I’m angry that I’m deaf. There. I said it.
Think whatever you want, claim whatever you want. But if you’re deaf, chances are you know what I am feeling. Let’s sidestep the “I wouldn’t take a pill to become hearing” argument and look at the feelings we’ve had before.
First, let me clarify myself, I’m awed by our language and proud of our culture. Our community is my home. But sometimes I get those bursts of anger about my disability. I sometimes do get so effing angry that I’m deaf.
I’m just so sick of having people stare at me when I sign.
Ooh, I get really angry when others portray me as dependent. I can order for myself. I can communicate for myself. But, no, sometimes others want to step in and “help” me when I’m perfectly capable and independent. Shoo.
I hate the feeling of being lost or socially incompetent in situations involving hearing members. I have mastered the art of perfecting my face to look like I understand what they are saying when really I’m thinking of how fast I can get out of this conversation. I’m a pro at Keep-Nodding-Your-Head-So-They-Think-You-Understand. If only it was considered a skill, I would add it on my resume.
That angers me. I have so much to say, so many thoughts whirling in my head. When I’m in a hearing environment and I see all of them laughing and talking. That’s when my anger gets worse. I want to know what they’re saying. I want to be able to talk to them directly. Instead, I have to settle for snippets of conversations here and there, only getting half of the picture.
I’m angry that I get humiliated in social situations. It pisses me off when people laugh and I sit there looking like a humorless robot because I miss the joke. Or worse, I misunderstand what they’re saying and I laugh, and it turns out they weren’t trying to be funny. I once laughed when someone talked about her dead grandpa; I completely misread the situation. Thus, I slinked off with a red face and a bubbling anger.
One of the things that annoys me is when hearing people come to me and they are like “I know how to sign!” when they only know how to spell their name. I appreciate their effort and friendliness, but really? You do not know my language and I would never claim to speak Spanish if I only know “hola.”
I am furious that deaf children are denied quality access to education. I am fed up with the constant paternalism deaf people face. I am outraged because I am passed over for not being “orally-competent.” I am furious that I don’t meet job requirements because I am not considered “skilled in oral communication.” I am so angry that my skills and qualifications are passed over because of my “hearing loss.” Up yours.
I love our community, but I believe it’s time we stop sugarcoating things. Why is being angry a bad thing? I feel like we are expected to always be so happy that we’re deaf and to shout our joy from the rooftops. No. That’s not what we all are feeling. My anger is real. It’s valid. Let’s recognize it.
It took me a while to figure out where my anger stems from. I’m angry that I’m limited. I’m not angry that I can’t hear; I’m angry that I have to face obstacles everyday. I’m angry that as soon as I enter the hearing world, I am reminded that I am not “whole” in their eyes. I’m angry that I am seen as less. I am angry that society isolates us.
I’m also angry because I know that for every battle our community wins, there’s another door slamming in our face. This doesn’t mean we should give up fighting, but it’s exhausting.
I am angry that I have a disability. I would never trade my experience with our community, but I am angry.