Neuroqueer theory has been the single most important idea to emerge from the academic circles of neurodiversity into my own life. I say that with a hint of irony; neurodiversity is my life. It’s all our lives. Neurodiversity is a fact of human existence. Yet, to not perform to a cultures normative standards, neurotypically, is a disability.
The cold, hard truth of being neurodivergent is that you are disabled. This doesn’t mean that there is an issue within your body that requires fixing. It doesn’t mean that you are worth less. It does mean that the world will be a harsh place.
This is particularly problematic for those who engage in neuroqueering. The further away from that pinnacle performance of neurotypicality that we get, the more labels of pathology that society will paste onto us. To diverge from normality is to have a relationship with the world that is, at best, indifferent to your pain and, at worst, violently hateful.
In my own opinion, this has to do with the way that society frames deviation from the status quo. As soon as we decondition ourselves or fail to assimilate, we are dehumanised and discriminated against. We are told that our experiences are not valid and that our pain is our own fault.
This neatly absolves the powers that be of any responsibility for the suffering they inflict on neurodivergent people. Disability (to my mind) arises not only from obstacles in the environment but also from volatile and harmful relationships within that environment.
One of the most disabling things about being neurodivergent is the way that society frames our existence.
Our existence is able to be framed as such because there is a distinct power imbalance in our world. It’s not enough to tackle ableism and autistiphobia. We must also dismantle the bigotry and oppressive system that have infected and affected our society en masse.
You can not tackle disability as an issue without tackling white supremacy, homophobia, transphobia, or any form of bigotry. We have to decolonise in order to make the world accessible. All of these forms of hatred and discrimination play a role in the way that neurodivergent people are framed by society.
This is the nature of difference. Because society has a toxic relationship with difference and diversity, we are disabled for not assimilating.
The time has come to not just queer ourselves, but queer society. By abandoning the false hierarchies created by our capitalist systems in the west, we can embrace the anarchy of bringing the fringe to the centre. We can start this in our own communities by Embracing neuro-anarchy and breaking free of the normativity within our own circles.
The first step to decolonisation is to look inwards at our own environment.
We need to consider what parts of neurodivergent culture are helpful and what parts have arisen from the politicising of our existence. We can give rise to a society that is kinder to all, a world where difference is not a disability, but the first step is to realise our own role in that oppression.
Get access to extra content by purchasing a subscription to my Substack.