Paralympian Jessica Long Shedding light on a common problem faced by many people with disabilities – harassment from people who do not believe they are disabled.
The swimmer, who has won 13 Paralympic gold medals, recently posted a TikTok in which she expressed her disappointment over being handicapped and embarrassed to use a handicap-accessible parking spot despite having a disabled person’s parking permit.
Long said that once as she was parking, a woman in the other car gave her a disgusted look, rolled up her window and told her she shouldn’t be parking there. For a long time explained to the woman that she was a cripple. In response, the woman “just left.”
In his video, which has over 1 million likes on TikTok, the 29-year-old athlete emphasized how often “disabled cops” shame him for using a parking lot that requires him.
“I was never bullied as a kid and didn’t know that I was being bullied by adults because I park in the handicapped. And I got it. I’m young, I’m athletic, but I have legs. And I know I take it easy, but it’s still really hard. My legs are heavy, they hurt me. I’m in pain.”
Long — who you might recognize from a Toyota ad about his life (above) — is fibrous hemimilia, a condition in which she was not born with lower legs, as she describes one more tiktok Video. When she was 13 months old, her adoptive parents amputated a part of her leg so that she could learn how to walk with prosthetic legs. She said she has had more than 25 surgeries and stressed the physical pain of the whole ordeal. But at an early age he fell in love with swimming and at the age of 12 he won three gold medals At the 2004 Athens Olympics, he made youngest member To do so according to the US Paralympic team International Paralympic Committee.
Despite her achievements, Long said in an Instagram post published in September 2020 that she is regularly harassed for parking in handicap-accessible spaces.
“I get two to four comments per week just going about my normal routine and parking in handicapped spaces,” the caption of her post read. “I’ve had people yell at me, leave notes on my windshield, knock on my car window, or wait to get out of my car, just to tell me I can’t park there. The worst experience I’ve ever had was an older couple who followed me around a grocery store and kept commenting because they wanted the handicap space I took and said I didn’t need it. Also explained that I have two prosthetic legs and they told me I was a liar.
It is important to remember that not all disabilities are visible.