“I have struggled with this every day my whole life,” Jørund Viktoria Alme, 53, told the Norwegian outlet Vi earlier this year, according to Reduxx.
“It is a cognitive dissonance: in the same way that I experience being a woman in a man’s body, I experience that I should have been paralyzed from the waist down. This is not a desire to be a burden on society. It is about the wheelchair being an aid for me to function in everyday life, both privately and at work,” Alme continued.
The publication noted that Velme faced backlash following a recent interview with Good Morning Norway (God Morgen Norge, GMN). It became such a big story that Norway’s TV 2 did a follow-up piece including the perspectives of four disabled women.
One of those interview subjects was an 18-year-old woman named Emma Sofie Grimstad who spent two months in a wheelchair after contracting an inflammatory disease.
She said “there are many who don’t have that choice” to be in a wheelchair.
“I don’t think everything should get airtime,” Grimstad told TV2. “[Alme’s] interview can harm people who are in wheelchairs and do not have a choice. It can even lead to suspicions about people who have no visible illnesses.”
Twitter users reading about Alme’s story were equally outraged, especially those who were disabled themselves or had family members who were.
“My daughter has had a wheelchair since she was 18 [months] old – it was tiny, specially made,” one person shared. “The 1st thing she said was, ‘I walk!’ This man should be ashamed. But…of course he’s not.”
“‘Able-bodied male uses wheelchair almost always [because] he identifies as a woman who is paralyzed.’ Mental illness is reaching levels we never thought possible,” another agreed.
“This is so insulting,” another Twitter user shared. “I’m a wheelchair user. I went through excruciating pain with spinal & neurological damage. It’s not a joke & this to me is mocking me & others who’ve suffered awfully. Being in a chair has taken so much life away from me & my family. This is appalling.”
Per PubMed, body integrity identity disorder (BIID) is an “extremely rare phenomenon of persons who desire the amputation of one or more healthy limbs or who desire a paralysis. Some of these persons mutilate themselves; others ask surgeons for an amputation or for the transection of their spinal cord.”
Alme replied directly to the criticism, saying, “I have struggled with my own shame and prejudices for 50 years before I was so bothered by BID that I finally had to open up about it.” The Norwegian said the interviews were done to promote “diversity and inclusion.”
When asked if the BID was sexually motivated, Alme replied, “I don’t know, maybe so.”
Alme described being “envious” of an elementary school-aged child with crutches.
“My reaction was an intense interest. My heart pounded, my pulse increased and I was activated in my body. I was incredibly focused on him and what this was all about. Everyone gathered around and was going to try the crutches, while I kept my distance. I was so afraid that someone would find out what was going on inside me,” Alme told the Norwegian outlet Budstikke.
Reduxx noted that GMN was deleting negative comments on their social media pertaining to the news story about Alme.