Coping in Isolation: Gabriel – COVID Video Series

GABRIEL, 27, Toronto, Canada

Gabriel, a non-binary person with curly, short, brown hair, large, white, round glasses and a fluffy cat.
Gabriel lives with an undiagnosed neuromuscular condition

Gabriel is a non-binary podcaster, drag king/gender performer named “Can-I-Bliss,” a disability rights advocate and educator. They have an undiagnosed neuromuscular illness as well as a multitude of syndromes, including orthostatic intolerance, chronic pain, and chronic fatigue. Gabriel uses art and drag to demedicalize themselves and the multiple aids they need and have needed to function over the years. Gabriel says you should always remember ‘your highness’ is a gender-neutral pronoun.

In Gabriel’s video, they speak about the current situation in Canada, triage plans that put people with disabilities at a disadvantage, and discrimination in health care.


COVID-19 Video Transcript


I have physical health problems; I have mental health problems. I have complex PTSD from medical trauma. It is super traumatic to go through the medical system undiagnosed. It is also traumatic to go through it as a queer person. I am a trans, non-binary person. And I am also queer in my sexuality as well. And going through the medical system that way was difficult. And because of those experiences, or however it happens on the brain, I also have anxiety and depression. So this quarantine is really really affecting my mental health. I feel like I reverted in my mental health, like, I took three years back in steps in my mental health progress within the month.


When the quarantine happened, our services for disabled people in their homes were cut. So, I don’t have any way to do laundry. I am walking pretty well right now, which is nice, but in a few hours, I will need my walker. And in a few more hours, I will only be able to use my wheelchair. And because of that, that increases the stress, the anxiety and decreases the self-worth. When you look over and you see a giant pile of laundry that you can’t do yourself.


Canada has decided to give people who are laid off 2000 Dollars a month. And is not changing anything about the disability system except giving us a one-time emergency fund of 100 Dollars because that’s going to go real real far. It makes me feel so devalued in my society. Our triage protocols are that if you have a chronic illness or an intellectual disability, you are considered lower on the list for a ventilator, literally causing eugenics. And that has really impacted my mental health. Knowing that if I do get this, I won’t get the ventilator. The medical health complex is ableist, racist, and anti-indigenous itself. But it is literally telling me that it is more advantageous for them that I should die, just because I have a disability.


…that we are systematically devalued. That our life is considered less than yours in the way the system is built, in the way the system is practiced, and in the way, many people treat us. And even in the way that you may subconsciously be treating the people in your life around you. And right now, we are particularly sensitive to those things. So if you are talking to a disabled person right now and you say something that usually doesn’t get you a little quip back, but you are getting a quip back from us on that because you said something that wasn’t okay, we are going to be quicker to correct you right now. Because we are under attack, and this is not an attack on you. It’s an attack on the way that we as a society talk, interact and include disabled people. And if by doing that, we have to attack language, it may seem like we are attacking a person, but impact and intent are different. And if you have caused an impact that was not your intent, hear what the person is actually saying. Hear that your intent was genuine and wonderful but that your impact was different. Change the behavior and go on. And if we can all continue to choose to do that, and choose to do that in a loving way, and in a way where we forgive each other for when we get too fiery, or when we do something that is truly wrong, like put in a freaking triage plan that says that we don’t get a ventilator, we can just say that we are sorry and fix it. That’s what I’d like abled-bodied people to know. You can just say sorry and fix it.

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