As an X-Men character and member of the Summers family Cable has an extensive and convoluted story so I’m only going to cover a small glimpse of his childhood to look at his disability and disability narrative.
Mutants are considered a marginalized race in the Marvel universe and mutation is used as a metaphor for disability; Cable is one of the many mutant characters who are also shown to have real-world disabilities. As a baby he was infected with a “techno-organic virus” by Apocalypse resulting in his iconic appearance. The techno-organic virus is functionally a terminal disease in which cells cannot duplicate or regenerate and even within the superhero world Cable was born into there is no cure. His father, Cyclops, allows him to be taken to the future where there is available treatment in exchange for never seeing his son again.
Cyclops questions whether or not this is the right decision, specifically wondering if Cable would be better off dead. He questions Cable’s quality of life.
As Cable grows into a teenager he struggles with non-passing privilege and the need to hide his disfigurement and assistive equipment to assimilate and remain safe.
Aside from suffering culturally and socially Cable deals with tangible disability and chronic pain. He has to manage these things in order to live and his motivation to do so tends to be based on his obligation to others.
The character Cable deals with disability so directly that his mutation never quite becomes a metaphor. Like all disabled children, his family struggles with what to sacrifice for his medical care, ceding control of his care to those who can offer assistance, making long-term decisions in his stead, and whether or not having a life unlike those they are familiar with means he should have one at all.
As an adolescent, Cable has to live with the decisions his family made for him and struggles with being raised by various people whose only concern is what he is able to do. He is visibly different which puts him in danger in a way that is unfamiliar to most people and hiding his differences takes a physical and emotional toll. Cable has no role models that look like him and has experienced what he has, he has to develop based on a template of humanity that is fundamentally different from his natural state.
I haven’t contributed anything to society.
I was born with a neuromuscular disease which makes my muscles and bones weaken until I prematurely die.
I’ve always been a temporary fixture in my family’s lives, a genetic embarrassment, a social burden. A week before I turned 13, my father, a decorated Vietnam vet, was murdered by a drunk driver who only received community service. My mother developed aggressive early onset dementia as I got out of school and now I am her caretaker and sole provider but the only thing I can provide is a cut of $850 I receive each month from disability.
I was put in special ed although I took all the same classes as my nondisabled peers who consistently received things like detention or passed with Ds and Cs on their report cards. I was an honors student K–12 because I had to be; if I didn’t it would be evidence that because I had to sit in a chair with wheels I was underperforming and would be a bad influence on the normal children. I was never at risk for detention not because of my good behavior, but because my consequences were to lose the privilege of a standardized public education. Not complaining was a lot harder than studying because (and in spite of) my being a special ed student required attendance from me in the segregated facility, away from my classes. The short bus dropping me off at school and back at home hours late each day because of understaffing.
As hard as it was, I managed it, but I couldn’t do the same in college and I had to drop out. $850 a month couldn’t cover transportation, food, assistance, etc. even though a scholarship could provide textbooks.
I’ve written my own books; books on science and spirituality as well as an array of fiction. Books that were well received and still sell consistently, but I’ve never received a cent from them and can’t hold my own copyrights. As my health degenerates I am more and more dependent on the healthcare I received through disability so I’ve had to forfeit the rights and earnings of everything I’ve created because as time goes on I can create less and less but if I get taken off of disability I can’t get back on. On paper it looks fraudulent that someone who is supposedly as terminally ill as I am can somehow go off of disability and support myself for a limited amount of time.
I can’t be a true friend, neighbor, or citizen. I can’t leave my house; I can’t afford the bus fare for the handicap bus. I can’t show my face in public; two years ago which bashed out my front teeth but my health care can’t provide treatment. I can’t connect to people; the worse things become in America the more I am blamed for being nothing more than a leech, a useless eater.
I am the problem.
My life is a burden to the entire country.