Think of all the ways that the world has tried to define you. Starting in childhood, you’ve likely received messages about who you are, what you can and can’t do, and where your value comes from. In the midst of all these messages, it can feel hard to know which definition actually matters. No stranger to being defined and labeled (by medical doctors and elementary-school bullies alike), Taylor Clay will tell you that the only definition that matters is the one YOU create for yourself.
Taylor can say this with confidence because her life has been a masterclass in learning to reclaim the power of titles – even the ones meant to diminish your light.
Wife, Mom, Sister, Student, and Advocate
Taylor Clay is a wife, mother, sister, student, and advocate. She also has cerebral palsy and was our first openly disabled speaker when she spoke on the That’s What She Said Stage in February of 2022. No stranger to the spotlight, Taylor has often spoken on activism and disability rights. She’s appeared on TV more times than she can count and has been written about on numerous occasions (all the way back to when she was just a baby).
Her visibility stems from her desire to advocate for people with disabilities. With each new chapter in life, Tayor has discovered a vacuum of resources for her situation. As she moved from being an elementary school student with cerebral palsy to a young woman navigating college and relationships, Taylor reckoned with the lack of sources where she could learn from others in her situation.
A powerful example of this is when she became a mother. Taylor found countless Facebook groups and endless Reddit threads with advice and support for new moms. But none of these resources spoke to her struggle as a mother in a wheelchair. She found herself (not for the first time) alone on an island.
Taylor counts herself lucky. Despite life forcing her to navigate uncharted seas, she grew up in Champaign-Urbana where she was able to see herself reflected in the community. She has a loving husband who reminds her to take time for herself and the support of her amazing parents and family.
And yet, Taylor knows that society can still do better. It’s time to normalize moms, dads, and families with disabilities so that others with cerebral palsy (or any disability) stop feeling like they’re stuck on their own unique island.
From Speaker to Accessibility Advisor
Many of the That’s What She Said speakers make us better – both as individual people and as an organization. There is no doubt that Taylor Clay is one such woman.
Following her appearance on the That’s What She Said stage, Taylor has gone on to join the team as the She Said Project Accessibility Advisor. Taylor shares her expertise in disability awareness and inclusivity with the team and is the backbone of our effort to make sure every voice is heard.
Watch Taylor Clay’s full performance on the She Said Project Stage. Or, to view upcoming That’s What She Said shows, take a peek at our schedule of upcoming events.