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But I wasn’t helping the situation by keeping the existence of my disability concealed, springing it upon people only when I thought it felt right.

In retrospect, this served only to contribute to the stigma I usually work so hard to fight. In every other area of my life, my disability is front and center.

A few minutes later, he replied, but instead of responding to my reptilian inquiry, he asked, “Are you in a wheelchair?

”I kept my answer simple and told him that yes, I do use a wheelchair, but I was much more interested in the back story of the iguana.

But I became skittish about revealing my disability, because in an already shallow dating culture, I believed my wheelchair would cause most men to write me off without a second thought. Once I thought I’d spoken with a guy long enough to establish his interest, I’d choose a moment to strike, telling him about my disability.

I’d send a long-winded explanation divulging my wheelchair use, reminding him that it didn’t make me any less of person and ending with reassurance that he could ask me questions, should he have any.

Thinking that would make for an easy conversation starter, I messaged him.

But I’d like to think you’ll keep reading and dive a little deeper.

And you’re welcome to ask questions, should you have any.”Once I added that paragraph, I felt liberated, relieved that anyone I spoke to would have a clearer picture of me.

Because I was born with my disability — Larsen syndrome, a genetic joint and muscle disorder — I’d already gathered a pile of romantic rejections seemingly big enough to fill an Olympic swimming pool by the time I downloaded Tinder.

This particular rejection, however, unleashed a wave of panic within me.

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