Photo: Incluse This! Podcast Logo

Episode 7: Amplifying Voices of Disabled Women

Wednesday, February 24, 2021
GUEST: Alannah Murray

Our guest this week is disability advocate and postgraduate researcher, Alannah Murray. She brings insights and experiences from Ireland to our conversation about uplifting the voices of disabled women around the world. We explore the relationship between feminism and disability. And discuss reproductive health rights and social inclusion of disabled people, the inclusion of disabled people in LGBTQ+ spaces, and much more!

QUICK LINKS

As language, perceptions and social mores change at a seemingly faster and faster rate, it is becoming increasingly difficult for communicators to figure out how to refer to people with disabilities. This style guide, developed by the National Center on Disability and Journalism at Arizona State University, is intended to help. It covers almost 200 words and terms commonly used when referring to disability.

DOWNLOAD PDF »

OUR GUEST: Alannah Murray

Alannah Murray Photo 600

Alannah Murray is a disability advocate and postgraduate researcher living in Ireland. Her advocacy mainly focuses on key social issues such as social inclusion of disabled people, reproductive rights and promoting greater inclusion in LGBTQ+ spaces for disabled people. She holds a bachelor’s degree in film and television production and is currently writing a master’s thesis on Disability and Culture in Film. She is the co-founder of Disabled Women Ireland, and in 2019 completed a placement in Washington, DC, as part of the Washington Ireland Program; a program aimed at engaging young leaders across the island of Ireland.

She started her activism journey in her second year of college, while researching her award winning documentary Roll Camera, a documentary exploring representation of disabled people in Irish Film (which you can find here). She has campaigned extensively for equal accessibility to transport, greater funding for students, the need for inclusive education and reproductive healthcare for disabled people. She delivered a TEDx Talk on Disability and Social Inclusion (which you can find here) , and has delivered numerous workshops on Disability & Sexuality, as well as the need for greater accessibility for disabled people in LGBTQ+ spaces.

TRANSCRIPT

Sarah Kirwan

Hi and welcome to Incluse This! I’m your host, Sarah Kirwan, and this is a movement for disability equity. Today, we’re talking with Alannah Murray and we’re talking about uplifting and amplifying the voices of disabled women.

Sarah Kirwan

Alannah Murray is a disability advocate and postgraduate researcher living in Ireland. Her advocacy mainly focuses on key social issues such as social inclusion of disabled people, reproductive rights and promoting greater inclusion in LGBTQ+ spaces for disabled people. She holds a bachelor’s degree in film and television production and she is currently writing a master’s thesis on Disability and Culture in Film. She is the co-founder of Disabled Women of Ireland, and in 2019 completed a placement in Washington, DC, as part of the Washington Ireland Program; a program aimed at engaging young leaders across the island of Ireland.

Sarah Kirwan

She started her activism journey in her second year of college, while researching her award winning documentary Roll Camera, a documentary exploring representation of disabled people in Irish Film. She has campaigned extensively for equal accessibility to transport, greater funding for students, the need for inclusive education and reproductive healthcare for disabled people. She also delivered a TEDx Talk on Disability and Social Inclusion and she has delivered numerous workshops on Disability & Sexuality, as well as the need for greater accessibility for disabled people in LGBTQ+ spaces.

Sarah Kirwan

Welcome to Incluse This! Alannah. I’m really, really excited to have you and I’ve really been looking forward to our conversation.

Alannah Murray

Thanks for having me.

Sarah Kirwan

I love your accent, too. So, if I just stop and listen to that, everyone will know why. ha. I think the first time we talked, I said that too. Oh, it's so soothing. One of the reasons I've really been looking forward to having this conversation with you is because the areas that you work in are areas that I really want to and need to learn more about. So, we have limited time and I just want to dive in because we have a lot to cover.

Sarah Kirwan

One of the areas that you focus on is the connection between feminism and disability. And, I want to read a quote from Buzzfeed contributing writer, Lucy Webster in her article titled the Politics of being me. I have a university seminar on gendered security to thank for one of the biggest epiphanies I've had about myself or rather about the politics of being me. In the midst of a heated debate about how gender is used to control people's movements.

Sarah Kirwan

Suddenly it hit me so much of modern feminism relies on the ideal of female bodies that work as expected. For me and lots of other disabled people, that's a model we simply don't fit. I'm a lifelong feminist and disability activist yet it took until that very moment for me to see that I am not simply a woman and disabled. I am a disabled woman that well-known feminist rallying call. The personal is political suddenly took on new meaning. I realized that things that had always seemed to mere facts of life like inaccessible shops or restaurants that didn't provide a disabled toilet are obviously exclusionary. That every time someone is patronizing to me say, or assumes, I am unable to read, they are not just making unfounded assumptions about the clinical nature of my disability. They are also labeling me as different as abnormal. Nothing could be possibly more political than applying these labels, not just to me, but to a whole group of people who are consistently devalued and dehumanized and feminism showed me how I should respond to this by asserting my humanity and being proud of my differences.

Sarah Kirwan

Alannah, can you explain the connection between feminism and disability for us? And talk about your own experiences with both of them and what this writer is referring to?

Alannah Murray

I'll do my best. So, basically I suppose from my perspective, I've always kind of connected the two because, I can't be disabled and a woman separately. Like I am a disabled woman and everything, comes back to my disability and my womanhood really like, the idea that, we'll grow up and get married and have babies, but as a disabled woman I'm told, that I'm not supposed to do any of those things, like I'll never find someone that, would take me on. If they do, they're a Saint and heaven forbid, I should have kids, because disabled people are seen as a burden and women are seen as that. They take on the burdens of their husbands and it's their job to be the person that's the person that’s there that does all , that does all the cooking, the cleaning, and really carries the house. At least in Ireland anyway, we're still a very kind of patriarchal country.

Alannah Murray

I think for me, it was really important as a young woman to really challenge those ideas. Really I got into kind of disabled feminist activism, during Ireland’s fight to repeal our abortion laws. Basically abortion was illegal because the Catholic church still very much has, or had at least control over most of our Ireland or most of its like education and healthcare were very religiously based.

Sarah Kirwan

That is so interesting and really leads into my next question for you, which is the work that you do around reproductive rights. This is such a broad term. So, I've done a lot of research around that and on what that means as an issue for disabled women. I would just want to read this abstract from an article that, or excuse me, it was a study that's titled Disabled Women and Reproductive Rights, and it was conducted by Virginia Kallianes and Phyllis Rubenfeld. The abstract states, both the women's and disability rights movements have paid scant attention to the concerns of disabled women, especially involving sexuality, reproductive freedom and mothering. Although their concerns may seem opposite of the women's movements, primary agenda, they are based on the same position. Women must not be defined solely by biological characteristics and have the right to make decisions about their bodies and lives.

Sarah Kirwan

Disabled feminists often support reproductive rights, but also have different perspectives on abortion and reproductive technologies than non-disabled feminists. The literature indicates that the reproductive rights of disabled women are constrained by the assumption that disabled women are asexual, which you just mentioned, the lack of reproductive healthcare, contraception, and sexuality information, and social resistance to reproduction and mothering among disabled women. Disabled women are at risk for a range of undesirable outcomes, including coercive sterilization, abortion, or loss of child custody. What does this mean for the day to day life of a disabled woman? Can you explain that in plain language? So we can really understand what we're talking about and why it's important to educate that we educate on this area of activism.

Alannah Murray

So, I first started working, in this in this, kind of the, this space where were fighting against… Nobody was allowed abortions. People were getting on a plane and flying to the UK to have their abortions. There was 12 people a day flying to the UK to get an abortion, access and healthcare in a different country. We noticed that nobody was talking about disabled women. Like they were disabled people in general. I don't like to use the word women in this kind of case because not everyone that needs an abortion as a woman. Nobody was really talking about disabled people in that space. We really wanted to kind of get a handle on that. Our main focus was education, because were saying, look, disabled people, disabled women. These are the issues they're worried about their child being taken away from them. Ireland had a history of putting disabled people institutions and in those institutions, they would be sterilized.

Alannah Murray


It's a very kind of common thing that people would have experienced, but now kind of were able to bond together and kind of say, this is the idea. We gathered our information, from Europe and, on the different studies that were done. As feminists, we kind of said, this is an issue that you need to take seriously because abortion rights are so important, but equal and equity, in access to information to, because some people are living with parents that, wouldn't let them have a child, so they'd get them an abortion. There's so many things to consider there when you take disability and reproductive health care. And, so many people would kind of would push for the sterilization and would withhold the information on abortions because they didn't want disabled people to know about it. At the end of the day, the maternal, mortality rate, I think it was 60%.

Alannah Murray

When you kind of looked at it through a disability lens. At the end of the day, when you don't take disability into the equation, like people will die. It is incredibly important that people have all day have all the information when it comes to, disability and reproductive healthcare. I think it's a really important issue.

Sarah Kirwan

It was kind of the catalyst, or it was the catalyst that moved you and another group of young women to create disabled women of Ireland.

Alannah Murray

Yeah, exactly. It was born during that movement of repealing the eighth amendment. We kind of decided look where a group of young ones that, care about disability rights issues through a feminist lens. We didn't have that in Ireland at all. Most of the voices that we kind heard it was men. I think when Disabled Women Ireland, we had a few people that were like, Oh, why women specifically? And were conscious that we're for everyone.

Alannah Murray

Even though we are disabled women, we are inclusive of trans and non-binary people, but we wanted somewhere where we could kind of look at our specific issues and kind of look at reproductive healthcare, look, LGBT issues, even stuff like conservation or ship, like I'm not part of disabled women Ireland anymore. When I was there, it was about feminism and it was about, it was a family. We wanted to create a community on a family where we build each other up and we elevate each other. They're running a really great campaign. Now at the moment called “Disability Isn’t a Dirty Word.” It's kind of pushing back against the notion that there's a whole lot of ways to say disability. People say differently abled, special needs, all those different things when really they can just say disabled, but they're afraid to say disabled because of the negative connotations associated with the word.

Alannah Murray

Really what they're doing at the moment, I think is incredible on, I think, they should be applauded for all the really hard work that they're doing.

Sarah Kirwan

Yeah. I love that campaign disability. Isn't a dirty word. I, I'm curious to know given how Catholic Ireland is and how much… I love Ireland, by the way. I, my last name is Kirwan. My family is historically from Galway. I visited about, gosh, must've been seven years ago and I just fell in love and they had Kirwan Lane. And so that was fun.

Sarah Kirwan

Anyway, as it stands in Ireland with the Catholic church, having so much control and reach into the political landscape of the country, what was the reaction, the country's reaction to this group of women, young women coming forward with disabled women of Ireland and bringing these issues to the forefront.

Alannah Murray

Disabled women Ireland, I think came after the referendum. People were still very, there were so very raw, there was a lot of, in a way, there was a lot of trauma around activism and people were so exhausted after the repeal referendum and, we'd went through so much, like, it was a lot of abuse kind of online, saying that we never would have been born if it weren't for the eighth amendment. And, if abortion had been legal, we would have been aborted and all of these things. We had to go through a lot, but people have been overwhelmingly nice when it comes to disabled woman, I'm done, they were overwhelmingly supportive, but we do kind of get the odd one where it's like, Oh, I don't see myself as disabled. I meant differently abled and you shouldn't use those words. So, there's still a little stigma around disability and disabled women's issues.

Alannah Murray

Like I think a lot of people are Oh, why is it just disabled women? And, we had disabled men kind of coming in and saying, Oh, what about men? And I think that's a very common thing in all the feminist circles. They'll want to talk about an issue all of a sudden men will come along and think that their opinion is valid when it isn't. Nobody asked, but I think it was really important that we made a name for ourselves and we kind of, we staked our claim that weren't going away after abortion rights. There were so many different issues that were disabled issues, and disabled women's issues. I think it was important…that traditionally able-bodied feminists, we kind of said, look, we're here as well on you need our help. Not that we need your help. You need ours.

Sarah Kirwan

Online, I see a lot of articles about just the divide that the feminist movement hasn’t included women with disabilities. Can you explain that a little bit more? How has that worked historically that disabled women have not been included in women's rights movements?

Alannah Murray

Like I think there's naturally this, idea with feminism that, because one person, is fighting for one issue, nobody else is allowed in and there's this kind of misconception. And, I think the articles don't really help that, one group is against another group, like disabled women can't, support like trans women, like we're all fighting for this kind of piece of the feminist pie really.

Alannah Murray

But, in terms of like feminism and disability and kind of what I noticed is that it was little things like having a venue for traditionally kind of able-bodied feminist organizations were having events inaccessible areas in accessible buildings, or they wouldn't have an interpreter and some would be great and they'd be like, look, we couldn't get one. We couldn't get an interpreter in time, or this is the only space we had, which was fine until it became a regular thing. And, it was clear that it, there was hostility nearly. We had some issues or I had some issues I should say, with people that were kind of, they were like, Oh, we have enough to be doing without worrying about access, but I think it has improved, since, they became aware of the issues.

Alannah Murray

And, they kind of realized that weren't going to stop irritating them and annoying them until they became inclusive, that it kind of, it got better because at the end of the day, you can get anywhere by just being stubborn. I think you can really make a difference by just refusing to, I suppose, bow to able-bodied people. My life got a whole lot easier once I stopped trying to make people comfortable because I just had no interest in it anymore. You know, it's my fight too. And, I think that once people kind of realized that I wasn't going anywhere, they made the access ability needs because it wasn't worth the headache ha of listening to me if they didn't.

Sarah Kirwan

Laughing. Right? Yeah, I totally understand that. It's really interesting that you would talk about the accessibility point, because again, I go back to my research because, I just love research and data. I was reading this article titled inclusion of disabled people in the LGBTQ plus community is about more than accessibility. The writer Yolanda Vargas says accessibility at major queer events, like pride is extremely important to disabled LGBT2SQAIP people, and many of us are willing to provide guidance to make it happen. However disabled people can offer more to the queer community than just insight on how to create accessible spaces. Unfortunately, it often seems like the community at large doesn't want anything else from us, and that we can only exist in queer spaces. If we agree to provide free labor and focus only on addressing questions and concerns about disability from our non-disabled queer and gender queer siblings, this connects to exactly what you were saying.

Sarah Kirwan

And, you're very active in promoting the greater inclusion in LGBTQ plus spaces for disabled people. So, can you tie that back into the feminism and just share with us what your experience has been with this community as well?

Alannah Murray

Obviously, I am a young, disabled, bisexual woman. The LGBTQ plus community is my community, but particularly in an Ireland where there aren't a lot of LGBTQ spaces, people will call it, new that it's a new thing, but, gay people have always existed and by extension disabled gay people have always existed. You just haven't seen us because we haven't been able to get into the door. There are currently no fully accessible LGBT spaces in Dublin where I'd kind of do most of socializing. The only, sober LGBTQ space is upstairs it's up steps. So, it was really important to me, that as a young gay woman, that, I have that community because the LGBTQ plus group as a whole is a community and is a family and, I really, I felt it was important that disabled people should have access to that and they should have access to that community.

Alannah Murray

So, it was really important that any kind of activism I date, it was really about making sure that you, disabled people weren't excluded because being young and gay in a traditionally Catholic country, you feel like you're by yourself. And, you feel like nobody can understand because you have the layer of being gay and then also the added layer of disability. So, I think that for me was kind of the main reason that I, I decided to take up that fight, but, it hasn't been unreceptive to say like, nothing has changed. But, people have been willing to learn. So I think that's good.

Sarah Kirwan

Yeah. You were just talking about your experience in Ireland, and I know that you participated in the Ireland Washington program. In 2019, you actually worked out here in Congress, right? In DC?

Alannah Murray

Yeah. The Washington Ireland program, I actually, I worked for a firm, a public affairs company, in DC.

Sarah Kirwan

What was, how was your experience different from the experience that you had in Ireland as compared to the experience that you had in DC as a young, disabled gay woman?

Alannah Murray

It was an absolute world apart. It was so different. Everything like it, wasn't perfect. Like I could, get the Metro without having to book two days before, and I didn't have to tell anyone, when I get on the bus or when I get off the bus, like I was just able to hop on the Metro and go on the parts that everything were so accessible on. Everything had a curb drop on my workplace was really great. Like they let me work from home one day a week, so I could rest even going out. Like there were places I could go out and socialize with my friends, whereas we would have had to plan and really researched the place before went in Ireland. We didn't have to do that in America because it was accessible. Like I marched in pride, in DC. It was my first pride and it was the 50th anniversary Stonewall as well.

Alannah Murray

All those things kind of come in together. I never had to worry about the route or whether it was accessible because it just was like, they just call it. That was never a question of whether it be accessible or not. Because of course it would be like, why wouldn't it be? Because they were included like disabled people were included in everything. So it was miles different.

Sarah Kirwan

And has that changed your work your activism work in Ireland that experience?

Alannah Murray

Yeah, big time because I've kind of, I've seen what's possible and I've seen what you can do if he, if you have a government that will listen, if you have legislation that works and you have community that even if there's problems that they will pull together, make sure that you're there because you're a part of the community and they want you there. Whereas with Ireland, it can kind of be a case, obviously easier to not have you there.

Alannah Murray

Our legislation doesn't really work like we have this thing in Ireland where it's protected structures. It looks at historical buildings and it was made to kind of help secure the history and make sure that we didn't forget the history, but it also created a world of issues for accessibility. Like you can't, renovate a protected structure. So, historical buildings and that kind of thing, you can put a ramp in and you can put a lift in and they're inaccessible.

Alannah Murray

Disabled people have just have to deal with it. Even, like some of our music venues are in historical buildings and protected structures under just off limits because it was like, well, we're protected. Therefore we don't need to do anything about it. Like, I, I understand what it was there for initially. Like, I understand why it was created in the first place, but what was created flawed.

Alannah Murray

It's very clear that disabled people weren’t part of the process because I think retrofitting something is more expensive in the long run for, you got your money back in spades by including people.

Sarah Kirwan

Well, that's what I was just going to say. I mean, everyone has the right to be able to access public spaces. And I, I think it will be interesting when people listen to this in the United States, because I think that for a lot of us who are activists and advocates, excuse me, in this space, feel like we haven't gone far enough here. Right? We have the ADA, but it's, hasn't been fully funded. It hasn't been fully implemented. We haven't looked at it in years. It needs a refresh. It needs a rebrand, but we have to remember too, that we are at a different point than where other countries are at. And so, it's good for us to know how we can support uplift each other's work, because if we're all together in this and we have a larger voice, we can make a larger impact and we can make a stronger movement worldwide, globally, as opposed to just in each country, if we can uplift each other's work, I believe.

Alannah Murray

Exactly like at the end, like, look at us like this is a conversation between Ireland and the U S. Just two people having a conversation, it's making a difference, no matter how small. I think when people talk about change-making, they think too big, they think that they have to make a massive impact to, make a difference. Every single person, every single movement starts with one person. Like all it takes is one person, doing tiny things. That person can talk to another person and then they can talk to another person. If everyone kind of, done tiny things, they turn into big things.

Sarah Kirwan

Exactly. I literally think I just said that on another episode, I can't remember anymore. Sometimes they run together, but I was saying that sometimes we stare so longingly at this like huge impact or this big change we want to make that we forget to focus on the smaller individual one-on-one personal connections that we make that then, like you said, go from one person to another person and that spreads. I think that what has really been interesting for me throughout this process of this podcast is that I've been able to learn so much more about disability in other countries, Poland. They were, it was in the news that Poland banned all abortions. I immediately went back to our conversation around reproductive rights, and my mind immediately went to, the disabled population in Poland and how that was going to affect them. It starts to change our thinking.

Sarah Kirwan

We start to understand and look at disability on a more global level, as opposed to just within our own communities, which I think is very cool when we start to have that shift in mindset.

Alannah Murray

Yeah, absolutely. It's really about international solidarity and, it's kind of figuring out what I can do in Ireland to kind of help, someone in Poland, like people feminism, would kind of look at it and be like, Oh, I hadn't considered disabled people, because they haven't had to consider disabled people to the more were kind of present in these conversations. The more people are kind of becoming aware, kind of realizing that, everything is a disabled rights issue. Like whether it be housing, whether it be transport, whether it be reproductive health, like everything that people fight for affects disabled people. So, really disabled people should be involved in any and every conversation when it comes to making, because it will affect them. Whether you think that a will or not.

Sarah Kirwan

I love how you stated that. I didn't even really. Yes, I think about that, but not in those specific words, but yeah, everything affects disability, all of the policies.

Alannah Murray

Yeah. Like everything is a disabled rights issue. Like people, when I'm talking about equal access to nightclubs and people say or like sexual health people say, well, how does that disabled rights issue? I can link it back to every time I can link it back to disabled, to disability and disabled issues. People are so surprised, but, disabled people exist in society and they live, they work, they travel, they have sex, they date, they dance, it's all like disability is everywhere.

Sarah Kirwan

We’re people. Who want access to things.

Alannah Murray

Exactly. And I think people forget that.

Sarah Kirwan

Yeah, they do. I think they do. Oh, I want to go back to one thing that you said earlier, not everyone who needs an abortion is a woman. I want you to explain to our listeners what you mean by that, because I think that's a really important point for us to make.

Alannah Murray

When we're talking about reproductive healthcare, there's always a, an instinct in us to kind of say women, it's only disabled women can get pregnant. That really jeopardizes trans people, that can get pregnant or non-binary people that can get pregnant, that don't identify as she, her, there could be someone who identifies as a he him, they can still get pregnant. Like they, them, they can get pregnant, it's not a singular women's issue. Like it is a people's issue and it's a healthcare issue at large.

Sarah Kirwan

I appreciate you explaining that because I think it's really important for all of us to understand that it is a people's issue. It is a human issue, as you were talking about, uplifting and supporting the work globally, internationally, how can we like me and our listeners? How can we support and uplift the work you're doing? And then on a greater level, how can we support and uplift the work that disability advocates and activists are doing internationally to build that community, that international disability community.

Alannah Murray

Social media is really invaluable towards this like, disabled women, Ireland and everything they were born on social media, all kind of the work that they do is social media. In terms of kind of uplift and people at large, I'd say, make space for marginalized people. So, people think that, disability, it's very white when it comes to, disability and activism. People have a habit to prioritize that the people that look like them on, I would say completely disregard that, uplift disabled people of color, uplift disabled trans people and really just give your platform to them if you can, because at the end of the day, I can talk about myself, but I can't begin to understand the barriers that exist for disabled people of color.

Alannah Murray

I'll never understand that, the difference in experience and it's not my place to speak over them on their experience. I think really just diversifying, I think is the thing that you need to focus on, like to disabled rights, need to diversify because if we don't, then we're going to miss a perspective on, it could be a very valuable perspective. So, I think that’s something that’s very important. I think that’ something that’s very important.

Sarah Kirwan

Yeah. I have to tell you, I you're, you speak with such eloquence and strengthen your voice with all of this work that you're doing. It just is like, this is a human rights issue and your messaging is so spot on with that. I just really appreciate everything that you have had to say. What's the most important thing for our listeners to take away from today's conversation.

Alannah Murray

It's that everything is a disabled rights issue, whether you think it is, or it isn't, like transports sexuality, reproductive health, housing, everything comes back to disabled people. Whether, you're organizing an event or a workshop or a seminar or anything that it's important to include disabled voices, but pay them as well. Disabled people shouldn't have to work for free, particularly when so many of them are living below the poverty line and many.

Sarah Kirwan

And many of them are in forced poverty.

Alannah Murray

Exactly. I think the really important thing is to consult the table people, but respect them enough to pay them for their time and their energy, because they are invaluable sources of information.

Sarah Kirwan

It’s so Interesting that you say that because I remember when I first started this podcast and one of the potential guests that I was reaching out to asked me if I had a sponsor and I said, no, I'm just, I said, it's a labor of love. I was laughing, but she didn't think it was as funny. She said, I'm so tired of hearing people with disabilities. Describe their projects as labors of love. There, there comes a point where the projects that disabled people are working on need to be uplifted financially as well to have that lived experience. Also that professional background, that education does need to come with some payment. I do think, but in this space, a lot of people with disabilities are paid below minimum wage, which is legal here. I don't know about an Ireland, or not paid at all.

Alannah Murray

Yeah. Like obviously it's very hard. In the first place for disabled people to get jobs, the disabled employment rate is 4% here. Yeah. Our government was like, Oh, let's, do a really good, let's be really ambitious on in the program for government that was formed. They wanted to aim for a 6% employment.

Sarah Kirwan

Wow. Oh, that's a big jump.

Alannah Murray

Yeah. They are incredibly ridiculous.

Sarah Kirwan

Actually listening to, it must have been a show on NPR the other day. They were talking about how many women have left the workforce just in the last two months. I think it was, I, I'm not going to say the numbers, but really high numbers of how COVID-19 has impacted women. When you think about that from a disability perspective, how many disabled women have been impacted.

Even then you go further and you look at payments, relief packages and our SSI/SSDI programs here aren't offering any additional support for people. I mean, there's just more people are going into poverty at this point. That means that more people are going into forced poverty. I think that we, that people forget to look at, they kind of look at the majority as that baseline. They don't look at the outliers per se, but what they don't realize is that the disability community is not an outlier.

Sarah Kirwan

It's actually a huge community. If we go back to kind of what you said about people who identify or don't identify as a disability, that's also important when we look at who comprises the disability community.

Alannah Murray

There's always this conversation around, disability or person with disability. Normally I'm it's very much like pronouns and it's very like you're ground. You're comfortable enough to kind of self-identify as whatever you want for at the same time. Don't, don't tell me how I should be identifying. Like, I, I use disabled, because it's the label that kind of fits me. And, I've had lots of arguments with people are like, Oh, you should call yourself this. I think when we start having those conversations and kind of, really builds a respect between really it's about respect, but holding each other accountable as well.

Sarah Kirwan

Yes. It's about, for me, I believe it's about conversations like these so that we can be open and have I, well, I'm going to go back to when you and I had the first discussion, and I think the title for this was Amplifying Voices of Women with Disabilities. After you and I had spoken, you were very clear that we wanted it to be amplifying voices of disabled women to really have that identifier right. Of disabled, a disabled woman. In episode one, we talk about, am I disabled enough? And I'm, I stay? I say, I'm still at that point of I'm a woman with a disability. Last night I was actually talking to my husband and were talking about, when you answer questions on a job application or you answer something about a disability, it depends on if you're, are you going by the medical? Are you going by identity model? Or are you going by a social model? It depends.

Sarah Kirwan

All of those things come into play when you're answering a question like that. The point I was trying to make is that having an open conversation where you and I can share that and talk about it and be like, Oh yeah, I see why it needs to be amplifying voices of disabled women. And that understanding comes through conversations.

Alannah Murray

I'm very calm and relaxed when it comes to, am I disabled enough? Like obviously I use a wheelchair, so I'm very invisibly disabled, but I always say to people that if they feel, in any way, it's like, Oh, I have this issue, but I don't know if I'm disabled, if comfortable with using the label, then go for it. Like, I, I've never kind of been a fan of policing, whether, someone is disabled or isn't disabled to know, like if they say they are then, they are, and that's not afraid discussion, like nobody's identity. I feel she'll be debated. Like, if you feel like you're disabled, then you're disabled and that's it.

Sarah Kirwan

Yes, no one's identity should be up for discussion. How much better can you say it? That's what I'm talking about. Alana. Is there anything else you'd like to share with me and with our listeners before we wrap up today's conversation?

Alannah Murray

No, just thank you so much for having me. If anyone is kind of interested in me as a person, you can find me on Twitter @AlannahEMurray. That's kind of where I chat about the kind of activism and, stuff that I'm up to or anything like that. If you want to keep up with me, I'm not very entertaining at the moment. I'm, I'm currently, in rehab after a stroke, but when I do eventually get back out there, I will be doing bits and pieces, so you can follow me there.

Sarah Kirwan

Well, you're almost back out there. I just want to say thank you for being here today for having the conversation with me. I know you're still in the hospital, so your dedication and commitment. Even when I had to reschedule, I just I'm grateful for your time and your insights. Like I said, just the strength of your voice and your activism. And I appreciate all the work that you're doing in this space for us.

Alannah Murray

Thank you very much.

Sarah Kirwan

Thank you.

Sarah Kirwan

And once again to our listeners – thank you for spending your time with us and joining the Incluse This! conversation and movement. Incluse This! is brought to you by Eye Level Communications, LLC, a California-based woman- and disability-owned small business committed to having critical conversations – at eye level – that are necessary to move disability to the forefront of the greater diversity conversation. If you’d like to learn more about the work we’re doing, please visit the website at: www.eyelevel.works You can also email me directly at sarah@eyelevel.works with podcast episode ideas, as well as comments and questions.

Sarah Kirwan

Remember to put your disability lens on when you look at the world, and tune-in next week for another stimulating conversation on Incluse This! – the podcast that’s really a movement. Take care and be well.

Leave a Reply