Or do you see this differently?
I see it very differently.
For instance, I don't start with the assumption that others have an obligation to perceive me in any way. No more obligation than I have to perceive them in any way. Why should they? For the most part, most people don't know me. It would be foolish for me to expect them to treat me as anything other than another object in their perceptual field.
In fact, if I had an objection to any form of discrimination, it's the opposite of invisibility. Invisibility is useful. People leave you alone. It's when people go out of their way to recognize you without you having earned that recognition that it begins to be irritating.
If I never hear the phrase, "you're so brave!" again in my life, it'll be too soon. Or "you're such an inspiration!"
But that's not because people are discriminatory. They are engaging in a way that they feel is appropriate for their emotional response. They are uncomfortable because I am significantly different and have different needs than their personal experience. It's only "discriminatory" in the sense that people can discriminate one thing from another – and that's not bad. It's a good thing. It's something we should encourage.
The problem is not that they have no awareness, compassion, or empathy for my challenges – it's that they have too much awareness, inappropriate compassion, and a false sense of empathy for my challenges. It's not that they feel privileged or are privileged, it's that they want to make up for their perception of my lack of privilege.
When there is a problem, it's not because they want to reinforce any advantage they have over me. It's that they want to empower me in times and spaces that I just want to be treated as poorly as they would treat anyone else.
In fact, I am not alone in that. It's not an unusual mental state for the physically disabled to possess. It's not something we talk about because it's uncomfortable for everyone involved most of the time.
A number of the most vocal advocates for the disabled relish the victim status of people with disabilities – and that's true of people who have disabilities and those without. Unfortunately, over the last couple of decades it's become far more acceptable to embrace victimhood in a lot of public cases then it is to stand firm, as it were in some cases, and refuse it.
I've consulted with multiple disability services groups for various fandoms conventions over the last – far too long, and one of the hardest things that I have to communicate to those who aren't disabled is that the problem, from both a legal and social position, is almost never that people don't want to provide accommodation for people with disabilities. The problem is that they want to over-accommodate people with disabilities.
It's amazing the look on people's faces that you get when you stand in front of them, wave your tentacles around, and tell them to their faces, "your obligation is not to give things to me and people like me, your obligation is to give us the opportunity to fail just like anybody else."
In particular when it comes to conventions, when I have to talk about what the provisions of the Americans With Disabilities Act actually requires, I like to bring up Crying Jenny. If you've been to a convention, you know Crying Jenny. She's the girl sitting in one of the main hallways on Saturday night crying her eyes out because her boyfriend ran off with the chick dressed like Poison Ivy, her friends ditched her, and she's had one and a half too many drinks that night.
Accessibility just means that everyone attending the convention has the same opportunity to be miserable as Crying Jenny. She has the ability to go to anything going on at the convention that she wants to, she has the ability to go anywhere she wants to, she has the ability to talk to anybody that she wants to – she just doesn't want to. She doesn't get to go in first because she's crying, she doesn't get advantages because she's crying, and it's not the responsibility of the convention to keep her from crying, and it's exactly the same with people with disabilities.
If we behave differently than that standard, if we expect something different than that standard, then we are wrong. It's very simple, it's very straightforward, and it's very true.
When people don't do that it's not because they are privileged. It may be because they haven't stopped to think about what they're doing. It may be because they are ignorant about some part of the experience. It may be that they've been poorly educated about how to deal with people who have certain kinds of needs. But in no way, or at least vanishingly rarely, is it because they have some magical kind of privilege and it is self-destructive both socially and personally to suggest that it is.
In fact, most of the time when I see someone expressing some kind of privilege, it is the disabled who have been told by so many people that because the universe took a big shit on them that they deserve special treatment. It's not all of us, it's not even most of us, but it's a significant number – and they make things miserable for the rest of us.
Nobody likes them. They're assholes.
So when someone goes parading around suggesting that being able-bodied makes people "privileged" or that being white makes people "privileged" or that being male makes people "privileged", I have to call bullshit on that. It's not true. Or rather, it's only true in the most literal of senses and is not usefully meaningful.
You may see it as calling into question the arrogance of their ignorance. Instead, it's assuming your own arrogance over their understanding, their knowledge, and their actions.
When I was in college, one of my professors whom I respected to an unreasonable degree told me, "Alex, you're not good enough to be that arrogant, yet." That stuck with me. Not because it was overly critical or because he pointed out that I was behaving arrogantly; he was perfectly critical and I was absolutely being an arrogant ass. It's that arrogance demands that you be good enough to back it up. It demands that you be right.
You're not right. It's that simple. Your understanding of the world is flawed. It's tainted by expectations which simply are not the case. It's not even coherent enough to be narcissistic.
And that's a problem. It doesn't provide a basis for making good predictions about the world. Call me a utilitarian but if it's not useful for making productive interactions with the world as it stands, it has to be discarded.
Others are not privileged. Some of us have disadvantages. That just means we don't meet the baseline. It is what it is. That doesn't make a special except in the most literal sense, it just makes us broken. It makes us different.
There's an entire other lecture about the danger and destructiveness of ennobling being broken and elevating the idea that being different is inherently better, and it's one that the LGBTQ community never, ever wants to hear because the activists in that community feed on that dangerous misconception. But that's another 10,000 characters and I'm probably not feeling like doing that tonight.