Why do people need to prove their disability to random strangers only to acquire the very rights they own?
An internet user asked, “Am I a jerk for not giving up my seat and embarrassing the woman who demanded my seat?”. Let us know what you think in the comments section!
A few years ago, the Original Poster (OP) (16F) lost her left leg in an accident. She’s been using a prosthetic leg since then, and because OP’s family is well off, it is a pretty advanced one to the point where it just looks like OP has two normal legs whenever she wears long trousers.
“…which I usually do because I’m really self-conscious about showing my prosthetic.”, says OP.
What’s Been Happening Lately?
These days, OP can pretty much do anything she likes without issues like walking, running, going upstairs, etc. The main issue is keeping OP’s balance when there are sudden changes in movement, in places like trains and buses, which is where the topic of this post comes in.
The Recent Train Incident
OP was riding the train and sat down in the seat reserved for disabled, elderly and pregnant women. It was pretty busy.
There were no other seats available, and a few stops later, a woman came up to OP telling her she needed to move because she (the woman) needed that seat and OP shouldn’t be sitting there.
“I told her I was sorry, but I needed the seat myself. She got all argumentative that I just need to get up because the seat is meant for the elderly and I’m just a lazy child who is more than capable of standing,” says OP.
OP’s Ultimate Response
OP again apologized and said she really needed the seat herself. The woman left and got the train conductor, who also told OP to get up from the seat.
OP was really done with being treated this way now, so she rolled up her trouser leg, showed her prosthetic and told her she wasn’t going to move.
The Lady’s Reaction
The woman suddenly got very red-faced and mumbled something before she got off at the next station.
“I could have said I have a prosthetic right away, but it’s a really touchy subject for me and it makes me feel very self-conscious. That’s why I always wear long trousers so nobody can see or have to know. Am I a jerk?”, asks OP.
It Was Inappropriate On So Many Levels
“Not the jerk – No one is obligated or entitled to know your disability. You shouldn’t have to ‘prove’ that you belong in a disabled space. Some disabilities are less obvious or even invisible.
This woman and especially the train conductor had no right to question you this way. It was inappropriate and unprofessional.”
You Did Nothing Wrong
“Invisible illnesses exist, yes you can physically show her your prosthetic but you shouldn’t have to and there are many other people who can’t ‘show’ their illness like COPD or cystic fibrosis for example out of many.
There is a fair likelihood that if you casually said, ‘I have a disability’ she would have walked away understanding but an equal likelihood she would have demanded some kind of proof or demand that as a teenager you can’t be disabled or some other ridiculousness.
You did nothing wrong.”
Not Every Disability Is ‘Visible’
“You should probably report the conductor for accommodations training. You shouldn’t have to reveal your disability, and a lot of people have no physical proof of disability. Saying, ‘I’m disabled and have a right to sit here’ should be enough for anybody.”
You Owe No One Your Business
“You owe no one your business. She was just policing the disabled spots because people like to think disability is always obvious and it isn’t in a lot of cases. You totally did the right thing and sorry it got to the point you had to show the leg.
She can face the consequences for making assumptions.”
You Unnecessarily Escalated The Argument
“You’re the jerk, absolutely; she couldn’t realize you were disabled and you needlessly escalated the argument instead of quickly explaining the issue.”
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