Any attempt by a group of disempowered people to challenge the status quo has been met by remarkably similar efforts to discredit them. The discrediting tactics used most frequently are:
1) If at all possible, to deny that the persons mounting the challenge are really members of the group to which they claim membership. This tactic has been used against disability activists with learning disabilities and psychiatric disabilities as well as against autistic people. As people with these disabilities often look “normal” and … many of us have been told that the very fact that we are able to express ourselves, object to the ways our freedom has been restricted or our rights violated, and demand change proves that we cannot truly be autistic, or learning disabled, or psychiatrically impaired.
2) If there is incontrovertible evidence that the activists are members of the affected group, to aver that they are rare exceptions who are so unlike typical members … that what they have to say is irrelevant to the group as a whole.
3) If it is not possible to deny that the activists are authentic representatives, … to appeal to the very prejudices and stereotypes the activists are seeking to overturn, and use those prejudices and stereotypes to claim that the activists are incapable of fully understanding their situations and knowing what is best for them. Often this approach incorporates the belief that disabled people need to have their freedom restricted for their own good, to protect them from coming to harm through their inability to act in their own best interests.