The Temporarily Able Bodied

Did you know that disabled people refer to those of you without a disability as the temporarily able bodied (TABs)? The lofty explanation is that disabled is the only marginalized group anybody can join at any time without any choice. You are just one event away from being one of us. Reminding you of this is supposed to help you see that we are more similar than different.

Frankly, I think there is a much more likely but far less noble explanation. It stems from frustration with a world that seems determined to not understand. It’s a mental sticking out of our collective tongues. “You just treated me like crap, but in five minutes you might be me and then somebody will treat you like crap. See how much fun it is then.”

Bitter and petty anybody? Yeah, and I honestly can’t blame us, the disabled. It helps us get through the day without biting off anybody’s head. A constant stream of pity, desexualization, underestimation, being ignored, being treated like an object, and the ever-so-fun being spoken to as if you are four can wear on a person. If we need to think of you as Temporarily Able Bodied to get through the day, then so be it. I’m sure once you become disabled you’ll understand.

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About Jen

After acquiring a degree from Vassar College in psychology, I moved to Western Mass where I ran a peer mentoring network for disabled college students as well as activism and organizing around disability issues. I also conducted research on disabled women’s body image. An Upstate New York native, I eventually followed my heliotropic nature to the sun of Southern California. I divide my time between writing (disability fiction and essays) along with moderating San Diego Bisexual Forum which is one of the oldest groups of its kind in the country. In my off hours I can often be found in my neighborhood live music venue enjoying our local talent.

2 thoughts on “The Temporarily Able Bodied

  1. Don’t forget about being labeled a bother, an opportunist, and lazy:
    *sigh* ‘We’re not going to have to design a whole new lesson for X, are we?’
    ‘You’re only using that as an excuse to skip PE!’

    Anyway, thanks for this blog- it really helps.

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