Bennett-Hogg has Ehlers-Danlos syndromes and uses a PEG-J tube and an SPC tube but it isn't visible.
It can be incredibly traumatic for a disabled person to be asked to prove their disability. Not all disabilities are visible and this can often lead to judgment from strangers, especially when using disabled parking spots. Katie Bennett-Hogg is diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndromes (EDS), a group of rare inherited conditions that can make connective tissue weaker and can affect different people in different ways. Those with EDS can have loose, unstable joints that dislocate easily, extreme tiredness (fatigue), skin that bruises easily, digestive problems, problems with internal organs, such as mitral valve prolapse or organ prolapse, and problems with bladder control, among other things according to the NHS.
Katie Bennett-Hogg took to Twitter to share an instance of being judged by a stranger simply because she didn't look disabled. "Today, I was tutted at when parking in a disabled space. I had all these tubes hidden under my clothes, so I looked like a young, healthy person. But in reality, I still have a disability, despite choosing to hide my tubes. Friendly reminder that most disabilities are invisible!" she wrote. The tweet went viral and was liked more than 300,000 times and shared 29,000 times.
Today I was tutted at when parking in a disabled space. I had all these tubes hidden under my clothes, so I looked like a young, healthy person. But in reality, I still have a disability, despite choosing to hide my tubes. Friendly reminder that most disabilities are invisible! pic.twitter.com/8W3x5VzsAb— Katie Bennett-Hogg (@npo_speechie) July 25, 2022
Bennett-Hogg has Ehlers-Danlos syndromes and as a result, has a percutaneous endoscopic gastro-jejunal (PEG-J) tube, which is a feeding tube that is passed through the abdominal wall and into the stomach. A PEG-J allows liquid feed, fluid and medications directly into the jejunum for people unable to take enough food or fluids by mouth, according to NHS. She also had an SPC tube (suprapubic catheter), a device that's inserted into the bladder to drain urine for people who can't urinate on their own.
‘Right now, someone may be praying to be in your position’— Katie Bennett-Hogg (@npo_speechie) November 7, 2021
As I scroll through social media this weekend, it’s easy to feel jealous, and wish I was out shopping, or drinking cocktails, or even just to be able to see my family. But… (A thread) 1/ pic.twitter.com/spzviZmgiD
So the point of this post is to say I truly believe there are things to be grateful about everywhere. We’re 100% allowed to feel sorry for ourselves and I think it’s healthy to get upset when things go wrong. But it’s SO important to remember the things we DO have and be grateful— Katie Bennett-Hogg (@npo_speechie) November 7, 2021
You shouldn’t have to prove your disability to anyone ❤️ I get the same on a daily basis, I have an invisible physical disability and the amount of stares I get when I’m out in public on crutches is horrible!— Amy (@amyadams_slt) July 25, 2022
Twitter users supported her and shared their own experiences as well. "I had someone block my car in because they didn’t think I was disabled, so I started listing off the reasons for having the sticker. About two minutes in, he got embarrassed and tried to back out. I told him he “was going to sit there until I was done” telling him about my injuries," wrote one user. One Canadian wrote, "I have been threatened by a man for using a handicapped spot in the USA. I am from Ontario Canada, my permit is in the window. A man came at me yelling, pointing, and spitting at me. 'You are not in Canada, you can't use it here. You looking fine to me.'" Another added, "I use a wheelchair, which is most people's immediate concept of what disability means, and I still get tutted at when I pull up into an accessible space because I look like a normal mother until the kids get the chair out the car. So don't worry about it. It's a them problem."
Absolutely. Disability comes in many different forms, and people should not be pressured to "prove it" to random strangers. pic.twitter.com/aZzOWzDgOh— Julie & the Jays (@DonlanSteel) July 25, 2022
As we reported earlier this year, a woman opened up about having to hold her prosthetic leg in her hand to convince someone they were disabled. The man parked in a yellow stripe zone before heading her way to confront her about "stealing a space from people who actually need it." He accused her of being some "kid who has no respect for those who are truly sick and suffering." He escalated the argument further. "I said 'Okay,' and went to the car and got in like I was going to drive off. I was wearing a skirt and leggings so it wasn't quite obvious at first but when I sat down I took my leg off and showed it to the man, including my stump. I then asked him if it was okay if I still parked there. He walked away calling me disgusting and rude and said I could have just told him and I made him look stupid," she recalled.