US Paralympian reveals that she is regularly ‘bullied’ by stranger for using disabled parking spaces
@jessicatatianalong/TikTok

US Paralympian Jessica Long has revealed on TikTok that a woman tried to shame her for using a handicapped parking spot, despite her being a bilateral amputee and having a parking permit.

The 29-year-old swimmer has won 13 Paralympic gold medals and has been competing for the US at the summer games since 2004 but one woman clearly didn’t recognise her.

In a TikTok video that she shared earlier this year and has been viewed more than six million times, Long explained that a woman “had the nerve to look her up and down disgusted because I parked in a handicapped spot.” Long adds that she told the woman that she doesn’t have legs to which the woman replied by rolling down her car window and saying: “You really shouldn’t park there.”

@jessicatatianalong/TikTok

Shockingly, Long adds that “this happens a lot” and has only become common in adulthood.

“I was never bullied as a kid and I didn’t know that I was going to be bullied by adults because I park in handicap. And I get it. I’m young, I’m athletic, but I’m also missing legs!

“And I know I make it look easy, but it’s still really hard. My legs are heavy, they hurt me. I’m in pain.”

Long ends the video by telling the ‘handicap police’ to “just be kind.”

Last year on Instagram, Long again spoke out against the bullying she had received from adults about using disabled parking spaces. In a caption, she wrote: “My worst experience to date was an older couple that followed me around a grocery store and kept making comments because they wanted the handicap spot I took and said that I didn’t need it. I even explained I had two prosthetic legs and they told me I was a liar.”

She added: “My point is this: you never know what someone is going through, but kindness always wins. Maybe you can’t figure out why a young person is parked in a handicap spot, and that’s okay... there’s a lot of “invisible” disabilities. I shouldn’t have to justify myself to strangers every time I use my handicap pass while wearing long pants.”

Long has fibular hemimelia, a condition that means she wasn’t born with her lower legs. When she was just 13 months old her adoptive parents chose to have part of her legs amputated so she could wear prosthetic legs. Long has since had more than 25 surgeries to help her deal with her condition but this hasn’t stopped her from excelling at swimming.

At age 12 she became the youngest member of the US Paralympic team to win a gold medal when she won three at Athens 2004. She has won more than 30 medals worldwide in her career.

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