Boxed in? A debate about identity

Boxed in? A debate exploring issues of identity, self, community and belonging for disabled people.

The legal definition of disability is wide.  This has implications for individuals and their rights and for those with duties and responsibilities under the law.  It also has implications for the success and strength of the disability Movement as an agent for social change when people who are covered by the definition of disability do not see themselves as fitting that ‘label’ or identity, and do not therefore add to the collective voice for change. 

The “Boxed in” debate hosted by the Independent Living in Scotland project (ILiS) and its partners in Glasgow in February 2012, supported people in the Independent Living Movement and their allies; including academics, the media, the public sector and other disabled people and their communities; to have an open and formative discussion on the issue of identity and disability. 

The debate started by recognising that many people, regardless of how they ‘label’ themselves, experience injustice and oppression as a result of society’s attitudes towards difference and impairments.  Central to the debate was the issue of why someone would want to identify as ‘disabled’ in the first place. 

“If you are being stereotyped or stigmatised on a regular basis by the media or politicians that undermines your identity”

People spoke about the need to balance the stigmatization of disability with the empowerment attained by aligning oneself to ‘disabled’ as a badge to be proud of and gaining strength from being part of a bigger group.  The debate concluded that the key to challenging the discrimination and negative perceptions surrounding disability was not to impose identity but to build strength in unity by empowering people to both recognise and celebrate their differences and commonalities.

“We shouldn’t be afraid of who we are…[we should] work together to stop the oppression”




Boxedin orgs