What if?

What if you were told that the way you experience the world is wrong? What if you were told your body lies? What if everything you felt and experienced was challenged, tested, doubted, disbelieved?

What if they told you the way you move is wrong? What if your body language and movement was monitored, policed, and controlled whenever you were around people? What if other people saw you slip up and laughed and made fun of you for it? What if they told you that you were a freak and freaks should die? What if they urged you to kill yourself? What if they hurt you? What if authority figures insisted this treatment was your fault and if you tried harder at moving right it wouldn’t happen?

What if they told you the way you talk and think and write is wrong? What if they dictated and micromanaged to you how you would say things, and demanded that you comply before they’d give you what you want? What if they did that even involving things you need? And what if, despite saying that compliance with their standards is the way to get what you want, they routinely ignored you if you were asking them to stop?

What if talking about this treatment was met with disbelief? What if people accused you of misunderstanding your own experiences when they weren’t there? What if they called you a liar? What if they said you had to be exaggerating, it couldn’t possibly be that bad?

What if you could never say no? What if any resistance at all was met with physical force, someone grabbing your arms hard enough to hurt and forcing you to do what they wanted? What if this was not called “assault,” but “therapy”?

What if parents who hurt kids like you were treated as the victims? What if the kids were blamed for their abuse because they move and talk and act like you and therefore deserved it? What if the media focused all stories on filicide of kids like you about how hard you are to take care of? What if parents of kids like you talked ominously about how there would be more deaths if access to services didn’t improve? What if protesting the idea that it’s okay to kill people like you was seen as unreasonable?

What if, in spite of all this violence against people like you, it was you who were scape-goated whenever violence was talked about. What if the moment a major violent act hit the news, people were speculating that the perpetrator must have been like you? What if, when you expressed hurt at this, people called you the one who lacks empathy?

What if you were told you had to do things that hurt you, because refusal is a “behavior” and behaviors are bad? What if people willfully and capriciously denied you the ability to comfort yourself as they forced you to do things that hurt, day in, day out, and then blamed you for the explosion when you couldn’t take it anymore?

What if people consistently made you do things you’re terrible at without any guidance? What if they berated you and called you names when you inevitably failed? What if they refused to let you work on anything you enjoyed or were good at until you succeeded at the thing that made you miserable? What if protest was met with insinuation that you were lazy and spoiled?

What if anybody who doesn’t move or talk or act like you was seen as better? What if there were entire organizations and research groups and societies dedicating to making you move and talk and act differently?

What if there was an organization whose sole purpose was to eliminate people like you? What if they pretended to be about helping you, and were the main group people thought of when they thought of authorities on people like you? What if this organization completely excluded people like you from positions of power and did its best to erase and discredit the words of people like you who challenged it? What if this organization trumpeted the “therapy” that you found so hurtful as the only thing that could fix people like you? What if, when you told this organization to stuff its eugenic “help,” it acted as if you were in the wrong and it was the victim?

What if people in the organization talked on video about their fantasies of killing people like you, and insisted that everyone in families like yours thought about it sometimes? What if this organization spread words of hatred and dehumanization about people like you? What if others acted on it and hurt and killed people like you? And what if the organization steadfastly refused to tone down its rhetoric, in spite of the perpetrators of these acts being close followers of it?

What if, even after all that, people thought you were the unreasonable one for protesting?

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