Reading defiantly: A personal narrative of discovering a disabled self
Grisim, Katelyn Jean
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Disabled individuals face stigmatization because of their body’s impairment (or the biological manifestation of their disability) as well as various socioeconomic and cultural factors depending on their race, sex, and sexual preference. Because of this, it is very hard for a disabled person to embrace an identity that, culturally, signals lack, incapacity, and deficiency. Growing up as a disabled child, I found embracing this part of my identity very difficult. For me, the symbol of the school bus that took me to school each weekday conceptualized the medical model of disability where disability is a tragedy and something to be fixed. It was only when I started reading fiction at a young age that I was able to reconceptualise my disabled identity through emphasizing with characters of minority in literature. Through this process, I was able to recognize my disabled identity as an aspect of my being that I could shape on my own without anyone having to dictate it to me or enforce upon me. Through theoretical discussion, autobiographical reflection, and reading response, I chronicle this time in my life and directly reflect on the importance of reading as a means of identity-making in this thesis.