I’ve been lazy with my writing lately and had planned to write a different blog post today. But, something exciting happened in America, and I feel like I need to address it instead. I’ll get to the other stuff a different (hopefully soon) day.
Yesterday, Texas voted in the first Governor in a wheelchair! I repeat, Greg Abbott is the first elected Governor to be in a wheelchair. That is so amazing! The voters were able to look past his lack of working legs to see what he could do for them. I don’t care how you lean politically or for whom you vote. I just think it’s cool that a dude in a wheelchair won a big, big, big election!
Greg Abbott became paralyzed when an Oak Tree fell on him after a big storm in Texas. The year was 1984. He’s been in a wheelchair ever since. And he’s done amazing things ever since! He was a member of the Texas State Supreme Court for nearly 8 years before becoming the state’s Attorney General. Being in a wheelchair has not slowed him down!
When I first became wheelchair bound, one of my biggest concerns was how I was going to work. I knew that mentally and physically I could work no problem. What concerned me was how clients and colleagues would react. I work in criminal defense. I already have to overcome certain stereotypes held by machismo men. They worry that a female can’t represent them as well as a male. But add the metal wheels?? How were they going to react to that?
Before I became paralyzed, I sometimes walked with a cane. And I had a limp which some days were worse than others. It’s funny that now I’m longing to be back in that state! But at the time, I was super self conscious about it all. It’s funny the things that are important to us at the time, which later become so insignificant. I was worried my clients would react poorly to the cane. But now I’m in a wheelchair. The funny thing is that I think I notice it more than they do. In the beginning, I would explain it away. “I’m recovering from back surgery” I would spout out randomly. They didn’t ask. They never do. Sometimes they’ll ask if I need help with something. But they never ask about the wheelchair unless they knew me when I was upright. I feel like it’s an elephant in the room that needs to be reassured. But do they even think twice about it? I guess it’s the fact that I’m good at my job that they’re more concerned about. My record and former client reviews speak for themselves.
I haven’t been in front of a jury yet since I’ve been in my wheelchair. I don’t worry about that quite as much. I hate that I can’t stand when addressing the court or questioning a witness. But, I don’t think the jury will judge me negatively for being in a wheelchair. If anything, it might help my client. They might think “He’s accused of (insert crime here) and she’s not afraid to be around him, even in her weakened state”. Could help. Or maybe it won’t even matter.
I like to think that when voters saw Greg Abbott, they looked at his policies and his ideals, rather than his wheels. And that gives me hope and encouragement for my own wheeled future!