After the whole "sex debacle" we had with Droidlet - "It's a girl!" and then nine days before her/his due date "It's a boy!" - the line we constantly heard from everyone in regards to our sex-switching baby was:
"Well, as long as the baby's healthy..."
Even before the in-utero sex change, many well wishers, after telling them we did find out the sex, would say something to the extent of "Well, as long as she has all her fingers and her toes!" For some reason, these statements always irked me and I could never pinpoint why.
A friend of mine studies "Crip Theory" and we were talking the other day about how our society, on many different levels, favors able-bodiness. We brought up examples from our personal experiences of how people tend to ignore individuals with disabilities, be uncomfortable with their community integration, or desexualized and/or treat them as children. For example, I used to work with this awesome guy who has Down Syndrome. One day, when we were hanging out and getting an Iced Tea from The Habit, a woman walked up to me and told me how nice it was that I "took him out for a walk" but couldn't believe I had "brought him to such a public place." My friend looked at the woman and said, "I wanted an iced tea." Not only did she refer to him as if he were an animal, but apparently didn't want him in a public area. After his response, we sat down and chit-chatted while the woman watched on in amazement.
My friend has a quadriplegic friend and they have heard comments from "why would anyone want to date a woman in a wheelchair?" when seeing her with her boyfriend, to men approaching them in bars saying "I'd be all over you if you weren't in that chair" - as if she wouldn't have a choice in the matter either way.
This conversation helped me realize why those statements had set something off inside of me. Although it's not the explicit intention behind people saying, "as long as the baby's healthy," this statement does assume a predominance of able-bodiness. What is this statement assuming? That if my baby is in the NICU when he/she is born, I will love him/her less? That if I don't count all ten fingers and all ten toes that he/she is less of a baby? These statements had irked me because they assume that if there was a physical "lack" with my baby when he was born then he was less of a baby, less of a person, which is very much NOT true.
Of course, I know that the well wishers behind these statements were mostly saying they hoped everything was okay with the baby, that the baby didn't have complications. But, what does this say about our societal preferences? Why is it "heart breaking" for people to see a child or adult with a disability? Is there a big difference between saying "As long as he has all his toes!" and "Let's hope he's not gay!"?
What this boils down to, yet again, is taking a look at how our language can be exclusive. Yes, I wanted Droidlet to be a healthy baby without complications, but why and how do we define the term "healthy?"