U.S. Paralympian Says Strangers Shame Her For Using Handicapped Parking Spots
Paralympic Jessica Long highlights a common problem many people with disabilities face - harassment from people who don't believe they are dewormed.
The swimmer, who won 13 Paralympic gold medals, recently posted a TikTok expressing frustration over being ashamed of using a handicapped parking lot despite being amputated and holding a handicapped parking pass.
To the disabled police ... be friendly! ?? # amputeelife # fyp
orijinal ses - Tik Toker
Long said that once, when she was parking, she looked disgusted at a woman in another car, rolled down her window, and told her not to park there. Long explained to the woman that she was amputated. In response to this, the woman “simply drove away”.
In her video, which has over 1 million likes on TikTok, the 29-year-old athlete emphasized how often the "handicapped police" shame her for using a parking space that she needs.
“I was never bullied as a child and I did not know that I would be bullied by adults because I park with a handicap. And I understand. I am young, I am athletic, but I also lack legs! And I know I make it look easy, but it's still very hard. My legs are heavy, they hurt me. I have pain."
Long - which you may recognize from a Toyota commercial about her life (above) - has fibula hemimilia, a condition in which she was not born with lower legs, as she explains in another TikTok video. When she was 13 months old, her adoptive parents had part of her legs amputated so she could learn to walk with prosthetic legs. She said she had more than 25 surgeries and emphasized the physical pain of the whole ordeal. But she fell in love with swimming at a young age and won three gold medals at the 2004 Athens Olympics at the age of 12, which, according to the International Paralympic Committee, made her the youngest member of the US Paralympic team.
Despite her accomplishments, Long said in an Instagram post she published in September 2020 that she is regularly harassed for parking in accessible parking spaces.
“I get two to four comments a week, just go about my normal routine and park in disabled parking spaces,” says the headline of her post. “I yelled at people, left notes on my windshield, knocked on my car window, or waited for me to get out of my car only to tell myself I couldn't park there. My worst experience so far has been an elderly couple who followed me through a grocery store and kept making comments about wanting the handicapped seat I was taking and saying I don't need it. I even said I had two prosthetic legs and they told me I was a liar. "
Unfortunately, it is incredibly common for disabled people to be harassed by parking attendants who believe they shouldn't park in accessible parking spaces.
It is important to remember that not all disabilities are visible.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.
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