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  • Writer's picturePeta

Layne Dixon: Living With A Disability & Being Bullied

On this week's episode, Peta chats to Layne Dixon, a disability advocate with cerebral palsy and a mental health diagnosis.

They discuss Layne's journey of overcoming bullying, the importance of representation in disability advocacy, internalized ableism, and their hopes for an inclusive future.

Connect with Layne:

Connect with Peta:

Instagram: @petahooke


Episode Transcript:

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 is Peter. I have cerebral palsy and I'm your host. And for eagle eared listeners, yes, I've changed the intro back to the original intro. I thought, I liked the change, but it turns out I don't. Let's just blame jet lag and move on. Today I have a fantastic guest. Their name is Lane Dixon. They also have cerebral palsy and really opened up about what it was like for them living with a disability and coping with bullying. So without any further ado, let's hand over to Lane.

Layne [00:00:55] Hi, my name Layne, Dixon. I use they them pronouns. I've got Cerebral Palsy and a mental health diagnosis. I'm an activist for disability and inclusion. As well as a writer and an author.

Peta [00:01:21] I'm so interested to know what made you become a disability advocate Layne?

Layne [00:01:28] The reason why I started working in this area is because I really didn't see anyone like me represented.

Peta [00:01:43] And what was it like for you growing up disabled in Australia?

Layne [00:01:49] My parents were open minded and accepting of my disability compared to a lot of other disabled people's parents who wrap their disabled child in bubble [wrap]. I did mainstream school for all of my life. The first school that I went to they wanted to like put me in the disability area, so segregate me amongst my peers in the same age group. Which I don't think is equal fair or right.

Peta [00:02:53] And when you finished school, did you know what you wanted to do? Has this always been being an advocate and using your words and your experience to help, to educate and help people better understand? Is that always been your overarching goal?

Layne [00:03:09] It's year ten or year 9. Yea, none has been big cause of how much bullying I've experienced. Not just from people my age but teachers as well

Peta [00:03:31] I'm really sorry to hear that. That's so hard and awful and not fair at all. How do you think you coped and got through that period and and what do you wish people better understood about you and your disability so you would point.

Layne [00:03:50] I personally think I did not cope well at all in that period. I leaned on my friends too much and looking back, now I shouldn't have done that. The thing that I recommend that young people look for people that see you as you and not think about your disability. Make sure that they are including your accessible needs.

Peta [00:04:31] How you going with your own personal internalised ableism Layne?

Layne [00:04:38] I've gotten a lot better with my own internalised ableism. I've had the good support workers over the time that have supported me through this. But there was one support worker of mine that aught me that it is ok to ask for help and to get a chair if I need to sit down. I always forget how grateful I am to have a voice because many people with CP don't have a voice to use and they rely on their guardians or support workers to be that voice for them. But I had I really difficult time in highschool. I always... I didn't know much about disability other than my own. So I thought it was my job to deal with the bullying, my own way. And not get a teacher to help me out. So I never really stood up for myself. But I'm getting there now.

Peta [00:06:23] That makes sense to me, particularly, as you mentioned, your bullying was not only from your peers, but also from teachers on occasions that you thought, you know what, I can't necessarily rely on the teachers to speak up for me, so I have to use my own voice.

Layne [00:06:43] I always thought the bullying was my fault because there were only two girls with CP at my school, me and someone else. The school I went to was very low in the disability attendance. I think that might be why I thought it was my fault that people were bullying me and that I should deal with it; not someone else whether it be an adult or a peer. I used to do athletics precovid. When I started the athlethics I was bullied a lot by people with disabilities and therefore I felt I wasn't welcome into the disability community. And I was too able to be a part of anything to do [with] having a disability. These two girls who had cerebral palsy as well. They were laughing my CP with how I walk and how I talk.

Peta [00:08:34] It must have been super difficult. Then. On the one hand, at school you're being bullied because of your disability and then when you got into athletics, you needed something positive for your physical and mental health. You're then being bullied because you're not disabled quote in the right way.

Layne [00:08:53] And you had the same issues with the walking, they just didn't find anyone else funny. Only me.

Peta [00:09:08] As someone that uses she/her pronouns. Can you help me understand what made you decide to use they/them pronouns?

Layne [00:09:19] She/her is just another box of expectations I tried to fit into. I don't want to fit into that so I use they/them.

Peta [00:09:35] Tell me, is there anything you don't like about living with your disability Layne?

Layne [00:09:42] I don't like how the world is inaccessible for people like us, for people with all types of impairments and disabilities because it doesn't enable us to live the best, life, the best independent life that we can. It must us feel like we are burdens on society.

Peta [00:10:20] Which we are of course not. But I. Yes, I totally get where you're coming from. So on the other side of the coin, is there anything you love about having your disability?

Layne [00:10:33] I like most things about my disability, but I love the way that I can live this very unique opportunity and to raise awareness about disability and mental health in the way that I do. Because if I don't have a disability then I wouldn't be where I am today or doing what I love to do. Disabilities aren't just people in a wheelchair. An example of this is [inaudible]. Access stickers are always a sign of a person in a wheelchair when it shouldn't really be.

Peta [00:11:39] I agree with you. I think that symbol is called the international symbol for access. That little person in a wheelchair. And I. I agree with you. I, I think it even for me, as somebody who uses a wheelchair every day, it's such a bland and boring explanation of what living with a disability can be. I'd like to think I'm not just sitting in my wheelchair waiting to be pushed by someone, but to think that I'm out in the world being active and I can appreciate why you want. I would like a better representation. What do you hope for the future for people with disabilities?

Layne [00:12:22] I hope the people with.. People in our community who have a disability can see themselves represented as an equal rather than the down here instead of up there[ points to the ceiling] because they are either sick which is just a lot or a burden which you and I definitely believe that disabled people are not burdens.

Peta [00:13:06] And what do you hope for the future for you Layne? I always like to ask a young person what their hopes and dreams are. What are your hopes and dreams?

Layne [00:13:16] I really want to write a book one day on my own personal experience as someone with a disability, but also my mental health and sporting journey. That is a really big goal of mine to one day publish a memoir like that.

Peta [00:13:45] Thank you for listening to this week's episode. I hope you enjoyed it. If you did, can I encourage you to leave it writing and review on whatever platform you're listening on and hit follow? So I pop up in your feed every week. If you have a question for me to answer for a future episode of the podcast, I would love to answer it for you. You can get in contact with me via my Instagram. My handle is at Peter Hook or by email. I can send podcasts at 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 Bunarong people where this podcast was recorded.


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