“My name is the best pronoun you will ever use and it’s the first thing you need to get right before anything else,” says Luticha Doucette, an advocate for people with disabilities.
Identifying as nonbinary, Doucette believes that humanity is a spectrum and what can be considered “normal” can be subjective.
“I think people tend to overcomplicate things. When cis-het [cisgendered and heterosexual] women get married [and] they change their names, everyone is kind of able to use their new name pretty quickly,” Doucette said. “The same goes with trans individuals whose pronouns you might not have heard before. You can do it.”
The Divas With Disabilities Project hosted a panel discussion in early November about the intersection between race, disability and sexuality. Divas With Disabilities — a backronym for Dynamic, Illuminating, Victorious, Achieving Sister with visible Disabilities — is a community and digital movement that strives for more representation for Black and Brown disabled women.
Alongside Doucette, other panelists examined and broke down their experiences of growing into their identity. Zarifa, an advocate for people with disabilities who started identifying as a lesbian 20 years ago, now identifies as being bisexual.
The panelists touched on the point of stigma and how there are misconceptions about people with disabilities or who may identify within the LGBTQ+ community.
“I think that’s the misconception about people with disabilities,” Zarifa said. “They don’t feel as though we are sexual beings or [that] we have sexuality and that [couldn’t be] further from the truth.
“I’m always fighting these stigmas and these stereotypes that society puts on,” she said. “We can definitely be sexual beings regardless of your disability or your sexuality.”
Doucette said disabled people are often disregarded for having the desire to be sexual and having sexual feelings. This misconception, she said, correlates to other systems of oppression.
When speaking on her views of bettering society, Doucette advised people to not be allies and instead be comrades, explaining that allyship is distant and removed from the cause and being a comrade is being within the movement alongside those who are more directly affected by the cause.
“How do we actually make things more equitable so that we’re just seen as human beings?” Doucette said. “Because if you’re not seen in the first place, you’re invisiblized within society. It’s like the marginalized and the marginalized are also doing the same thing to you and it’s hurtful.”