My name is Kat Gray. I am 15 years old, I'm nonbinary, and I have cerebral palsy. This means I'm a part-time wheelchair and mobility aid user. Growing up, I never saw myself in the media ANYWHERE and I still don't. Disability representation on screen is minimal despite coming a long way in recent times, and as an aspiring actor and writer, I am to change this. As a kid, I was relentlessly bullied for "faking" my disability as no one really understood the fact that I have good days and bad days and don't rely on any of my walking aids 24/7. My cerebral palsy means that I am in pain a lot of the time, but people can't see that this is what's disabling me, and for whatever reason, they chose to assume I'm exaggerating my condition for attention. The reason for this misunderstanding is the lack of representation that part-time wheelchair/mobility aid users get in the media. We are pretty much nowhere to be seen and that causes a gap in knowledge for most able-bodied people. Impressions of disabilities are heavily influenced by what is seen on TV and elsewhere in the media, so if we're not included, we're not recognized or heard. This leads to so many people believing that most if not all wheelchair users are paralyzed or unable to walk whatsoever because that's what gets the most media coverage.
I have spent so much of my life being harassed for "not being disabled enough". These types of comments from people are so damaging because they alter my own perception and the relationship that I have with my disability. Most of this harassment can be traced back to a lack of knowledge. This lack of knowledge can be traced back to a complete gap in coverage for people who are part-time wheelchair users in the media. This needs to change so I've taken things into my own hands. I audition for lots of different roles and even experiment with writing my own shows and concepts that highlight inclusivity. I have started an online awareness campaign called #AllDisabilitiesOnScreen and I am trying my best to get people on board. Make sure to check out my hashtag!