Fed Up With Government Sanctioned Ableism

I have had it up to here with ableism. Ableism is discrimination in favor of able-bodied people. This means when people with disabilities (of any sort) are treated like second class citizens, or worse. I must admit that I used to be completely oblivious to this, but once I came to terms with having mental health issues, I noticed more and more how prevalent this mistreatment of disabled people is, whether overt or covert. 

This topic came to the forefront of my mind when I tried applying for a drivers' license in my country. If you remember when I wrote about it before, I had an American drivers' license before I moved abroad, but let it lapse, unfortunately. I never converted my American license to a local one, because it cost more money to do so than I had available at the time, and then I lost the opportunity. When I traveled to the US in 2019, I decided to get my drivers' license again, first taking a few lessons locally to refresh my memory (since it had been years since I drove) and then in the US within my first few days there, I got my drivers' permit and license.

Great, now I came back locally and wanted to convert my license here. Except it wasn't so simple. Ok, first I was just lazy about it, and drove with my American license, even though I wasn't supposed to. I got into a minor car accident and insurance wouldn't cover it because I didn't have a local license, so I had to pay $2500 for the repair. That gave me a push to actually do the right thing and convert my license.

No biggie, right? 

I went to the local DMV to convert my license because they updated the law that you no longer needed to take a drivers' test to be able to convert your international license to a local one, but I had been here too long and the rule only applied to people who had been here for just a few years. When I went there, they told me that I needed to not only take the driving test, but also the drivers' theory test.

I had passed the drivers' theory test in the US twice, both at 18 and at 30, without studying, so I didn't prepare properly for the local theory test. I only started studying for the test a few days before taking it. I decided to take it in the local language, even though the test is available in English, since the English test has such abominable English which I thought would mess me over. However, there were trick questions on the test, with more than one correct answer, but they wanted you to pick the answer they gave you, and that, combined with the fact that my grasp of the local language is great but not perfect, meant I got one more wrong answer than allowed, and I failed my first test. I then decided to actually study, this time in English, and once I did that, I took the test in English, and passed, despite the terrible English.

Once I did that, it was time for the next step. 

Locally, we have/had something called the green form, which is what is used to apply for a drivers' license. You take this green form, get a doctor to sign off on it, then go to get a vision test. Once that is done, you move on to the next step. However, between when I got my paperwork signed by the doctor, took my vision test, and I passed the theory test, time passed, and when I went to sign up with a driving instructor to take the drivers' test (required locally) they told me that my vision test had expired and sent me to get that done. 

And then comes the fun part.

When I went to get the vision test they told me that the green form has now been moved online and I needed to fill it out again. As I filled out the form it asked me a bunch of questions about my medical wellbeing, with a whole list of medical issues, asking whether I had any of them and if I took any medications. I wasn't going to lie, especially because if I did and was caught, I would be at risk of never being allowed to get a license, so I wrote that I took psychiatric medication, and which one. Then it required me to include paperwork from my doctors about my medication and whether it affects my ability to drive. That meant I couldn't get my form filled out the same day, so couldn't get my vision test.

Oh well, no biggie, right? I just go to the doctor and get that paperwork and send it in. The doctors wrote me these letters, that there is nothing that should stop me from getting a license from a medical perspective, and I sent them in. And waited. Because there is a committee that it has to go through for approval. I was told it could take up to 10 weeks. 

This got me really upset. You see, this is ableism. Big time.

There are so many people who deal with mental health issues. A very large percentage of people with mental health issues never get treated, never get any help for their issues. These people would never write on their forms that they have medical issues. Any psychiatric issues that would cause a problem for driving are infinitely worse if the person is untreated. And yet people who are taking care of their issues are the ones who are punished. If I was still in denial about my mental health issues, like I had been for years, I would have had zero issues getting my license, because I am actually taking care of my issues and getting help, I am getting punished. 

These types of things are all too common, not just when it comes to getting a license. There is so much stigma against therapy, taking medication, etc... and because of that people don't want to get diagnosed or treated. And untreated mental health issues are certainly much more problematic. It is really problematic that society works this way, because we need to encourage people to get help instead of punishing them for it. And then this is government sanctioned ableism, which is even worse, in a society that claims to take care of disabled people.

I was so frustrated by needing to wait ten weeks to be able to get approved for my license, and when ten weeks passed and nothing happened, I called up the DMV to ask what was going on, and they told me that it can take up to six months for approval.

I was not ok with this, as a big part of the reason I was trying to get a license is because my body freaking hurts, and a license would help me be able to drive a car to do things that would hurt my body if I did them by bus (lugging groceries, etc...) and waiting 6 months just because I am taking medication that my doctors said do not affect my ability to drive??

I went on Facebook and posted in frustration about what was going on, and I was recommended to contact the State Comptroller's office and ask for their interference in this, and to help speed up the process. 

I filled out the paperwork, sent it all in to them, and after a few back and forths they said they would help me. It took time, but finally five months after I filled out my form online I got a message back from the State Comptroller's office that the block on my getting my license has been removed.

And now, on to the next step, hopefully actually getting my license!

I am extremely peeved at how long this has taken, and that I have been getting punished, also for telling the truth about taking medication, and also for being on medication that literally takes away my mental health issues but if I didn't take care of myself all would have been fine. This needs to be changed. Period.

Ableism is wrong. When the government is doing the ableism it is even worse. Society deserves better.

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. I am so sorry. I believe that a similar thing happened to me. I was honest when getting my green form and told them that I was taking antidepressants, which they put on the form. I believe this is why it took ages to get my license and why the driving instructor failed my test, even though I did perfectly.

  2. Government makes so many things harder and unfair. :(

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