The Next Chapter

How Dorothy Ellen Palmer wrote a memoir about being in love with herself and her abilities

Dorothy Ellen Palmer is the author of Falling For Myself.
Dorothy Ellen Palmer is a Toronto-raised writer and activist. (Wolsak & Wynn)
Listen3:38

Dorothy Ellen Palmer is a writer, educator, accessibility consultant and activist. In her memoir, Falling for Myself, Palmer makes a passionate case for disability justice. She was born with congenital anomalies in both feet.

In her book, she depicts her coming to terms with the past — and describes her discovery and embrace of activism.

Palmer spoke with The Next Chapter about writing Falling for Myself.

A need for belonging

"I was born in 1955. I had six different foster homes and two long stints in the hospital before I was adopted when I was almost three. My parents did a relatively good job given that they had both come from somewhat wounded families themselves.

"But what was the most difficult was that I felt like a burden. I felt like a financial burden to them because I required more money being spent on my special orthopedic shoes.

"I felt like a burden to them because I wasn't really theirs. So this notion of being a burden deeply shamed me. It was kind of a double whammy, if you will, because it was the shame of adoption and the shame of disability. So it led me to behave quite badly as a young person because I didn't want to be seen as representing or belonging to anyone who was disabled."

Proud to be

"Eventually, over time I began to realize and discover the online disability community, particularly Stella Young, who was a comedian and activist who talked very specifically about how inaccessibility wasn't her problem, it was the world's problem.

I could come out of the closet and be proud of who I was.- Dorothy Ellen Palmer

"That was like a huge wonderful bursting of the dam for me because Stella made me proud. She made me realize that I wasn't the problem, ableism was the problem, inaccessibility was the problem and that I didn't have to be ashamed anymore, that I could come out of the closet and be proud of who I was."

Dorothy Ellen Palmer's comments have been edited for length and clarity. 

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.