Silent, but heard

Read Time 2 min.

Silent, but heard

I’m proud to be self-diagnosed with selective mutism. I’m confident in my maturity, in the failures of the healthcare system to provide timely support, and the elevation of my own lived experiences to do this. Treatment is not something that interests me because I believe that my mutism is not a limitation or a challenge; it is simply a part of my identity, a ‘quirk’ if you will, that does not matter to those who care about me.

It’s worth pointing out the “selective” element – mutism does not affect me in comfortable environments in conversations with people I know and trust.

Mutism does not affect my ability to be empathetic, kind or unbarring. All it does is make my communication tools an extension of who I am and how I represent myself. When you take away the opportunity for me to use these tools, you are taking away my ability to express myself.

Some would say that it’s a complete juxtaposition for me to have so much freedom but willingly give it away to be more marginalised. I have no anxiety about new experiences; in fact, I find it euphoric to explore and expose myself – so why do I find it so hard to talk in these situations of selective mutism? I’d argue that I do talk, just not in the way society is accustomed to, a way that allows me to express myself while providing the habituation of a common ground for conversation. My portable ‘talking tool’ is a mutual platform, you cannot speak over someone, and it is more difficult to erase their voice. Combined with tone tags/indicators, and a bit of creativity, my non-verbal conversations are no different to my verbal conversations in their dignity. You use your mouth, I use my talking tool: we are the same.

I’m used to not having a voice. As a transgender, bisexual, invisibly-disabled woman with mental health issues, I am left out of activism supposed to support me. I am erased from parts of my own community, while my intersections force me to be more vulnerable than ever. It seems fitting that I don’t speak in many situations.

Sometimes, I speak, sometimes I don’t – but I don’t need to be heard to have a voice.