Hey all. I don't know how many of you might remember me and might not. I haven't been around in a really long time. I'd decided to poke my head back in here post-BotCon but never managed it. But now after the TFP finale... I have something to say, and I remember at one panel there some writers from something mentioned they read here, and I want this to get seen... and if it doesn't get seen here, maybe you guys will know where I should take it. Soooo... ==== I'm a person who was born with a physical disability. It's not the kind of thing that will ever go away -- at least not with current technology. I've had it all my life. In terms of what I can and can't do, it is very minor. But in terms of my life, it's very major. The disability community is a source of wholeness and pride for me. Where the rest of the world often says I'm just short of being complete, almost okay but defective, my community gives me a place to find pride in myself. To think in terms of adaptation, not limitation. When I first got into G1 (sadly, not when I was a girl, but much later), one thing that made me so happy it brought tears to my eyes was the treatment of Chip Chase, a human character who uses a wheelchair. He wasn't perfect -- some of the way his disability was used as a lesson felt really cutesy and forced. His chair is one of those hospital-type models that doesn't make sense for daily use. But all that was overwhelmingly outweighed for me by the way his character was treated. He was accepted as he was by everyone. Not only that, but Cybertronians -- even Decepticons, as I recall -- seemed to have a kind of kinship with him. He had wheels, like many of them, and metal. He was kin to the cool characters, not alien or broken. And now we fast-forward to TFP -- a show I've really, really liked. And what do we see? Well, we've got a character who has a minor communication disability, something like the equivalent of a speech impediment in that he's understood perfectly well by his own people and even by one of the humans, but other humans don't understand when he speaks. His disability is acquired, the result of an injury in war. But throughout the series, it's just kind of there. Ratchet fusses about it -- but he's the medic. The doctor. The one whose job it is to fix it. Of course his attitude is that something's unfinished, and of course he feels guilt and shame. But Bee? Never really seems to mind too much. Never really seems to be particularly dismayed about his voice, or even particularly haunted about Tyger Pax, really. We don't see him waking from flashback dreams, or clutching at his throat a lot, or frequently beeping in sad frustration at his inability to communicate. All of which makes sense to me. If you hang around the disability community for any length of time, you'll meet lots of people who acquired their disabilities at some point in their life. People who were initially mad, or scared, or heartbroken, or oh my God that ability was my livelihood what do I do now without it? And who spend some months or years adjusting and mourning their loss... but who, eventually, go on, and realize it's not that big a deal anyway. A little over a decade ago I had some surgeries go hellishly wrong and was in a wheelchair for far longer than I expected. The plan was definitely for me to walk again, and ultimately I did. So I don't quite know what it's like to really lose an ability -- at least not yet. But I do remember thinking that if things got worse, not better, I might never walk. And a funny thing happened. After a while of using my chair, of getting around the world -- I realized I didn't care. I realized that people who can walk worry a lot more about not doing it than people who can't walk crave to do it. Because people have this idea that a disability is an ending, and some kind of a horrifying one. Which is why... I was disappointed with the finale. I was disappointed because the grand moment of the heroes' victory -- was also the moment someone's disability magically disappeared. I was disappointed because the celebrations in the denouement -- were, in part, about celebrating someone's disability disappearing. I understand that Bumblebee isn't like me, in that his disability was inflicted upon him by an individual, and that that individual was his enemy. I recognize that that must have kept the wound fresh, in ways that don't square with my experience. But I still felt really weird and even a little bit hurt, because part of what that story said to me is that true wholeness comes when disability not only goes away -- but is magically cured. To me, when I see things like that, I know they aren't usually meant hatefully. But the first flicker of thought that runs through me is something like "Why do you want me to disappear?" I do not know if there's a God. But if there is, I strongly believe He didn't make a mistake when he made me. There is a reason I am in this body. Without it, I would never have learned what it's like to adapt to the world and to take fierce pride in not only the way I do it, but the way my brothers and sisters with disabilities do it, each ingenious, each unique. I would never have found my place in the world as a fierce advocate for my people against precisely those people who think, and say, that we are broken, that we are incomplete, that we need healing on their terms, not on ours. For me personally, falling into life-goo would fix some things that irk me, yes. It would make me move faster. It would mean less random, chronic pain. But it would also take away a core part of my identity and make me a different person. So instead of feeling proud, I felt weird, and uncomfortable, and uneasy. I'm not asking you to agree with me. I'm not saying my perspective is everyone's. But I would like people who were involved in writing that to listen to me, and to think about what I am saying. I want people to think before they write, because things that happen in one continuity of Transformers often get ported over to the next. We've seen two Bumblebees with vocalizer damage, which means this is well on its way to becoming a tradition. Which is okay with me -- but I'd like the people who create Transformers to think about what that tradition will mean. I'd like them not to repeat without awareness and forethought the idea that only without disability is a person (or robot!) truly whole. And, ideally, for the next Transformers series, which I await with as much eagerness as the next avid fan... I'd like disability, whether in a Cybertronian character or a human, to be handled a little more like Chip Chase and a little less like TFP Bee. TFP writers and creators, you tried hard with race. You made your cast diverse. You tried hard with gender, bucking a trend in Transformers that says female characters are a Problem to be shrugged at rather than solved. You gave Arcee a fascinating personality and history. You made Miko a pint-sized, fierce but reckless Wrecker. And while I know Miko is very controversial, I really loved that about her. Now, please, let's keep and find people who will try with us. Thanks for reading this, everyone, whoever you might be.