Imperfectly Moving Towards Acceptance

  • Victoria Burns, PhD National Institute of Scientific Research - Urbanisation, Culture, & Society


My dietician encouraged me to write this article to educate and combat stigma related to diabetes. As a social worker, stigma is not a foreign concept but I tend to couple stigma with other issues, such as mental illness, addiction, or sexual orientation—not diabetes. Stigma is fuelled by the myriad of misguided assumptions, judgments, and general ignorance concerning diabetes. People are still shocked when I tell them I have T1D as they tend to conflate T1D and T2D. Depending on the person, I’m too old, too young, too thin, or too healthy looking to have the disease. The truth of the matter is that stigma is rampant when it comes to diabetes. Stigma keeps people in denial and when it comes to diabetes, denial is a life and death matter.

My hope is that my story helps to demystify some of the assumptions about diabetes—whether it’s T1D or T2D diabetes does not discriminate and can happen to anyone, regardless of lifestyle, health status, or age. People living with diabetes need to feel they have the permission to experience the array of emotions associated with the disease.

Author Biography

Victoria Burns, PhD, National Institute of Scientific Research - Urbanisation, Culture, & Society

Victoria Burns, PhD, has lived with type 1 diabetes since December 2011. She is a gerontological social worker by training and currently works as a post-doctoral researcher at the National Institute of Scientific Research—Urbanization, Culture and Society in Montreal, Quebec (  She has spent the last decade studying older marginalized adults, including those experiencing homelessness.  Her research also focuses on social determinants of health and particularly the role of social support on health and well-being.

She lives in Montreal with her husband Hervé and her dog Pinot.  

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