Transableism is the condition of physically healthy people wanting to mutilate or otherwise take on a disabling condition. They’re talking about it at an academic conference in Canada. The National Post reports:
When he cut off his right arm with a “very sharp power tool,” a man who now calls himself One Hand Jason let everyone believe it was an accident.
But he had for months tried different means of cutting and crushing the limb that never quite felt like his own, training himself on first aid so he wouldn’t bleed to death, even practicing on animal parts sourced from a butcher.
“My goal was to get the job done with no hope of reconstruction or re-attachment, and I wanted some method that I could actually bring myself to do,” he told the body modification website ModBlog.
His goal was to become disabled.
People like Jason have been classified as ‘‘transabled’’ — feeling like imposters in their bodies, their arms and legs in full working order.
“We define transability as the desire or the need for a person identified as able-bodied by other people to transform his or her body to obtain a physical impairment,” says Alexandre Baril, a Quebec born academic who will present on “transability” at this week’s Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Ottawa.
“The person could want to become deaf, blind, amputee, paraplegic. It’s a really, really strong desire.”
This really is a thing that people do. And academics like Clive Baldwin, whose video interview accompanies the National Post story, uses the logic of transgenderism to try to normalize people who wish to poke their eyes out or chop their hands off. Baldwin says society has to “stop pathologizing” these people, and “to appreciate that however strange it sounds, it isn’t beyond the pale to allow people to align their body with how they feel they ought to.”
Hey, if Bruce Jenner can call himself a woman, even though he retains his penis and his male chromosomes, just because he feels he ought to, who are you to tell these transableists that they ought not to alter their bodies to suit their own desires? Two years ago, pondering a statement by man who said that his desire to mutilate his own body via amputation “has become the core of who and what I am,” Wesley J. Smith wrote about this stuff:
Radical individualism is now the avatar with powerful forces urging that self identity become the be all and end all–no judgment allowed–perhaps even to the point that one day it will mean permission to chop off healthy limbs and other body parts. If we follow this path to its logical conclusion, it will mean using the medical system to surrender to serious mental illnesses.
Again: on what grounds do you grant transgenders a blessing on modifying their bodies because they feel that they are of the opposite sex, but deny the same to transableists?
I can see the comments coming now: Oh, these are only a tiny number of people, why are you paying attention to a freakshow. Et cetera. That doesn’t make the question go away, though.
Bruce-now-Caitlyn Jenner has become a “hero” in the eyes of the media because of his own self-mutilation; the Disney-owned ESPN is now going to give him the Arthur Ashe Courage Award (the third year in a row it will have granted the prize to an LGBT person). If Bruce Jenner had declared himself a transableist, and succeeded in having a doctor cut his spinal cord so he could be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life, would he received an Arthur Ashe Courage Award for having the bravery to take on disability as an embrace of his True Self? Of course not. The transableists don’t have a politically correct aberrant mental condition. Yet.
We social conservatives have an annoying habit of pointing out where the radical individualism driving the same-sex marriage movement is taking society. People find it offensive when we tell them that the same logic they are using to justify SSM can and will be used to justify polygamy. Give it another generation. My guess is that transableism is just far too disgusting and weird ever to find mainstream legitimacy, but if you accept the logic of transgenderism — that people have a right to “be who they really are” — then it’s hard to see where you might find the solid ground to object to transableism. After all, they aren’t hurting anybody, are they?