Britney Spears’ shocking testimony Wednesday should spark outrage. But disabled people, activists and advocates think that the public fury surrounding Spears needs to shift in order to see the larger issue.

“I hate the way non-disabled people gaslight disabled people about Britney Spears’ situation because guardianship and conservatorship is not unique,” Imani Barbarin, a disability rights and inclusion activist, said in a video posted to Twitter Wednesday.

I don’t like the gaslighting that goes on when disabled people tell y’all that what’s happening with #FreeBritney is not at all unique. You just have a hierarchy of disability and a point at which you think someone is “too disabled” to care about.

— Imani Barbarin, MAGC | Crutches&Spice ♿️ (@Imani_Barbarin) June 24, 2021

In her video, Barbarin admitted that Spears’ claims are indeed “horrific, but again, it’s not unique.”

“This is something that disabled people are scared of all the time,” Barbarin emphasized. “Because there are instances in which disabled people will ask the wrong question to the wrong person, and wound up in a conservatorship or guardianship.”

Many disabled people and advocates also spoke out about the topic on Twitter Wednesday:

I’ll say it again:Britney’s conservatorship battle is a disability rights issue.

— Karli Drew ♿️ (@KarLeia) June 23, 2021

the issue isn’t just that adults failed Britney, it’s that the world fails and undervalues disabled people to the extent it has come up w/ conservatorship as a legal framework to strip us of personhood. per @slooterman #FreeBritney

— Kati 🧈♿️🥀 (FUNDRAISER PINNED) (@katimcf) June 23, 2021

Y’all see how y’all are reacting to this? How disgusted you are? Well this is something disabled people have been fighting against for decades. And not all were h see conservatorship. Y’all ignore it bc y’all don’t actually see disabled people as having agency.

— Dr. Openly Excessively Black & Disabled (She/Her) (@4WheelWorkOut) June 23, 2021

I hope people keep the same energy they have for Britney when it comes to self autonomy & rights of Disabled & Mentally ill people🤞🏽

—  (@HijaDe2Madre) June 23, 2021

Britney Spears’ comment about her IUD cuts so deep. There is such a long history of reproductive coercion targeting people deemed ‘unfit’ and doctors routinely recommend IUDs for ‘incompetent' cis women and girls.

— s. e. smith (@sesmith) June 23, 2021

for any of you trying to piece what she said together from various articles, here’s the full transcript. We should discuss this as it is: an extremely high profile version of an extremely common reality for disabled ppl

— Gabriel Ojeda-Sagué (@hadeejasouffle) June 23, 2021

As always, it's important to remember that #FreeBritney is a disability rights issue. If the state can do this to one of the most influential pop stars in my lifetime, think about what it can do to others. Read @slooterman

— Eric Michael Garcia (@EricMGarcia) June 23, 2021

In 1924, in an infamous case called Buck v. Bell, the Supreme Court held that it was lawful to forcibly sterilize disabled people.

— Matthew Cortland, Esq (@mattbc) June 24, 2021

#FreeBritney is a disability rights issue. So many people are stuck under conservatorships. And Britney is just one. I hope this story let’s everyone know that this is happening to so many people.

— Quinn 🦻🏽✨ (@Quinns_quirks) June 24, 2021

Britney Spears’s situation is horrific but all too common among disabled people. If you care about #FreeBritney, then please read up on the carceral ableism that underpins “conservatorship” laws. Her problem is as much structural as it is personal.

— J. Logan Smilges (@jsmilges) June 24, 2021

Brittney being forced to keep an IUD is giving echoes of Buck v. Bell "three generations of imbeciles are enough"Like control over their own reproductive futures is one of many things the legal system denies disabled people (other people too ofc but this is a unique burden)

— Barred and Boujee and Unionized (@AudreLawdAMercy) June 23, 2021

The 39-year-old “Toxic” singer has been locked into a conservatorship since 2008 after she was hospitalized for a psychiatric evaluation. On Wednesday, the pop star spoke before Judge Brenda Penny — who is overseeing her legal arrangement — after asking for the chance to address the court in her own words. In her testimony, Spears alleged that she was forced to work, take lithium and be on birth control, even though she wants to have another child.

Spears ultimately described her situation as “abusive.”

“I truly believe this conservatorship is abusive,” Spears said. “And that we can sit here all day and say, ‘Oh, conservatorships are here to help people.’ But ma’am, there’s a thousand conservatorships that are abusive as well.”

Guardianship and conservatorship actually affect about 1.3 million adults across the country, according to a 2018 report by the National Council on Disability.

And Spears is legally viewed as disabled.

“We don’t know whether Spears identifies herself as disabled,” Zoe Brennan-Krohn, a staff attorney at the ACLU Disability Rights Project, told HuffPost via email in August 2020. “But we know that, by placing her under conservatorship, the court is de facto identifying her as disabled.”

Brennan-Krohn told HuffPost last year that although judges, families and lawyers often view conservatorships as “a benign way to help people with disabilities,” they’re more accurately “systems through which people who have disabilities — or are perceived by a court to have disabilities — lose their civil rights and decision-making capabilities.”

Sara Luterman, a disabled journalist who has written extensively about the subject, tweeted a more optimistic take on the discourse surrounding Spears’ case.

“If Britney Spears makes fighting guardianship/conservatorship in general her thing,” Luterman wrote, “it would be completely game-changing for the disability rights movement.”

God I hope this is real. If Britney Spears makes fighting guardianship/conservatorship in general her thing, it would be completely game-changing for the disability rights movement.

— Sara Luterman (@slooterman) June 23, 2021 Download Calling all HuffPost superfans! Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost’s next chapter Join HuffPost

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