A few days ago, I was on my way to a local coffee shop to meet a friend. This place is a little piece of diversity from this town, and I always feel comfortable here--except for the other day. I walked up with my cane to the register, ready to order. Just before I got there, an older man who was leaving the register pointed at my body and cane and said, "You gotta gimp?" I was so taken aback; I didn't know what to say. I didn't respond. He said again, "You gotta gimp? What happened?" Again with this question that is actually meant: Please reveal your personal medical information. I hate it. Nothing "happened" to me. There was no "incident" between when you saw me with a cane and the next day with a wheelchair. It's appalling to me that even the older generation will publicly point people out and use slang. I have never understood why others will choose to do this. I personally have never looked at someone of difference to me and publicly point and ask them personal information. Young people can have canes and disabilities, too; it does not just have to be the elderly. When people do this, I feel ashamed, self-conscious, unwelcome and unwanted in our society.
Definitions of Gimp:
1) a derogatory term for someone that is disabled or has a medical problem that results in physical impairment.
BUT IT ALSO MEANS:
2) An insult implying that someone is incompetent, stupid, etc. Can also be used to imply that the person is uncool or can't/won't do what everyone else is doing.
So this is where more of the problem lies. This language is a double edged sword--It is pointing out my disability in a negative way, being said publicly, and then it implies that I'm incompetent. Whether it was their intention or not it's just plain insulting. Able-bodied folks, take note of things not to say to people with disabilities.