On Saturday I marched in the New York City Women’s March. Well, marched is a relative term – technically I wheeled through the Women’s March in NYC. You see, I am unable to walk or stand for more than 5-10 minutes at a time. Thus, marching for hours in a long march is kind of out of the question for someone like me. But, I feel so strongly about healthcare for all and women’s rights issues that I felt I must be a part of the moment and movement. So, I went about doing the Women’s March my way – the disabled way.
The Women’s March organizers had luckily thought about the march participants like me. They had organized a dedicated starting place for those who are disabled. As a matter of fact, we were told to come right up to the very front of the march area and listen to the rally, which we did. I heard from some really amazing people talk at the rally for this march – Rosie Perez, Whoopi Goldberg, and more. All people who feel the way that I do, that women’s rights are human rights, and that healthcare is a right – not a privilege.
But, as many famous people as there were there, they weren’t the true inspirations that I met that day. The inspirations that I met where the other disabled people like me. Not one of the disabled there was concerned with whether or not we could finish the march. None of us were concerned with the fact that we were different than the other marchers. None of is were concerned that people would look, stop and stare at an army of wheelchair warriors thundering down the march route at the head of the march. No – these people were there for the same reason as I was – they had to do this because it was what they felt inside they must do for themselves, and for those like them who couldn’t be there to march.
There were over 120,000 different people at this march. All different shapes, sizes, genders, illnesses, disabilities, sexes, races and it was one of the first times in my life that I didn’t worry about how I looked, or what people would think of me or say about me. Bystanders shouted their approval and clapped and sang along with us as we rolled by. I was apart of a whole, not some strange individual to be stared at. For one of the first times in my life, I felt like I was seen, appreciated, and was thought of no differently than anyone else there that day. It was a once in a lifetime experience.
The Women’s March in NYC taught me that there are people out there that don’t see your wheelchair – they see you. There are allies and friends out in our world that believe I deserve the best healthcare, and I shouldn’t be going bankrupt for it. These were the people like me, who believed that yes, one person can make a difference, and yes – healthcare is a human right and they will fight for me just as I will fight for them.