Personal Stories of Stigma: I'm an Amputee
An accident made stigma a part of Michael Lichter's daily life.
Michael Lichter lives in Brooklyn, bikes 14 miles home from work every day and has gone skydiving. He’s also an amputee.
Seven years ago, Lichter lost his left leg in a car accident and now wears a prosthetic.
Lichter says people on the bus sometimes stare. But, he uses those moments as an opportunity to answer any questions they might have.
"A lot of people don't come in contact with amputees or people with illness in general, until it happens to them," he says, "I didn't know an amputee before I became one. Would I have stared or anything like that back in the day? Probably."
One night, Licther was at a bar wearing long pants and met a girl. She didn't know about the prosthetic and when she found out, Lichter says she lashed out and called him a liar.
"There was nothing malicious on my part at all. When she was coming back with me to my house, should I have said, 'I'm an amputee, do you have a problem with that?' I don't think so. I don't think that should've made any difference. I'm still the same person, I'm just missing a limb."
Lichter now works for Prosthetics in Moition, a company in Midtown Manhattan that fits people with prosthetic limbs. He offers moral support to new amputees and says it's important for them to know they're not alone.