“A vote for the Tories is a vote against me”
My name is Lauren Bethany Curr. I am 18 years old. You probably won’t know who I am (as I’m ‘nobody’, as such), and you probably won’t care. But you will impact my life significantly. Your vote for the Tories is a vote against people like me.
I’m not saying I’ve never had a privilege in life, oh no. I’m aware I have had a good upbringing and been very lucky in my childhood, but I don’t need to say much for you to know i’m fighting a lot of battles:
I am a queer, mentally ill, disabled woman.
Why does that matter to you? Gosh, in a way I hope it doesn’t. I’m the same human as I was when you started reading this, and seeing those things shouldn’t change your view of me, but in light of politics, I hope that it does make you think a little.
I am a woman
Oh gosh, I am proud to be a woman. If you hear the amount of times I talk about how wonderful and pure women are daily, you will know that. But that doesn’t stop the sexism- explicit, or inherent, both high and lowkey sexism seems to exist every day. Whether I’m wolf-whistled on the way to sixth form, or treated differently, or expected not to be able to do something due to my sex, we still face struggles.
I am LGBT+
I identify most with being ‘pansexual’. If you don’t know what being pan means (no, I am not attracted to kitchen utensils), my favourite explanation is ‘hearts not parts’. To sum this up, I am attracted to people, not genders. We live in a society where, despite the progressive nature of the UK’s attitude towards LGBT+ people and LGBT+ rights, we still face hell fighting to be ourselves, to be accepted in the same way heterosexuals are. You just need to read Liz Kessler’s short story ‘Love Is A Word, Not A Sentence’ to realise that.
Even beyond that, pansexuality is totally misunderstood. People think it means ‘to hook up with anyone and anything’, but that is not at all the case, and I find it so difficult to be facing that as someone on the asexual scale. You also find that- both externally and, shockingly, within the LGBT+ community, there is a lot of pan-erasure, as well as panphobia. You really would think people were better than that, but it’s a fact that I was told that I was ‘lesser’ and ‘worth less’, by someone who identified as gay. Unshockingly, I’ve also been told that by a straight person.
I mean, this picture pretty much sums it up:
And hell, not only am I disabled, but my disability is invisible. People don’t understand it, and don’t want to believe it (to be honest, as an 18 year old, neither do I) but my disabilities are valid, and a huge (literal) pain. I used to be national champion dancer. I even had over 30 hours of rehearsal for musical theatre shows PER WEEK only last year, before it got bad. Now, I struggle to move. Walking to the end of the road makes me exhausted. My joints decide when they do and, primarily don’t, want to be in place. OH, and it really doesn’t help my mental health.
I am mentally ill
The worst part about this category is my own attitude towards it. The stigma, and symptoms of my mental health, makes me anxious to speak out about it, but I have several severe mental illnesses, and they are so debilitating. It feels like I don’t have a life, not deserve one, and it’s caused me so many problems. Anyone who’s experienced any mental health problem on any scale will understand this.
Why does your vote impact me?
I could write for days and days about each party and their policies towards each, but i’m going to quickly summarise with a few examples regarding each:
On Disability: The Conservative Party are renowned for cutting disability benefits and disbelieving that someone is medically disabled if they can pass a totally unrelated test. Although I do not have it as bad as many others, this means that I am at risk of struggling. Over Christmas, in fact, I had to take almost 2 months off work due to my disabilities and do I get anything for it? No. As an adult, I would love them to explain, on such occurrences, how they expect me to live. They are also likely to cut NHS funding- as someone from a working class background who lives in ‘absolute poverty’ as defined by the British government, NHS funding is necessary for people like me who have chronic illnesses and not nearly enough to fund private healthcare. On the other hand, cuts made by the Labour party have never nearly been so severe and it is known that Labour’s priority is to funnel money into the Welfare State. ON top of that, Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has recently introduced a thing called ‘please offer me a seat’. This is particularly validating for people like me with invisible disabilities who are able to have a badge and card for free of charge, and be treated the same as anyone with visible impairments in times of struggle.
On Mental Healthcare: Despite the amount of people admitted with psychiatric problems doubling between 2010 and 2013/4, over 4,000 of 40,000 mental health nursing jobs have been cut. The charity ‘Mind’ has also compiled the party’s proposed action to mental healthcare.
On being LGBT: The website ‘My gay vote’ has compiled each party’s voting record on LGBT issues over the years:
I am not alone, remember that, and I don’t mean that in an empowering way; I mean, many people suffer with mental health problems, many people are LGBT+, and many people are disabled. I’m sure, too, a lot of people identify with many of these things too.
By Lauren Curr