Why wheelchairs are triggering

As regular readers of my blog will know, my particular BIID variant concerns blindness, not paraplegia. So why are wheelchairs triggering to me? Why does seeing someone in a wheelchair, or talking about wheelchairs, make all my BIID feelings return?

I have spent considerable time contemplating this, and I have come to the conclusion that there are a number of different reasons:

When I read about paralysis-variant BIID sufferers, I draw comparisons with my own feelings about blindness

This is perhaps the most obvious one. In reality, the wheelchair has nothing to do with it but what’s actually going on is that I’m reading about their feelings about paralysis and their experience of being in a wheelchair, and I think about my feelings about blindness and my experience with pretending to be blind. I read their account of getting their first wheelchair, and I think about how I felt when I got my white cane. In short, reading about other BIID sufferers – whatever variant – reminds me of my own feelings, for better or for worse.

Seeing a wheelchair user reminds me of BIID

This is an extension of the previous situation. Because most of the BIID literature concerns wheelchair “wannabes”, either because of amputation or because of paraplegia, one who reads a lot of BIID literature starts to associate wheelchairs with BIID. So seeing a wheelchair user reminds me of BIID, which reminds me of my feelings.

As a BIID sufferer, I am a lot more aware of disability issues

As someone with BIID, I spend a lot of time reading and thinking about disability in general. When I’m in a public place, I think about the accessibility issues that people with different disabilities – not just blindness – may have. Furthermore, I am a lot more aware of disability issues because I have read a lot about the issues faced by both naturally disabled people and disability pretenders. And for me, disability is strongly linked with BIID, and thinking about disability tends to remind me of BIID. So seeing or talking about wheelchairs (or any other disability or assistive aid or anything related to disability in general) is likely to remind me of BIID.


4 thoughts on “Why wheelchairs are triggering

  1. As a paralysis-variant sufferer, you can’t imagine what it’s like for me to have to look at those things on a daily basis. Ideally, I’d like to see wheelchairs banned from public spaces or at least have them all fitted with alarms that emit non-threatening sounds in the presence of other people so that people like us have a chance to turn away.


    • While I cannot condone the banning of wheelchairs from public space, I can imagine how that feels to you. I believe it is like how it feels to me when I see a blind person, except perhaps more intensified because wheelchairs are (at least where I live) a lot more common than blind people.


  2. Or maybe BIID is not about becoming blind or paralysed or an amputee, but “disabled” (an impairment)?


    • No, it’s not about the idea of being disabled. Two pieces of evidence to suggest as such:
      – BIID sufferers say they do not desire the “disability” part of a disability (and in fact many are concerned about the difficulties that acquiring their required disability may cause)
      – Some BIID sufferers naturally acquire disabilities other than their required disability and say that it does not help their BIID (while those that acquire their needed disability say that it does help)


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