Sunday, July 26 marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which protects people living with disabilities from discrimination in public accommodations, employment, transportation and government services.
LGBTQ people live everywhere, everyday with disabilities. LGBTQ people are actually more likely to have a disability, and those who live in that intersection are more likely to face daily challenges. We must do more to ensure that all people with disabilities have equal access to employment, housing, health care and more.
We talked with one of our Youth Ambassadors, Sam Moehlig, about his own experience living with disability.
How has living at the intersection of your LGBTQ identity and with disability affected your life?
Living as a trans man as well as with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome has been difficult, to say the least. FAS is an invisible disability. People expect me to respond and handle things faster then my brain will allow. One of the biggest ties between my gender identity and my disability is my very literal black and white thinking — I have trouble seeing in the grey areas. For example, being assigned female at birth, I knew I was a boy on the inside but everyone was referring to me as female, so it was confusing to me. The reason no one believed me when I would say I was a boy, everyone just assumed it was due to my disability and I was having “gender” issues.
This year is the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. How do you think this act has and will continue to impact you?
Thus far this act has helped make going to school and being an active college student easier. The accommodations have given me the help I need to succeed in school, particularly with certain subjects where I used to struggle, I am now thriving.
From accessibility to equal opportunity to protections under law, what do we still have to work toward?
We need more education about all different types of disabilities all over the spectrum, and to shed a light on those who may not have the same level of awareness. Just because you can’t always see them, doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
With the 30th anniversary falling on 100 days out from Election Day, we would be remiss not to mention that people with disabilities are crucial in the fight for a pro-equality majority. What issues are most important to you this election?
The most important issues I feel that need to be addressed are the general lack of awareness and education about people who are disabled, such as having full access to health care and other health benefits.
People with disabilities are a powerful voting bloc. In fact, more than 14 million people with disabilities — spanning all disability types and demographic categories including gender, race/ethnicity, age and religion — voted in November 2018. The disability community is a critical voting bloc. Make sure you’re ready to vote: Visit hrc.org/Vote.