Jasper Peach: The Impact Of Pain, The NDIS & Queer Parenting
Jasper Peach is a disability activist and writer. Peta and Jasper delve into the intersection of disability and LGBTQIA+ identities, parenting, invisible disabilities, and the power of memes in self-discovery.
Jasper's book, "You'll Be a Wonderful Parent," offers support and guidance to the LGBTQIA+ community navigating the journey of parenthood. You can find it here: https://www.hardiegrant.com/au/
You'll Be A Wonderful Parent is also available in audiobook form https://soundcloud.com/jasper-peach
Connect with Jasper:
Connect with Peta:
Episode Transcript: https://www.icantstandpodcast.com/post/
Peta [00:00:02] Hello and welcome to the I Can't Stand podcast. The podcast answering your questions on what life is like when you have a disability. My name's Peter. I have cerebral palsy and I'm your host this week. I have just a page on the podcast for you. They are a writer and a disability activist. They have recently released a book called You'll Be a Wonderful Parent. I loved this chat with Jasper. We spoke a lot about parenting and what it's like for them as a disabled queer parent, but also they're just an insightful human that I really enjoyed listening to, and I'm sure you'll feel the same way. So without any further ado, let's hand over to Jasper.
Jasper [00:00:59] Hi, everyone. And hi Peta. Thanks for having me on your excellent podcast. My name is Jasper Peach and I'm a writer and a disability activist and a parent and a very silly person who enjoys dopamine dressing.
Peta [00:01:19] Well, your shirt today is totally on point. For those who can't see, I would describe it as a blue shirt with animals on the front, yellow animals
Jasper [00:01:29] Yellow bears
Peta [00:01:29] They're so cute
Jasper [00:01:33] Thank you.
Peta [00:01:35] One of the main reasons I got you on the podcast is because you have a wonderful book. Even got wonderful in the title. It's called You Be a Wonderful Parent. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Jasper [00:01:47] It's basically the book that I was looking for all those years ago when my partner and I decided that we'd like to start a family that didn't really exist. It's a parenting book for the LGBTIQA+ community. It's basically the book form of sitting down with someone who has been through the process that you are hoping to go through and sort of patting your arm going, You can do this. This has been done, and I'm here to answer any questions that you have. And just so you know that you're not on your own. This is a wonderful thing that you're trying to do.
Peta [00:02:29] It's lovely having that supportive friend because often and I don't have kids yet, but often it's such an exciting but private and overwhelming process, particularly when you just can't get pregnant like everybody else can be so overwhelming that people's lives are sort of progressing in a way that you may not be in the way that you want it to. So I really, really admire you for writing this book because I'm sure there are a lot of people out there that are very grateful for your work.
Jasper [00:03:03] Oh, thank you.
Peta [00:03:06] As everybody listening will know, this is a disability podcast. I really want to understand when you first realised that you were disabled.
Jasper [00:03:15] Mm hmm. Took a long time. I look, I was not born disabled. I, I became disabled, I think, in my mid, early to mid twenties. I have an invisible, dynamic disability. I have chronic pain. I have look what what people call chronic fatigue with that doesn't even touch the sides, really. So I've got myalgic, encephalomyelitis and fibromyalgia, and I'm neurodivergent and I've got complex PTSD and there's a lot of there's a lot of things in my humanity soup and. I didn't know that I was allowed to say I was disabled. No one told me. No one gave me permission. I waited for a long time to let myself know that because I didn't want to take up space that wasn't mine, that wasn't rightfully mine, because I know what that feels like when when you see that happen and it's awful, it's lateral violence and it truly it was through memes, which is where I take most of my learning about what it is to be a person. The medical system they don't really teach me much broader humanity doesn't teach me much. It's memes made by people like me
Peta [00:04:38] That's amazing that you felt the seen and understood it through memes. And I'm not I'm sure most people listening knows what it means, but how would you describe what a meme is for those who don't know?
Jasper [00:04:52] I'm a is sort of like a cartoon panel. I guess it might be a screenshot from a TV show with text added over it that that makes a bit of a joke or it might be a piece of art. Like someone's drawing some characters and describe what's happening. They make a point. They they shine a light on on the reality that isn't necessarily reflected in broader understanding.
Peta [00:05:25] So when you read something like that and you think, Oh gosh, that struck a chord, that it me. Where where do you go next?
Jasper [00:05:34] I felt relieved. I always felt like I wasn't trying hard enough or doing doing it right. Whatever it is. Life. I guess that I was so impacted by everything around me. But once I understood the way I interact with things out of my control reflects my disability, that made everything a lot more calm and clear. Confusion is exhausting. And when you're square peg in a round hole and you're trying to to be in spaces and you end up feeling sick or distressed from that, you can feel, Oh, it's me, that's a problem, but it's, it's not necessarily so. So first comes the relief and then comes the rage because, hey, I'm not the only one like this. How how is everyone not factoring us in? How other people designing buildings are not factor us in? I could talk for hours about this. For me, generally it's confusion, understanding, relief, rage, and then create. So I'll write my way through my initial confusion, through to the understanding. And then at the end, I guess my conclusion is always, yo, could everyone just notice this and reflect on it and see what you can do to not be part of the problem? When I became disabled, there were ten winters in a row where I became terribly depressed every winter. And it was because I, I could I couldn't yet accept what my body did in winter, which is, you know, everything gets a little bit rickety and creaky and inflamed and all that sort of stuff. And so I need a lot of rest, I need a lot of warmth. I need to be be kind of mindful about making sure I'm eating warming foods to keep my body in its in its best possible condition for the season. And I saw I saw a narrative therapist. And after a few sessions, she asked me what would happen if you accepted that every winter your body is more painful and you can do less stuff. The thought had never occurred to me because because we're taught right to no fight harder, push through and get through to the other side, mind over matter, like the worst phrase ever mind over matter. And and I sat there and I just I felt my shoulders drop about a metre and. Oh, and that winter I didn't I wasn't sad. I just I noticed I noticed the pain that was going on. And so I'd have a little nap or I'd watch Master Chef, or if I didn't try and outrun what was happening. I'm more productive since that mindset change because I don't burn out as much.
Peta [00:08:44] I envy you. I'm still on that process. Like, I really detest winter. It's not my favourite season at all. It. It's so true. Pain is just so. Something that we a lot of us live with. And because you can't see it, even for me, it's hard for me to understand how much pain that I'm in. So I'm still working on my internalised albeism when it comes to that. But it sounds like you've really worked through a lot of the ableism that you face
Jasper [00:09:14] Still jumps ups like Whac-A-Mole, you know, it just sort of jumps up. And and I think especially, like I said, you're you're I think you're quite similar to me what was so interested in so many things and and passionate about communication and and sharing ideas and having great conversations and doesn't care about how much you want to do. It just is you know, it's just this kind of soulless entity that that hangs around. And so it's it's sad to say no to opportunity. I've worked through it, but it's still a daily challenge, I guess. Yeah.
Peta [00:09:58] Going back to invisible disabilities, what do you wish people better understood about invisible disabilities?
Jasper [00:10:07] One day that you spend with a person doesn't necessarily illustrate how they will be the next day or any other day of their life. I think most of us understand that you can't tell people's pain levels from looking at them. Everything's impacted from everything else. Like the fabric I wear will impact my pain levels. The milk that I drink with my cereal will impact my pain levels, how much I play with my children, how late I stayed up reading my book, all of these things. Fun impacts pain levels as well. So when we weigh up what we say yes to and what we plan to do with our time, we are also balancing the amount of pain that will definitely occur as part of the fall out. I often just pretend that part's not going to happen and enjoy the fun bit. And then when the pain becomes Ah. Oh, that's right I've got to pay the piper. I just. I'm trying so hard to get across to people what it is to have an invisible generic disability. That means your windows of energy shrink down beyond your wildest dreams. And it's not just that. It is how the world that interacts with you.
Peta [00:11:36] Thinking about the importance of social interaction and community and thinking about the disability community in general. I'm really interested to get your perspective on the differences between the LGBTQI+ community and the disability community and what the disability can learn. The disability community can learn from the LGBTQ community. Do you think?
Jasper [00:12:00] There's kind of this phenomenon in both in both camps where we dig deep and we listen so deeply. We have words for who we are, and we share that either with the world or with our closest safe people. And that's a vulnerable act. That's a vulnerable act. We don't do it lightly. And the only acceptable response to that is thank you and congratulations and I'm so excited to know you.
Peta [00:12:35] Yeah, That's great. That's lovely. Really lovely. I know how important the disability community has been to me and how supportive it could be. So while I don't have the full insight to completely agree with what you just said, I'm also interested to know whether your gender identity and your disabled identity influence each other, or are they separate parts of who you are Jasper?
Jasper [00:12:58] It's all in the same soup pot, it really is. And I think also it's that thing of you can't be it if you can't see it. I had no idea until I saw people like me the first time I heard the word the term non-binary, I was interviewing a musician and they told me someone in their band was non-binary. I pretended I knew what it was. I didn't. But I looked it up afterwards and I just felt robbed. I felt like, Why? Why is this new to me? Why? Why is why is everyone not talking about this? And. And binary gender is such a colonial construct. It's it's this thing that was brought in to to silence people and diminish who they are. There are other other options then door number one And door number two. I couldn't get to that part of myself until I was so isolated in the pandemic, because my job before COVID hit was I was a marriage celebrant and I made sure I was very, very, very busy. And my head was very full of other people's stories because my own was too painful. It was too I didn't understand it and I couldn't. And I was confused, so confused my whole life until recently. And then I discovered my my gender and my my, my neurodivergence.
Peta [00:14:37] Knowing that your disability identity came first. Mm hmm. How was that as far as getting on the NDIS? All that process with that is reassuring for you to be like, Yes, this makes my disability quote, legitimate. How was that process for you?
Jasper [00:15:00] It's really strange to me that that a disability insurance scheme is not accessible, that I couldn't just fill out a form or write a statement or record a video of myself describing my experience and have that be what what determines whether I am worthy of support or not. What I had written would not have been accepted because I don't refer to myself in a deficit model. I don't think of myself in any form of deficit. I know that I need support to participate in the wider community, but I don't think of myself as a problem or an error or a burden. And I certainly don't feel that way about any other person. Who is neurodivergent or disabled, physically disabled, or has mental illness or any any flavour of what we're talking about. We are just part of humanity. A lot of us mask, a lot of us have to adapt in ways that are more disabling to fit in. But this system needs to be blown up and rebuilt because so many people are falling through the cracks. Yeah, it's deeply unjust and it has been life changing for me to receive NDIS support. I don't know how I would do without it now, because I'm inhabiting my life so much more deeply than I was before.
Peta [00:16:35] My whole life, I've been trying to build independence and the importance of independence, and I'm very proud of my capabilities. So it is so hard to speak to someone and say. Yes, I struggle to do X, Y, and Z. It's really, really difficult. And I find every time I go out of my plan, planning, meeting, I find I'm so drained. It takes me a few days. Going back to parents for a minute because I'm really before we end this conversation, I want to make sure that we talk about your beautiful book because it is so important. What do you hope parents will take away from your book?
Jasper [00:17:17] I hope that they know that they matter and that there is a place for them on the landscape of families and community and parents and that they are not alone. If they get stuck, there are endless arms to catch them. Find. Find your community, find your you people who are a bit like you. If you feel isolated where you live, there is a vibrant online world that is there to be with you every step of the way. The main point I wanted to get into into this book as well is that and this is, I guess, for parents of all kinds or people who desperately want to be parents. It is such a luck of the draw thing. It's it's like falling in love. You cannot force it and it feels unjust. It feels so, so hard when because I know we tried for years to have our babies and it felt like we were standing on the edge of a cliff just hoping we could keep our balance. If becoming a parent doesn't happen for you, it is no failing of yours as it is just a random circumstance. You have my my deep and and heartfelt love. For that, that situation as well.
Peta [00:18:47] Finally, I wanted to ask you, what do you hope for the future for people with disabilities?
Jasper [00:18:52] I thought we'd just get brighter and bigger and take up more space and create more space and that we get a seat at every table that we want to be at. One way or another, I hope that we are recognised for all that we are, and I hope that the NDIS becomes accessible and positive rather than inaccessible and negative. Those are my main hopes. I mean, I've got 700 more, but we're probably running out of time.
Peta [00:19:29] Thank you for listening to this week's episode. I hope you enjoyed it. If you did, can I encourage you to leave a writing interview on Apple Podcasts? We're currently sitting at 62 and I would love that number to grow a little bit more. It helps more people find the podcast, but regardless. Thank you so much for listening. I truly appreciate it. And until next week. Have a good one, guys. Bye. I'd like to pay my respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, but especially to the pioneering people where this podcast was recorded.