To The Park Ranger Who Questioned My Disability

I love camping. It one of my favorite things to do and I wasn’t about to let my stupid flesh prison keep me from doing it. So I organized a camping trip with 6 friends.

We went to Saddlehorn Campground, just a little bit out from Grandjunction, CO. I chose it because it had cemented paths and disability spots. It was absolutely beautiful as well.

We got there Friday late afternoon. Within 5 minutes getting there a man rode up on his bike.

“Why are you parked in a disability spot,” he accusatorily asked me (my official placard hanging in the window).

In immense pain from the 4-hour drive, I responded: “because I’m f**king disabled.”

He stood around and dumbly added, “but I’ve seen all y’all walking around.”

At this point I wasn’t alone in my anger, my friends chimed in. “Go away” “mind your own business” they yelled while I yelled, “just because I can walk tiny distances doesn’t mean I’m not disabled!”

He angrily, and obviously not convinced, jumped on his bike and rode off. I tried to not let it bother me, but it did. I was already gnawing at me when the park ranger came to our campsite.

“I need to see whatever proves you are disabled.” Obviously, my new friend had tattled on me. While she was saying this my disability placard hung visibly from the rearview mirror of the car.

My partner stood up and ushered her to look at the placard- literally right beside her. She walked away huffily as well. No apology for her hugely inappropriate behavior. Nothing.

I chose Saddlehorn for its disability friendly campsites and was harassed instead of finally easily able to enjoy camping. However, apparently, you have to be visibly disabled to not be harassed by other campers and staff.

Newsflash Saddlehorn: not all disabilities are visible. Not everyone who needs those spaces uses a wheelchair 100% of the time. Disability placards exist and aren’t easy to get without an actual condition that you need it for!

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3 thoughts on “To The Park Ranger Who Questioned My Disability

  1. Ugh! I can’t believe the nerve of some people. I’m so nervous to eventually go for my license because of people like that. I’ve even heard of angry notes left on windshields! Seriously though does nobody know the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover”? lol

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  2. I have an invisible disability, and my boyfriend has multiple. I put magnets on my car from InvisibleDisabilities.org to help alleviate some of the learned shame and guilt I feel when I do use my placard, but it’s idiots like you encountered that taught me to feel those emotions in the first place. HIPAA doesn’t seem to apply to those of us with invisible disabilities. We must be prepared to broadcast our entire medical history to the world at a moment’s notice.

    I’m sorry you encountered such ignorance on what was supposed to be a fun, disability-friendly trip. I hope you were able to have fun despite the morons.

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    • “HIPAA doesn’t seem to apply to those of us with invisible disabilities. We must be prepared to broadcast our entire medical history to the world at a moment’s notice. ”
      Couldn’t have said it better myself.

      Liked by 1 person

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