News from YetAnotherLefty

Hello readers,

Depression is eating posts again so here’s a short round up of what I’m up to.
Firstly, for my #DWPDiary, I got my PIP award. They’ve massively underestimated how my disability affects me (and contradicted reports from my social care assessment) but they’ve awarded me Enhanced Care and Enhanced Mobility for five years so I’m not going to appeal even though I honestly believe the award should be longer . None of my incurable progressive conditions are going to get any better! But at least I won’t have to worry about my PIP for four years now.

Pride is happening where I am, yay! I went to a very local Pride and it was great. I don’t go to the big city Pride because I know it’s not going to be accessible for someone like me. And because police and corporations dominate Pride and people I know get arrested for protesting this. I started a post last year about Pride and about how I notice which businesses put Pride flags up…. and how quickly they pull them back down. Look out for that post in the next week or so (I hope).

I recently fact-checked my previous assertions on this blog that the current marriage and gender recognition laws in the UK essentially prevent many (most?) transgender people – including me – from getting married. There will be an in-depth post up soon as I unfortunately discovered that I was entirely correct. Until marriage and/or gender recognition laws are fixed in this country, I can’t get married. To anyone. Unless I submit information about my genitals and reproductive organs to a government panel and have my name permanently on a government owned list of trans people. Which.. no.

As the world seems to be slowly turning into a fascist dystopia and people argue about exactly how fascist and dangerous things should be before it’s okay to counter-protest and fight back, I would like to make my stance very,  very clear. As I’ve written before, fascists should be countered and blocked and sabotaged and isolated at every turn. They should be afraid to express their genocidal aims and they should be prevented from gathering, from preaching, from anything that might further those aims. And yes I am totally in support of punching them if it will stop them speaking or make them afraid to be fascist in public. Fascists are like baobabs, you need to deal with the problem while it’s tiny and not allow it to grow roots. I am friends with people who’ve been doing this work for years, it’s time you all caught up. You don’t have to punch anyone yourself, you don’t have to single-handedly destroy fascism or be a hero – but you can’t ignore the fascists, you can’t treat those of us who stop them as “just as bad”. Even if you can’t do anything else, please don’t condemn the people trying to save you. If all you can do is cover over their swastika graffiti, do that. If all you can do is make friends with the people the fascists want you to hate, do that. “It is not on you to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it” – please do something towards stopping the fascists and/or towards true freedom from oppression for all.

I feel very strongly about this. I’m Jewish and disabled and queer and trans, they are coming for me. They want a world where people like me cannot exist.
Every time hate crime levels here rise, I feel more obliged to wear my Jewishness and my queerness visibly. I feel obliged to refuse to pass for a heterosexual Christian man just because that would be safer. I insist on walking around as someone many people actively want to get rid of because doing so reminds everyone who sees me that difference is here and it is staying. It reminds me that I am different and different is not less. I will not be part of anyone’s effort to erase diversity and while I am, yes, scared to look Jewish and queer and disabled all at once, I will insist upon doing so because my differences are my strength and I refuse to be ashamed.

ATOS-ed Again

Just for my DWP diary, I will quickly note that I had another PIP Assessment two or three weeks ago. The actual appointment was far less awful than I was expecting (though whether or not the report they make from it will be remotely accurate remains to be seen) but the experience of getting to and from the building , getting around the building and sitting in the waiting room was awful.

We’d told them in advance that we needed wheelchair access and preferably a ground floor room. Whilst we did get seen in a wheelchair accessible ground floor room, the assessment centre was located really far away from any bus stops and there was no wheelchair accessible route to the building – the choices of routes where “walk on the road cos the pavement is too narrow for a wheelchair” or “Steep ramp up to another slightly less steep ramp followed by 20 metres of cobblestones and then cross the car park while cars are moving”. So, no, not wheelchair accessible at all really.
We spent over an hour in the waiting room, regularly being told it’d be another 10 minutes or so until we were seen. It was an extremely hot day – one of the hottest so far this year and it was hot inside too but no one dared to leave. One woman nearly fainted from the heat. My boyfriend eventually worked out that there was air-conditioning – they just hadn’t considered turning it on. He asked them to turn it on and they did but seriously, who expects vulnerable people to sit for hours in extreme heat and doesn’t think to use the air-con that is available?
And maybe I’m being petty here but: while I avoided the terribly uncomfortable seating by staying in my wheelchair, the seats were laid out in a pattern creating corridors between rows of seats and the pattern left no space for any wheelchair users to park. All three wheelchair users in the room had to just block of a bit of corridor at the end of a row and hope no one would need us to move. It was as if they didn’t expect us.
Another sign that they clearly didn’t expect wheelchair users was that all the internal doors had to be opened for me by two people for me to pass through. No “Press to Open” doors or large light doors with easy to open handles. Just heavy doors that I couldn’t have opened.

Like I said above, the assessment itself went much better than I’d expected – this time they didn’t ask me why I was still alive with my suicidal thoughts, didn’t ask me how I got PTSD and didn’t make me do any unnecessary physical exams (all of which happened at my first PIP assessment). But really I wish the constant assessments would stop and the fear of the next new and exciting way ATOS and the DWP can dehumanise me and threaten to impoverish me could lift.