Sunday, December 13, 2009

We are your friends,your neighbors, your ...toy reviewers

Introduction: In an effort to show the human face of disability in the workforce, here is the first edition. I am extremely pumped to share the courage and beauty of my friends, coworkers, and comrades. I hope you enjoy their essence as much I do.

Meet Essin'Em

I met Essin' Em at hippie school in 5th grade. A pioneer since grade school, she has never backed down for a challenge. A 16 year old graduate of high school, she now holds a BA in sociology and German as well as a M.Ed in Human Sexuality Education. Essin ' Em is now making important inroads into the very taboo area of disability and sexuality as writer, publicist and sex educator.

Favorite thing to do: Cuddling with my kitties (and partner) in bed with a good book and cuppa tea.

Favorite pick up line: So, um...I have some sex toys I need to review. Want to help me try them out?

How would you classify your disability? (visual, emotional, medical, physical etc): Frustrating. Snarkiness aside, physical.

Are you doing what you planned to do in school? Yes and no. I don't make 100% of my living from sexuality education, but am getting to do it.

7. Does your school/boss/job administration help you to achieve your goals at work/school? If not, please explain how they could help you better. I don't have a boss right now, as I do freelance and consultant work. However, my school definitely did not help - I was a bit of the black sheep, as instead of sex therapy or working at Planned Parenthood, I wanted work with "alternative" communities with sexuality; the dis/ability community, the queer community, the kink community, the poly-community, etc.

Are you doing something you like? If not, what would be your ideal job/study? Yes, although not full time. My ideal job would be teaching in regards to sexuality all the time, whether through a university, or being able to consult full time.

Would you classify yourself as in the closet about your disability? Why or why are you not? Definitely not in the closet. I feel that by showing that people with different ability levels are just as competent as traditionally able bodied people is the only way to change opinions. Also, I use a handicapped placard often, and walk with a cane some of the time, which automatically outs me.

Do you think disability discrimination exists and if so in what capacity/way? It definitely does. From having to argue with corporate in order to have a chair at a front desk position to the amount of difficulty in getting a handicap placard or getting approved to get disability assistance, there is definitely still discrimination against those with different abilities.

If there were one thing you could change in your native country regarding disability and employment what would it be: Require that all public transportation be publicly accessible, all sidewalks have ramp access, and have handicap placards transfer state to state.

Have you worked/studied/lived abroad? If so, how does this compare to your home country: Yes. Germany was much more accessible, both physically and as far as government benefits/access than the US is.

List five things you want to do before you die:

Live abroad again (this time, with my partner)
Get my doctorate
Own a house
Become a household name synonymous with Sexuality Education
Establish my own company

I want to end with Essin'Em's advice to young people.
Don't be afraid to claim your dis/ability as part of your identity. There is no shame in being who you are. On the same note, don't become your dis/ability - it's only PART of who you are.

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