A man whose wife has a disability has revealed the most absurd questions people continually ask him — including if he “has a thing” for people in wheelchairs.
Complete strangers insist on asking John and Jade Reynolds prying questions — both online and in real life — about the most intimate details of their relationship.
Jade, 32, was diagnosed with acute transverse myelitis of her spinal cord when she was 12 years old.
Acute transverse myelitis is a “very rare condition,” and Jade was told she “had more chance of winning the lottery than getting this.”
Meanwhile, the happily married young wife from Preston, Lancashire, in England said she is regularly asked about whether she can have kids — even though she is a mother of two. She also admitted a stranger once asked to touch her leg to see if she could feel it.
John, 33, listed the common questions he is asked about his wife in a video on TikTok, including whether they have sex and whether she can be a good mom. The now-viral clip has racked up 4.7 million views as of Monday afternoon.
The couple followed up with another TikTok with Jade’s version of what she’s asked as a wheelchair user.
Examples included: “Can I have a go in your chair?,” “You’re to[o] pretty to be in a wheelchair,” and “Can you have kids?” The follow-up TikTok now has 374,000 views.
“On the video about questions I get asked, the vast majority of people were like ‘Oh my gosh, that’s outrageous,’ but there are probably 1 or 2% who still wanted to know the answers,” John, a youth pastor, told Kennedy News.
He said he intended for the viral videos to be lighthearted and to shed light on questions inter-abled couples receive regularly.
“A lot of people still feel entitled to know the answers to these questions,” he said. “The concern is that some of the questions can be a bit perversive and fetishize us. It’s strange — it’s like, Why would you ask that? Why would you ask questions about our sex lives?”
John pointed out that the questions highlighted in the videos were just the most “outrageous” ones they get asked.
“I think people are just intrigued by anything that’s different,” he added. “It’s not so much that we’re offended, but if we were both able-bodied, we wouldn’t get asked that.”
“If they’re asking if a person in a wheelchair can be a good mom, they obviously don’t know a lot of people in wheelchairs,” John said. “You just feel a little sorry for people who ask those questions.”
John joked that the videos are “a bit of an eye roll and to be taken with a pinch of salt.”
However, the questions people ask Jade sometimes turn into awkward personal encounters.
“I’ve met people and within the first two minutes of meeting them, they’ve wanted to know everything about my disability,” she said. “I think most disabled people can relate to that.”
Jade clarified that she doesn’t mind talking about her disability, but people who don’t have a close relationship with her tend to ask “very invasive” questions.
“If I’m having a bad day, these questions can get me quite frustrated. If I’m having a good day, I can just laugh it off,” she said.
Jade, who has been a wheelchair user for 20 years, has gotten better at drawing boundaries with people as she’s gotten older.
“I met somebody at a community event who was quite intrigued by my situation and said for me to close my eyes for a second,” she shared. “He couldn’t understand how I couldn’t feel my legs and wanted to test it. I said ‘I don’t know you, I’m not going to close my eyes and let you touch my legs. That’s a little inappropriate.’ ”
Jade admitted she believes a lot of questions stem from ignorance “rather than malice” because there isn’t a lot of representation of disabled people in society.
“So when people come across disabled people, they’ve got loads of questions and they sometimes don’t think about how some of those questions can be hurtful.”
She acknowledged that sometimes people project their insecurities onto her, especially when it comes to her relationship.
People will say to her, “If I was in a wheelchair, I’d be worried that my partner would leave me.”
But Jade never thinks that.
“I do know of other wheelchair users who have been asked, ‘Are you worried your partner will leave you?’ Thankfully, I haven’t been asked that,” she said.
“But there is this warped view of inter-abled relationships where it’s seen that John is almost doing me a favor,” Jade admitted.
She also finds that people project their fears or their insecurities onto her.
“That can be quite frustrating, [when strangers say,] ‘If I was you, I don’t think I’d want to live.’ It’s very shocking, but I don’t think the people who say that realize how bad it sounds.”
“I’m enjoying my life and I don’t need people to put that on me,” she added.
The couple hopes to raise awareness about being an inter-abled couple through their podcast and online platforms.
“Sometimes you do get bored of answering the same questions from different people,” John said. “One of the things we do is address these questions on our faith-based podcast ‘Bring To Light.’ ”
They shared Jade’s story on their podcast and talked about how faith helped her cope, and they encourage people to check out her story on the podcast if they want to know more.
The couple also mentioned the types of comments they get online versus in real life.
“People normally have too much pride to ask these sorts of questions in person as they can pick up on social cues and see it’s not appropriate. I think people are more likely to do it if they can hide behind a screen,” John shared.
“It’s probably easier for us to ignore those sorts of questions online as we can just delete the comments,” he added.
John and Jade, who met in college and have been married for six years, say they’re forgiving of people’s questions and find it easy to give people the benefit of the doubt due to their Christian faith.
“We’re Christians, so we forgive people who make ignorant comments. We believe all people are made in the image of God and are loved by God,” John said. “We give people the benefit of the doubt and forgive, because we all make mistakes.”
John believes their faith helps them to speak to people about disabilities.
“Everybody knows deep down that disability doesn’t reduce your worth as a human being,” he said.