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From a psychological perspective, usually a miserable childhood can lead to some potential mental disorders like autism or even schizophrenia. The author of this book, Eli Clare, was born as a disabled with cerebral palsy, and was sexual abused by his father that his mother pretended to be unaware when he was young. Accompanied with the labels “freak” or “queer”, Clare experienced a difficult life as a disabled. However, he did not have a mental disorder under his miserable childhood. We even need to remind ourselves several times when we read this book that the author is a disabled and transgender with cerebral palsy, since the book contains many brilliant arguments and points of view towards the humankind and environment that go beyond our expectations of what a disabled person can achieve. Clare broke out the stereotypes and experienced a totally different life compared with other disabled, because he decided to lose something, both physically and mentally, of himself.


“My mother who was shaped entirely by absence and my father who taught me the hills and wood: they were my first thief.”1) It was the parent that stole Clare’s sense of home and family. Clare thought his homesick did not equal to nostalgia, because for him, the feeling of homesick was a kind of loneliness of family bond that shaped automatically deep under his skin and muscles. Clare wrote about his misfortune in a way that although he was narrating his own story, he had no emotional reaction like it was someone else’s life episode. In that case, he abandoned his misfortune that could impede his goal and give huge pressure to his mind. If he still wanted to bear the entire burden he had, including miserable childhood memory and “normal” people’ labels on him, he may really lose the life direction while form some common mental disorders under too much pressure. Family stole Clare’s body and Clare lost his family.


“My loss of home is about being queer.” 2) For Clare, he chose to discard his physical possessions as these things were only the outside part of him. What he felt nostalgia about is not being a “normal” person anymore. He began to lose the so called “norm” of distinguishing male and female, since from a very young age Clare could not find whether he was a boy or a girl. You may tended to be labeled as “queer” if you did not fit into any category of female or masculine that gave people their gender role and gender identity. And Clare gradually lost this sense of “what female should be and act” as he realized more and more about his inner self. If the loss of home for Clare is being a queer which means he had left “home” and on the way of being queer, the nostalgia he felt perhaps was the life experience when he was a “normal” person. He was losing the inner part, but at the same time, he built another strong inner heart that could support him in the later of his life. He lived a way queer lived, and became a transgender. Clare chose to loss the original way of thinking about “norm”, and instead, created the minority people’s own norm. They can be supercrip. They can be transgender. They can prove themselves as they overcome the dominant “norm” by their perseverance.


For some people who belong to the category of “minority”, they also loss something. But different from what Clare lost, they lost their inner soul without refilling it with new selves. They were assimilated by the “norm” that they thought they should obey “queer” and “freak” just as people’s labels on them. Then, they may lose courage, their real personality and their own value. It was also a way to survive as minority people but it was not the way the author, who shared kind of same experiences, believed it should be. Maybe one of the reasons Clare wrote this book was to tell people that disabled and transgender could have their own different lives. They could strive for a lifestyle they wanted that was not you guys was thought they should be.


According to the dictionary, “loss” can be something that is lost, or destruction or ruin. Clare destructed his attachment to his family in a way that only homesick from blood and muscle left and chose to become queer in this society that full of strict rules of “norm”. Through this book readers come into a world in which is so different from the lives they live in and begin to understand the world from a disabled person’s perspective. It is just people face different realities and situations but still live in a same world. The majority people can create their own norm, but they cannot deny the minority’s lifestyle and value. For the minority, as well as Clare himself, sometimes choose to lose part of him to change and to make progress.


                                                                                                                            Work Cited

Eli Clare, Exile and Pride: Disability, queerness and liberation, South end press, 1999

1) Page 145

2) Page 35