like imposters in their fully working bodies.
The condition has also been known by the medical name Body Integrity Identity Disorder since 2013. “We define transability as the desire or the need for a person identified as able-bodied by other people to transform his or her body to obtain a physical impairment,” says Alexandre Baril, an academic who will present on ‘transability’ at a Social Sciences and Humanities session at the University of Ottawa.
“The person could want to become deaf, blind, amputee, paraplegic. It’s a really, really strong desire.”
Clive Baldwin, an academic at St. Thomas University, says he’s interviewed 37 people with the condition to date. He says one 78-year-old man he spoke to claims to have lived with his ‘transabled’ secret for 60 years and never told his wife. Most crave an amputation or paralysis, and one wanted his penis removed, Mr Baldwin says.
However many trans and disability activists have expressed reluctance to the idea. Feminist academic Professor Baril, himself trans and disabled, says: “They tend to see transabled people as dishonest people, people who try to steal resources from the community, people who would be disrespectful by denying or fetishising or romanticising disability reality”.