March is Trisomy Awareness month and there have been a lot of recent changes going on in the media highlighting people with chromosomal abnormalities. The term trisomy refers to an extra chromosome, most commonly chromosome 13, 18, or 21. Although there is still a lot of progress to be made, there have been strides in the media and society to change the view from only seeing a person’s disability and to remove the (dis) and instead to focus on each persons’ ability. Below are a few current topics in the news and on television that have placed Down syndrome front and center.
The new 2018 Gerber baby has recently been announced and the honor has gone to Lucas Warren, who is the first child with Down syndrome to be chosen. The choice comes in the midst of the current debate on states passing laws making it a crime for a doctor to abort a fetus solely for prenatal test results showing an increased risk of certain chromosomal defects, such as Down syndrome. Utah, North Dakota, Ohio, Indiana, and Louisiana have all passed bills along these lines, but have been met by opposition by Planned Parenthood and other organizations who argue that it restricts abortion instead of protecting people with Down syndrome and undermines the doctor-patient relationship. The National Down Syndrome Society has not commented on the bills, but feels that physicians do not educate their patients enough on Down syndrome and the advancements in healthcare and social inclusion that have occurred over the years. However, in recent years the National Institute of Health has cut funding for Down syndrome making it the most poorly studied genetic condition in the United States.
Born This Way is an unstructured reality TV show that follows seven young adults with Down Syndrome. During every episode, these amazing seven individuals follow their lifelong dreams while embracing and overcoming their multiple daily challenges. The Emmy award-winning show highlights their abilities while shifting the perception about the potential and passion that individuals with disabilities have. Not only does the show provide its audience the opportunity to learn, through a lens, the importance of inclusion, but it also provides parents an opportunity to raise their voice and advocate for their kids and all individuals with disabilities. The main message the TV shows emphasizes is to celebrate and embrace diversity and the powerful message that Megan Bomgaars always says “Don’t Limit Me”.
One actress that has graced TV screens around America is Jamie Brewer. In 2011, Brewer entered broadcasting playing Addie Langdon, on the popular FX series American Horror Story. Since her debut appearance as Addie, she even returned back to the show for another season. Besides television, Brewer continues to make strides for those with Down Syndrome. In 2015, she became the first model with Down Syndrome to walk New York’s Fashion Week runway. In addition to that, she is currently the first actress with trisomy 21 on Broadway—her current acting endeavor. Still, being an actress doesn’t stop her from her activism, as she still continues her efforts with numerous non-profit organizations to bring awareness to those facing disabilities. Despite all, Jamie Brewer has broken barriers and overcome obstacles that most can only dream of.