A Conversation with Noor Pervez
Q: Tell me a bit about yourself; your name, your pronouns if you’re comfortable, and anything you’d like to share. You don’t have to tell me how you identify but you’re super welcome to.
A: Hey! I'm Noor, and I use he/him pronouns. I'm nonbinary.
Q: Intellectual and developmental disabilities aren’t often visible, and we’re excluded because of that. Do you think being less visible in that regard has changed how you meet and interact with other disabled people? Other queer people?
A: Yes. I think that sometimes people forget about cognitive access, including other disabled people-so when I bring it up, people often bring their guard up because they either haven't thought about it or forgot about it entirely. This is very much so the case in LGBT spaces, which often are missing access conversations entirely until I bring it up. Dealing with that defensiveness in a way that ultimately leads to access is important to me, but I'd be lying if I said that it wasn't sometimes tiring.
Q: Was it hard for you to decide to identify as disabled?
A: Very much so, yes. The main reason is that I didn't have a frame of reference for disability culture and history growing up, and especially of disabled people of color. When I started to find that, and especially when I was exposed to disability history, I felt a lot more comfortable adding that to my list of identities because it felt like I was a meaningful part of something based on the way I existed and navigated the world.
Q: Disabled people, especially disabled people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, are constantly infantilized and desexualized. How has this impacted the way you feel about your own sexuality and learning about yourself?
A: It's made it difficult for me to learn about myself because I find myself constantly feeling as though I'm not "allowed" to be LGBT+, even though I am. It often feels like I'm stuck in the middle-I lack a lot of mainstream representation of people who are both I/DD and LGBT, and as a result, when I was starting to accept that I was both I had to struggle a great deal. Exploring sexuality and learning about yourself is a part of becoming an adult—and I feel like I was denied that or told it wasn't for me during transition age because of my disability.
Q: What are some of the most frustrating assumptions people make about your disability or disabilities?
A: The main one is that they can't be real for someone that has my identities.
Q: How important has independence been to you as a disabled queer person?
It is extremely important to me. I recognize that life is inherently interdependent, but it's been a huge deal for me to recognize that I can be in control of my own life and the things in it, even when I need help. For example, I physically struggle to clean. It causes me a lot of pain.
Q: Do you feel like you have to hide parts of your identity to seek medical treatment?
A: I never share that I'm autistic, and sometimes don't bring my chair-because in both cases the appointment becomes about those things and not what I'm actually in for, especially with new doctors or one-time visits to specialists.
Q: “Disability justice” means a lot of different things to a lot of people. What are your thoughts, if any, of disability justice? What does that mean to you?
A: To me, disability justice means centering the most marginalized, and centering people of color in particular. It's important that it's an active and whole part of the fight for disability rights.
Q: Anything you’d like to share that wasn't mentioned here?
A: Disabled Muslims have our own voices. Prioritize them. Stop talking to our families over us, scholars over us, everyone over us. We are the ones who know about our bodies and experiences.
Q: Anything you’d like to plug?
A: I'm on Twitter @SnoringDoggo, and I'd love if people took a look at my pieces over at Rooted in Rights and Disability Visibility Project.