The Body Is Not The Only Aspect That Can Be Abled
Update: Going over the comments and other suggestions, I’m finding that Currently Abled (CA) is so far the best one out of all (including better than CAB/M/S). Further comments should discuss CA as I’m no longer in favor of CAB/M or CAB/M/S over just CA.
There’s something that twigs me out a bit about the abbreviation TAB. But first, for those not in the know, let’s go over what it means.
It means Temporarily Able Bodied. It summarizes fairly well the counter situation to many PWD (Person/People With Disabilities). It stands for the group who are, temporarily, in a position of elevation over PWD folk socially (either through visible elevation or through simply not having to deal with what PWD with invisible disabilities have to deal with in attempting to avoid the bs from society). It also describes folk who don’t possess disabilities, in the simple sense, a classification tool used for discourse and community in the same way that PWD does.
It also explains the temporal nature of not possessing disabilities. It just takes an accident, a hidden genetic condition, even the steady movement of aging and really many other things to cause disabilities to accumulate for a person, removing TAB status and forcing one into the constructed list of bodies that are considered “wrong” or “broken”. Temporarily makes it clear that no, you may not be spared for very long, folk (ironically, even though it’s the marginalization that’s the easiest to get smacked with due to the temporal nature of being abled, it’s also one of the most frequently erased and ignored.)
But there is a flaw. A serious, even ableist flaw in the terminology. And that is what twigs me out.
Have you noticed it yet? Temporarily Abled Bodied. You might say, “well, I’m confused. I mean they are able bodied aren’t they? So they aren’t PWD, right?” But you see, the body is not the only aspect that can be temporarily abled. One who is PWD is simply so due to any kind of disability, mental or physical. So those who are entirely not PWD would be inherently abled body wise. But they would also be abled mind wise. Bodily disabilities are not the only disabilities out there. The mind is another area that can be subject to disability and the ableism that folks with mental disabilities; disorders, mental illness, brain injuries, neurological difference, atypical thought patterns and functionality and a host of other things face. This ableism shows itself in words like “idiot”, “crazy”, “insane”, “retarded” and the host of insults built around the autism spectrum and its cousins. This ableism shows itself in the erasure of the thoughts, hopes, mindsets, viewpoints and ideas of those with disabilities connected to the mind. It shows itself in the usage of disorder terminology by folk who don’t possess these disorders as a joke. “Haha I’m so ADD!” or “Oh geez, sorry, I’m so OCD.” or “Man that game was completely schizo”. It shows itself in the term TAB because there are PWD folk who are temporarily able bodied, just not temporarily able minded. The abbreviation constructs body as the only important aspect that can be abled or disabled and acts (probably unintentionally) in erasure of those who are PWD simply due to something like ADD/ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder), Autism, Aspergers, Schizophrenia, Bipolar, BPD (borderline personality disorder) LD-NOS (learning disability), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and a host of other zones.
Then there’s the issue my partner pointed out when helping me proofread this post. Even temporarily is problematic. Some folk never have a disability. Aging doesn’t do too much to them in those terms and some folk have things calm down or disappear. “Currently” is the word being suggested to fix this, so I’m just going to slide that into the terms right now.
This is, obviously, a problem. And it’s one that’s very simple to solve. You see, the word CAB still has use. Folks with disability related to the mental aspect (but none for physical) will not face the same things that folk with disability related to the physical aspect will face (but none for the mental) and vice versa. CAB and CAM (currently able minded) would be perfectly applicable in discussions and discourse about the specific types of ableism that each group faces. But ultimately, the overall term that represents those who are not PWD in any way needs to represent the full spectrum of disability by including all the aspects that are subject to it. Body and Mind.
So I suggest this: Currently Able Bodied/Minded. Or CAB/M (alternately one could just say CABM but I like me some back slashes). I wouldn’t say it’s a perfect solution. Terminology tends to go through many evolutions of adjustment and editing to fit just right. But it’s a good step. Others have other suggestions: see the language note at the bottom. And that’s completely fine. But in the end, something needs to change. The terminology needs to be fixed. Because it is beyond important that the PWD community, one of the only really safe places for folks with disabilities in a world where most groups ignore us or hurt us, does not engage in even unintentional ableism towards its own. The last refuge for PWD folk should be a refuge for all PWD folk, intersection or primary line, either and any way.
So there it is. The case for CAB/M, instead of TAB (or even just CAB). I hope it catches on. I’m tired of half of my disabilities being ignored in the terms.
Filed under: activism | 50 Comments
Tags: ableism, CAB/M, disability, PWD, TAB, terminology