Resisting Ableism, Queering Desirability


Extending the call

With the current global COVID-19 pandemic and the various economic crises we are living across the Global South, Kohl and DAWN have decided to reopen the call for papers for essays, reflections, testimonies, literary pieces, and experimental and creative collaborations. Disability justice always called for loving and caring for the most marginalized among us. In times like COVID-19, the ways the system fails the most marginalized, though not exceptional to times of crisis, are exposed and become impossible to ignore. In a neoliberal world where workers are simultaneously valued by their capitalist productivity and deemed disposable, we face societal gaslighting, as queers, as disabled folks, as workers, as womxn. This renewed call is to reflect on solidarity that is not constructed on an either/or: we are witnessing pods of solidarity being created, especially in relation to lockdown and physical distancing, and these do not necessarily mean complicity with police states. Instead, they are a way to show the most vulnerable (especially those with compromised immune systems) that their lives and health matter and will continue to matter. Therefore, we would like to think through the following questions: What does looking out for each other mean, not just in times of crisis, but in terms of building sustained and sustainable solidarity? How do we fight against the medical industrial complex and the healthcare systems when these are built on ableist and racist premises that define whose bodies/minds are more important, essential, and more urgently deserving of care than others? What does it mean to put things on pause, and how do we resist the eugenist triage that starts to happen? How do we resist going back to “normal” when this “normal” meant disposability for disabled and marginalized folks?


General call 

“[Disability Justice] means we are not left behind; we are beloved, kindred, needed.”
- Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice


We are pleased to invite submissions for the joint special issue of Kohl: a Journal for Body and Gender Research and the DisAbled Women’s Network of Canada, slated for publication in April 2020. Disability community and disability justice movement activists, individuals who identify as living with any form of disability and who are writing from their lived-experiences, independent disability studies researchers, and all Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous, People of Colour (QTBIPOC) living with disabilities are particularly encouraged to apply.

Our definition of disability is broad. Without it being an exhaustive list, it encompasses the following: learning disabilities (dyslexia, aphasia, dyscalculia, etc.), loss of sight, loss of or reduced mobility, mental health issues (anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and other traumas, schizophrenia, etc.) intellectual disability and developmental disabilities, living on the autism spectrum, speech disorder, eating disorders, chronic diseases or pain, environmental hyper-sensitivities, brain damage and others. While recognizing that many Deaf people do not identify as having a disability, we also promote the inclusion of people who are Deaf and hard of hearing, in full respect of their identities.

This special issue stems from a collaboration that started with Kohl and DAWN co-facilitating a workshop titled “Ableism in Queer Communities: (Re)Queering Desirable Bodies and Minds” at the first LBQ Women’s Conference in Cape Town, South Africa, in July 2019. We would like to continue exploring the following questions: What does resisting ableism in queer communities look like? How do we move away from toxic ideas of what “typically desirable” queer and trans racialized bodies and minds look like toward transformative ideas of justice and liberated queer perspectives and, as Mia Mingus states it, “resist the ableism that divides us?” What does it look like to (re)queer desirability, bodily autonomy and agency for disabled queer folks, particularly QTBIPOCs living with disabilities? At the same time, in the context of West Asia and North Africa, we are interested in conceptualizations of disability justice as indivisible from social justice struggles, and in exploring the gaps that exist between sexuality movements and disability justice movements. We would like to consider and challenge the ways in which many forms of activism favor and visibilize able-bodied individuals, and expose the victim discourse sustained by NGOization and funding trends when it comes to disabilities. We aim to ultimately consider ableism to be a marker of inclusion in the systems we seek to dismantle, as activists on the margins and operating at the intersection of disability and non-normativity.


Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • Disabled and queer: body/mind desirability and pleasure
  • Disabled and queer: on showing up as your full self
  • Resisting the isms in queer communities: how do we resist ableism and its intersection with racism, colonialism, capitalism, classism, and cishetero-patriarchy
  • Bodily autonomy, agency, and power: on being queer, disabled, and in control
  • Loving our disabled body/minds: self-love as community love and movement building
  • Crip time is the best time: how queer disabled narratives help us rest and resist the “productivity-at-all-costs” or burnout culture
  • Rape culture is rooted in ableism: how queer disabled folks change the narrative
  • How disability justice, reproductive justice, racial justice, environmental justice intersect
  • Deconstructing ableism through the ugly and the weird
  • Access and accessibility in technology: what kind of ICTs?
  • Access and archiving: queer/crip histories and modes of documentation
  • NGOization and the glorification of certain forms of visible activism at the expense of others
  • Being outside the system: disabilities as a weapon of war, neoliberalism, and state formations
  • Linguistic pieces on disability justice and how it has been explored in the languages and dialects of Arabic-speaking countries (for the full linguistic call, click here).

This call is open to transnational submissions, but we will prioritize submissions from West Asia and North Africa.


To submit a paper, opinion piece, essay, conversation, interview, poem, sci-fi short story, or visual art piece (drawings, photos, etc.), please send your piece to as a .doc or .docx file, with “Special Issue on Resisting Ableism” as the subject of your e-mail.

We accept work in progress, provided full drafts are submitted. If accepted for inclusion, please note that your paper will be translated to a second language by our team.