Discrimination is a word that we have been hearing a lot about recently. Discrimination has many different faces, and yet – I would wager to say that the worst discrimination comes to those who have no face at all. I have been discriminated against my entire life – not because I am overweight, nor because I am a woman, but yes – some of you know, because I am autistic. But there is no face of autism. What would the face of autism be? You cannot look at me and determine that I am autistic. I have no “look”. All that anyone could touch to give reason to discriminate against me is that I am odd, or weird, or eccentric – or excessive, or intense, excuse me – scary. Yes, people find me scary. They find the fact that I do not fit any molds or stereotypes much more scary than they find those that do. Yet, there is no standing up for me. There is no outcry for rights of odd people. No “let’s not discriminate against the weird.”
For my entire life, I have wanted but one thing. To love. I am awkward, and truthfully scared. So my behavior is not what people would expect from a fat, old lady. But nothing in my behavior should earn me distrust or fear. Nothing, except that it is unexpected. Explain to me why “unexpected” is of necessity bad. I have dealt with this my entire life. I have dealt with being discarded like trash, being sworn at, being shunned, being lied to, lied about, and threatened – for what? Because I am odd. Because I want so much to fit in and don’t really know how… I would have to say that many people who claim to be discriminated against cannot begin to know what I have dealt with, or how bad it feels. How much it hurts to be a gentle person with a good heart, wanting nothing more than to build friendships and share love and joy – but have one person after another treat me like I have cooties, and that I am scary – because I don’t react in ways they would expect. I have seen the “expected reactions” of people who are not “odd”. Sometimes – cross that out – often, they scare me. My husband and daughter – who have known me longer and more closely than anyone would both tell you that I have nothing but love in my heart, want nothing more than to share that. I would say that discrimination with no face hurts more than you can imagine – because there is not even anyone to share it with.