Consider this as your lesson course of the ASL Interpreter Biasing Etiquette Program. Because I would review and grade your test after you read this. You’ve got an enormous ass F on your head if you flunk my class! Please treat me as your own ASL instructor, and thank you very much! (you’re sarcastically mocked by me)
This open letter is addressed only to HEARING FOLKS & ASL INTERPRETERS. This is NOT for Deaf people working as certified Deaf interpreters, Deaf talent actors, or in various contexts. I am here to direct my frustrations to the ones who have been granted hearing privileges! In the workplace or on business occasions, when discussing politics, religious views, or controversial topics should be avoided, I find it difficult to comprehend why some ASL interpreters (again, hearing people) are like that! Why have some hearing people openly expressed themselves as Trump supporters or extremist democrats to their deaf clients on duty? I mean, if you’re still on your payroll to pass along the information to your Deaf clients, you should not speak at all costs about your political opinions or religious beliefs! That’s NOT okay! It’s not very professional of you!
Although I promise you that not every one of your Deaf clients thinks the same way you feel about politics, religion, and other controversial topics as you openly discuss or debate with them. The good news is that some of your deaf clients may agree with you on some of the things you mentioned to them. It’s only a matter of… PERSONAL BOUNDARIES & COMMON SENSE! You need to know that NOT everyone in the Deaf community agrees with what you say politically or religiously. You know what I’m sayin’? Right? In other words, with no pun intended, why are you promoting your biased opinions on social media? Don’t encourage deaf people to engage with your bias if you’re on the payroll or volunteer interpreting!
Also, remember what happened to the shitstorm on multiple newspapers and mainstream media news in early 2021: Heather Mewshaw as a supporter of President Donald Trump. I don’t want you to make the same mistake Heather made! You don’t have to be her in tabloid news! Or you could be next!
Why do you expect deaf people to begin to subscribe to your biased beliefs? Why do some interpreters believe that their Deaf people will go to Hell if they don’t have similar religious beliefs? Not everyone in the Deaf community is Christian like you. There’s no damning them if they don’t believe in Hell, and you can’t pin them in Hell. You can’t say they’re going to Hell if they don’t show their support for Donald Trump.
It’s what makes me so curious about you. I was wondering why some interpreters feel that way. To be honest, your discriminatory behavior is sometimes a bit ridiculously absurd and pointless!
I wanted to clarify some specific talking points that ASL interpreters who like being exposed to their deaf clients have while interpreting on social media. Your one-sided intellect, on the other hand, possibly felt threatened by my insatiable curiosity and interrogations. If I offended you, please accept my half-hearted apologies; nevertheless, these valid concerns need better responses for our minority groups and marginalized communities, rather than coddling your feelings as I made my point. I’m NOT here to coddle you at all. I need to identify your vulnerabilities and prescribe your symptoms.
- Charity Case Crisis of ASL Interpreters (Also, Religious Toxicity)
- Sympathy Toxicity of ASL TERPS
- Political Toxicity of ASL TERPS
- Should ASL TERPS Be Held Accountable For Bias?
- Biased Interpreting Etiquette (23 Tips)
I’ve seen these 5 biased problems in ASL Interpreters many times since 2011 when I decided to share my personal experiences with you. Specifically, it has been since 2011, when I graduated high school and entered the real world on my own. Yet, at the same time, I have had many conversations with sign language interpreters on social media that do not have the same religious perceptions as in a religious context. Some people may not believe in Jesus Christ, Satan, Buddha, or Islamic teachings. Others are Political Toxicity, who enjoy battling digitally with the Deaf community on all social media platforms available to them. This depends on who is involved and what they do. The basic questions asked for answers: Is it necessary to engage the deaf people with your biases to win their way of thinking? Are you on the payroll while you’re on your laptop, or are you translating as a volunteer while you’re on Facebook? You’re off the clock? Do you think it’s appropriate? Would that get you in trouble for sharing your biased opinions?
For me, the most significant symptom is that there is a glaring lack of balance between the various belief systems. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE MIDDLE GROUNDS?! WHERE HAS SWITZERLAND GONE? WHERE DID THAT BALANCE GO? It’s just the fact that there are so many different beliefs and different points of view. There’s too many of ’em! You can’t decide which religion is the best option and override everything else. One belief does not represent all, nor does it portray it as superior to all others. This is NOT the American way! There is NO way to identify a belief system that is superior to others. I saw you trying to get the Deaf client involved with your biased viewpoints on your payroll. Please stop gaslighting them online or in person. You should also bear in mind that NOT everyone in the Deaf community is appropriately educated to think for themselves, as you know. Some deaf people have second-grade reading skills and are unable to think for themselves. That’s why they turned their attention to you for answers. They believe you have answers for everything since they’re lagging behind on news and current affairs. They were the last ones to know what was happening in this world. I know that you know this.
Since you have a viewer rating and “hearing” audience on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok. You are one of the Religious Toxicity Interpreters or Politicity Toxicity Interpreters… Either way… Because you actively promote your viewpoints on the Internet and want to show off in front of “hearing friends” or “random strangers” unfamiliar with American Sign Language. Some ASL interpreters made money with their Tik-Tok videos, which they created by dancing, singing with hands, or teaching ASL. Some of you look for inspiration-porn tips or the chance to become famous. And as a result of religion or politics, your “hearing” audience ended up applauding you, cheering you on, and celebrating you like an icon! If you believe that deaf people are charitable causes, you are definitely in the wrong profession. You are not allowed to bring your biases into this work at any cost, no matter what!
Religious Toxicity Interpreters compulsively pursue and expect to receive heavenly blessings from Jesus Christ after their death, which, according to them, will come after their death. They said to themselves proudly, “I did what I had to do. God will award me with crowns and prizes as a result of my deeds.”
Political Toxicity Interpreters compulsively pursue and expect to receive the Nobel Prize or got the scholarship funds from governments and world leaders when recognized for their work in the deaf community. They said, “I’m an icon now. The deaf community will look up to me as a model. I’m a political movement now.”
No, don’t start with me like that. I ain’t got no time for this bullshit!
So you know we’re NOT your fucking charity case, just so you know! We are NOT the source of your inspiration to entertain the ableist/audist society. Your decision to continue doing this kind of work for Deaf clients does NOT strike me as very professional. I simply thought that was very rude and inconsiderate to the other person. Aside from that, don’t get into the field of ASL interpretation just because you felt sorry. That is the Sympathy Toxicity if you only want to feel sad. As appealing as it may seem, this employment is not the same as a dream job. No one in the Deaf community, and again, NOBODY, is pleading for your sympathy at this time! This must be stopped immediately!
Charity Case Crisis of ASL TERPS
(Also Religious Toxicity)
- Some Deaf people are atheists, Pagans, or else
- “God Told Me So.”
When it comes to Deaf clients you have worked with, you are probably misleading them for religious reasons, even though some deaf people cannot read the Bible correctly. Obviously, your concern is to save an unlucky soul from eternal torment in a fiery hell. However, I do not overwhelmingly support the idea of forcing religious beliefs on deaf people. You must realize that we are NOT all opposed to being saved from the insanity you have described in Hell. Some of us are atheists, to tell you the truth. Also, some of us are pagans, Wiccans, or have a different religion. Please refrain from preaching your Bible quotes on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc. Respect our beliefs!
Why don’t you quit your job as an ASL interpreter if you want the freedom to talk about your religious beliefs? Seriously! Stop coming to my medical appointments, schools, court orders, seminars, nonreligious events, and political campaigns! You should only volunteer as a church interpreter on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. Religious institutions such as churches and temples are where you should be the most comfortable as if at home. Maybe you’ll be there forever. If you enjoy ASL translations in churches or other places of worship, that would be fine. Your religious belief is NOT my problem if your church does not compensate you relatively because of the exemption laws. Some churches prefer unpaid volunteers instead of professional interpreters. I know you don’t enjoy volunteering without pay. Sucks to be you!
Maybe you should set up your own church that covers your health insurance, housing bills, and etc. I dunno. Don’t ask me how.
Just because I’m an atheist doesn’t mean I’m supposed to be treated like a charity case. Hell, no! As long as you continue to conduct yourself professionally, I do not intend to make you look good for anyone to see. The assumption that God would bestow heavenly blessings upon you, even if you were merely serving the deaf people on religious grounds, would have been a very deceptive lie. We (the deaf as an entire community) are not something you should look for to get blessings from God! You don’t deserve your viewer ratings or audience, or the benefits of your “godhead,” whom you pray to every night before going to sleep, as your toxic behavior has shown itself. As a result of your claim that you were “rescuing” the guilty souls of the Deaf community, I have my doubts about the benefits of receiving rewards, prizes, or earning trophies in Heaven. Please, don’t start with me on this!
Don’t do that!
I once met an ASL interpreter who told me, “Oh, the only reason I became an ASL interpreter is because God told me so,” which I found very LESS amusing. This is precisely how I got upset! This just shows you were sympathetic to my plight as if you were willing to take care of me for the rest of your life. I, for one, find it very hard to listen to this nonsense. Do not convert to becoming an ASL interpreter merely because you believe that your God has commanded you to do so. Your ill-advised fantasies may have led you to pursue a career out of sympathy! I object to Sympathy Toxicity toward people with disabilities!
Please save me the trouble of killing myself. Please refrain from telling deaf people that the phrase “God told me so.” Believe me when I say this isn’t even as close as the cute puppy. ‘Cause, that doesn’t sound cute at all. No, don’t say that! Everyone in the deaf community, like I told you before, does NOT want to be your charity case! This is not how I enjoy interacting with ASL interpreters during my appointments. This deeply insults my intelligence and is highly disrespectful to my disability. Not kidding!
Look! Don’t get me wrong: I don’t hate ASL interpreters. I really don’t! The Deaf community as a whole does, in fact, need your assistance to vocally interact with essential workers in our lives, such as hospital employees, physicians, attorneys, our bosses we worked with, onstage theaters, and other venues of appointments and etc. I agree that ASL interpreters are here to assist deaf people in overcoming barriers to communication between their clients and hearing people. But that doesn’t make you more special than the others. You’re not “the one,” and you’re not Jennifer Love Hewitt from the Ghost Whisperer TV show. We don’t want to rely on you in the same way that people relied extensively on Moses, the biblical prophet. The purpose of our presence is not to encourage and reward you or to give you a good face! This is not about your feelings or your beliefs. Don’t take this the wrong way.
I’m not complaining that you love working with Deaf people. Having you with me on job interviews, medical checkups, workshops, and college classes. Thank you for your hard work. I’m fully aware that you have done everything in your power to keep your nose as clean as you can! However, you must comply with the rules and regulations that govern your job as an interpreter. I’m aware that you are aware of this. If you come across someone whose views are diametrically opposed to yours, you are asked not to be wronged against them. In this situation, you are expected to maintain a professional manner at all times. Consider this: your employer has told you what you are and are not permitted to do on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other social media platform. I understand that you have established personal boundaries online and do not want to be friends with deaf people who are “too curious” about your personal life. Yes, I understand where you’re coming from. Your wish to avoid having issues with your employer is also understandable. But what I’m saying is that if you choose to promote your religious view online or personally, you should be very careful about what you say. No one in the deaf community should be forced to accept your point of view, no matter how passionately and actively you disagree. It’s NOT our responsibility to stand in the way or pave the way for you to get in. To be honest, that kind of attentive yearning is NOT shared by every Deaf person—I mean, it’s none of our business to know what’s going in your private life. It’s undoubtedly NONE of your business to understand what we do, believe, and why we chose it. There is NO need for anyone to see why you decided to follow a particular faith. However, if you want to discuss this publicly with someone, you need to find someone who shares your perspective. Please keep in mind that deaf people should not be used for charity cases. Thank you!
Sympathy Toxicity of ASL Interpreters
Even though Sympathy Toxicity and Religious Toxicity are not precisely the same, they are very similar in weird respects. However, the toxicity of sympathy is not mainly related to religion. It’s not required, although it may be used in some situations. It’s more a question of psychological abuse than physical assault. In this case, it’s more about how ASL interpreters use specific phrases to harm Deaf people, such as infantilizing or taking them down like a lower class of caste system. For example, creating weird facial expressions that may upset a deaf client is not a great way to improve the situation between you and that client. It seems that you are making fun of the client in an insipid way, but you’re doing it to appear sympathetic. You don’t need to bore us Deaf people with your “baby words” or “baby facial expressions.” Because that’s a bit too much! You made a fool of yourselves by infantilizing us! Seriously!
“I felt terrible for you because you are Deaf, therefore I want to learn sign language,” is the exact phrase religious people use to say, “God told me so,” which is pretty much the same problem. Some atheists sympathize with Deaf people pursuing careers as ASL interpreters in a similar toxic way, but with a slightly different method. That doesn’t really change the reality of sympathetic toxicity because that’s still a bad idea.
“I’ve previously felt sorry for you, but I don’t feel sorry for you anymore since you are the same as always.” Remember, Deaf people had no clue that you eternally felt sorry for us, didn’t you? But at the same time, we haven’t pressured you to continue or make you feel guilty regularly. This is NOT at all what we were looking for! You may have misunderstood what we were saying and what we were doing. Because we have so many health problems and hearing loss, sympathy does not miraculously cure-all. Look, we don’t need that. It’s neither helpful nor healthy!
POLITICAL TOXICITY OF ASL TERPS
Political Toxicity is not the same as Religious Toxicity or Sympathy Toxicity, and they are NOT synonymous. But this is pretty close to the two toxins that are worth mentioning. Political Toxicity plays a more crucial role in the religious community on many levels. However, this is an issue that exists in both religious and non-religious societies. Political Toxicity is likely the two sides of the same coin on both sides of the political chessboard. No matter how high you throw a quarter of a coin into the air over your head, it’ll always land on its side. When it lands in the palm of your hands, you begin to catch it and observe which side of the coin will turn up first. I don’t care who wins or loses when you flip a coin: HEADS OR TAILS. WHO CARES?! There are no sports teams in Political Toxicity, like football or basketball, since there are no sports teams between Democratic and Republican!
But unfortunately, Conspiracy Theory (aka Deep State gossip) is included in Political Toxicity, although it shouldn’t be. “Join Me Or Die,” as Darth Vader says, is a superb direct illustration of the phrase. Nor are there any middle grounds or peace treaties in Political Toxicity. That is why we have often been challenged, interrogated, and threatened with having to pick sides and teams! If we strongly disagree, we are going to face the consequences. “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t” is a rule that applies in a situation like this.
Political toxicity, I would argue, is primarily characterized by emotional abuse and psychological attacks on Deaf people. ASL interpreters use particular techniques and terminologies to manipulate the Deaf community to engage with their political bias and support them, even though they are politically incorrect. This is EXACTLY what the Political Toxicity is all about. For example, spreading false allegations about Democrat politicians who are devil worshippers is seen as a logical fallacy and paranoia. It can harm and mislead Deaf people by making them believe that this must be true.
The worst part about Political Toxicity is that NOT everyone in the Deaf community is knowledgeably familiar with political information based on facts and myths. Some Deaf people can’t separate facts from myths or alternate realities. Some of them can’t read newspapers because of their intelligence or because they don’t consistently see what’s going on in the current news because they don’t have the basic literacy skills. That’s why they have the Daily Moth videos for that. Don’t forget that some Deaf people have a reading level equivalent to or lower than a second-grade student. Due to language deprivation during their childhood and early puberty years, some of them operate at a Kindergarten reading on conscience level. Therefore, they do NOT all have the same level of access to information and knowledge that you have exceeded them. Remember, they weren’t given the same privileges as you. That’s one thing you have to keep in mind.
So, you should avoid taking advantage of Deaf people and stop trying to force your bias on them, even if they are uninterested or unconcerned with politics. Allow them to exist in peace. I understand that it’s very frustrating to educate your client who cannot learn, but we need to accept them for who they are. They’ll be able to observe information for themselves and learn by themselves. This is the best you can do for them. Let them make mistakes and improve themselves as human beings!
Once again, I’m not a massive advocate of imposing political biases on the Deaf community! You have to realize that NOT everybody favors sharing political views on social media or in a live person. Some of us are Liberals or Democrats, to name a few of us. What’s more, some of us identify as Republicans, Green Party, or Independents. Please stay away from preaching or promoting your biased views on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and other platforms. Thank you!
Should ASL Interpreters Be Held Accountable For Bias?
Ultimately, the answers are simple: YES & NO. ASL interpreters who behave in a discriminatory fashion can and should be held accountable at all costs. Only if policies, rules, and regulations of interpreting agencies are violated. Please, do research on your local employment, talk with your supervisors, and be forthright about what you are permitted to say in the videos posted on social media accounts, as well as what you are NOT allowed to do. You are in danger of losing your job, being transferred, or finding a new career in your life. Your deaf clients have a right to complain about you, condemn you, or respectfully request that you be replaced by another interpreter if they are dissatisfied with you. However, if you are persistently obstinate and disrespectful, you should consider leaving your job. It’s NOT worth the trouble! Whatever the case, it’s obviously not the right job for you!
ASL Interpreter Biasing Etiquette Program
With 23 Tips
- Do not center yourself or your feelings on political or religious issues. You’re here to do your job to pass along the information.
- Respect the boundaries of Deaf people regardless of their upbringing, background, politics, or belief systems. We all have different walks of life. Including you, too.
- No tone policing while you professionally interpret anywhere in front of your Deaf client or crowds watching you. If you are NOT 100% comfortable translating profanity or offensive wording only because of your religious beliefs. QUIT your job now! Go interpreting in your own church!
- Race/Religious/Political Shifting is a consistent problem in ASL interpreting agencies, a huge problem! No one cares about your 50 times grandfather’s bloodline origins. No one cares if you have any last quarter blood droplets of black people, you still have white privileges. No one cares if you are a secret member of the Illuminati. No one cares if you are a conspiracy theorist or realist. No one cares if you were a famous scientist or a porn star before becoming an ASL interpreter. You are not here to gaslight or persuade Deaf People to join your personal and private activities on the job. You are NOT here to advertise your beliefs and activism to them. You are here to do your job by giving the information from the media agencies, political agencies, or whatever agency you are under the contract with. Don’t tell people that you used to be a former Democrat or Republican. You are not here to change their minds while doing your job or after doing the job. Before and after. As long as you are in the same room with a Deaf audience or clients, especially when you’re still exposed to the agency’s policy on codes of conduct! Just follow the damn rules!
- Hearing Privileges, Religious Toxicity, Ableist, Extremist, Conspiracy Theorist, Settler, and Colonizer, are not derogatory words. They are facts to help you see that you’re part of the problem. These are the privileges you proudly abuse in front of Deaf clients or Deaf audiences while doing your job as an interpreter.👏 Own your mistakes! 👏 Get it together!👏Grow up!
- Deaf people can be the actual victims of the religious trauma syndrome or political brainwashing rhetoric. Still, they cannot be viewed as discrimination against the BIASED interpreters for not having the same privileges or opinions. If you felt that the clients disrespect your religious beliefs or political views, you try persuading them to join your lifestyle. We deaf people can’t be held responsible if you are unprepared or emotionally traumatized due to backlashes, criticisms, or being called out. THAT’S ON YOU! You chose to let the false conception of discrimination that doesn’t exist also piss you off! We don’t have to be nice to religious extremists or biased extremists who are bent on brainwashing and deviating away from our senses of reality. We don’t accept toxic messages that could hurt us and including the known identities or belief systems.
- Calling you out isn’t derogatory. Stop acting like it is. Calling you out is how you will do better in the future, so you won’t do it again.
- Cultural appropriation or political disguising as in the Trojan Horse, for example, Heather, an actual Trump supporter in a Democratic environment on live TV news, is also a huge problem. Being hired to interpret an opening announcement from a regular agency or the government. But it’s different when you are participating in any news platform, which doesn’t necessarily give you a free pass to claim these experiences as your own. It is not the same as vicarious therapy. Please, keep your hands clean!
- If attending events in person, always show up neutral and be sensitively aware of your clients’ boundaries and needs.
- Correct your sign language or respect the choices of signs for politicians and religious beliefs in the Deaf community, but if you meet a client who wants different signs. Respect their requests, as well.
- You are a guest in the Deaf spaces. Always remember that. You are not automatically invited to every aspect of that space.
- Do not demand acceptance from a Deaf client, especially from your biased opinions. Again, respect boundaries. You don’t know a certain thing, don’t demand to be discussed and debated.
- Some Deaf Clients do not like certain words in ASL. I, for one, do not like “boy” or the wrong gender pronouns. Respect that.
- Deaf People are under no obligation to educate you, coddle your feelings or guilt at any time. We are NOT responsible for your personal damage controls since you probably are the one causing problems! Think carefully before you speak, type, or sign online! You’re at your own risk!
- Deaf people have been industrially brainwashed, spoon-fed, and falsely informed for hundreds of years. Deaf people have been forced to side with different faiths, even political biases, and another huge problem. Deaf people have always accepted what they’ve already been told since they never bothered to ask questions about their own or failing to understand what’s going on in the real world around them. You know, as an ASL TERP, you’re basically here to help them think for themselves. You’re not here for yourself. So it means that Deaf people are allowed to have strong opinions and emotions under the U.S. Constitution of First Amendment and Bill of Rights. For example, if you met a Deaf Pagan, do not quickly assume that they are devil worshipers. They’re allowed to say whatever they want without having to get approval from you. Even though you may disagree with them.
- Helping the Deaf community as a highly responsible liaison is NO EASY JOB. It can be very exhausting and frustrating!
- You’re gonna mess up. That’s okay. We are only human.
- Unlearning unconscious biases take a long time. Respect is a lifelong learning process.
- You see racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and many isms/phobias. You shut that down immediately. But at the same time, do not interrupt if you’re on duty to interpret. Wait until it is finished, then you can leave and report a complaint.
- Do not ask Deaf people, such as “how much percentage of Democratic you are?” Or like this: “Well, you don’t look Catholic to me,” This is NOT okay. Uncool. It’s none of your f-ing business! Just do the f-ing job that you’re being paid!
- 21. Know your place of hearing privilege. You are already being paid for doing your job, so keep your opinions to yourself! Or lose your money!
- Not all Deaf Folks want to engage with your bias.
- Respect the difference will make you 100% uncomfortable at times and make you question everything in your life. Be prepared to be uneasy at times. Be prepared to step up at certain times of your life. This is only scratching the surface. Just be respectful.
Thank you for reading, and share away!