On Litmus Tests and Invisible Illnesses; more on Steampunk Universe
October 20, 2016 disability , disabled , diversity , fiction , kickstarter , structural discriminationsteampunkuniverse.alliterationink.com.
For context, see this post: http://www.ideatrash.net/2016/10/two-issues-around-steampunk-universe.html
The figure I quoted previously - that slightly less than 50% of the authors were themselves disabled or aneurotypical - was based on the information that they themselves shared with us in cover letters or bios.
We find the idea of litmus tests disturbing in general in determining who gets on a table of contents. I have long advocated for determining one's efforts by evaluating who is submitting. When I brought this up in July, I recognized that my efforts in getting submissions needed improvement. I got several good suggestions on broadening my calls for submissions, and D. Morgenstern pointed out several others in their critique of my response yesterday. I can do more in that arena, and will. Sadly, these are of limited use now, since the two years we were accepting submissions ended back in July.
But I want to again point out that we did not specifically quiz authors on this subject.
Aside from the above, we are personally and strongly aware of the way society can shame and stigmatize those who have disabilities or who are not neurotypical.
For example, while I have previously mentioned publicly which of my family members is aneurotypical, I have not named them here because they're an adult and deserve to tell their own story in the way they choose to.
Or Ms. Coe, who wrote the essay I posted yesterday. She wrote me last night (different time zones and all) to share this:
"The sentence basically came from the fact that I have depression - to severe levels at times - but I am not legally disabled; I am not neurotypical but I don't experience a lot of the disadvantages, especially as I am able-bodied. It was meant to highlight the invisible illnesses that don't always get included when a lot of people think of disability, but can often be crippling."
I want to personally thank Ms. Coe for sharing this part of her personal story with us all.
While depression and other mental issues can qualify as "legally disabled", it can be extremely difficult and painful to share that publicly. They are also massively and shamefully stigmatized, leading many to not share their stories publicly.
I appreciate the critique from others.
I am going to ensure that future calls for submission include the new sources that have been brought to my attention.
I appreciate Ms. Coe sharing her story.
I am not going to force any of my authors to answer questions about their personal lives to pass a litmus test or judge whether they're disabled "enough" or aneurotypical "enough".
I am - with your help and support - going to bring you a kick-ass anthology featuring characters who are aneurotypical and disabled.
Thank you for your support.
Your comments are welcome; please comment here instead of on the project itself.
If you haven't backed the project yet, you can at steampunkuniverse.alliterationink.com.