Local

Atlanta Real-Life Superhero Fights For Disability Rights

Betsy Goodrich poses with Stan Lee at Dragon Con. Goodrich is real-life superhero Danger Woman, the songbird of justice.
Betsy Goodrich poses with Stan Lee at Dragon Con. Goodrich is real-life superhero Danger Woman, the songbird of justice.
Credit Courtesy of Betsy Goodrich

 

Superheroes don’t just lurk between comic book pages. One walks the streets of Atlanta, fighting for the everyday citizen. She’s Danger Woman, the songbird of justice.

The superheroine wears a blue and silver battle suit, emblazoned with an eight-pointed star.  She also has a cape, gloves and a mask, of course.  She delivers messages of empowerment and empathy to those in trouble and battles those who hurt others.

Danger Woman, actually Atlanta-born Betsy Goodrich, started doing karaoke around Atlanta 23 years ago. She’ll be singing as part of the Afton Showcase at Vinyl at Center Stage on Saturday, Dec. 26 at 6 p.m.

Goodrich, who has a high-functioning form of autism, interviews as Danger Woman because the superheroine gives her a voice she didn’t have before. She described what autism feel like: “Autism means you are trapped in your own world, and you can’t get out. You feel like you are in a bubble and you are always a lone wolf.”

She used to live in the Morningside neighborhood with her mother and brother, who has autism and schizophrenia. After their mother died in 2003, however, Goodrich and her brother moved to a nursing home. There, she struggled with the lack of independence. Under her mother’s care, she had been able to move around Atlanta free as a songbird.

Now, Goodrich said she is better situated. In 2009, she moved to Lilburn, where she and her brother live independently. They receive assistance from St. Mary’s Independent Living Extensions, an organization that helps people with disabilities live on their own.

As Danger Woman, Goodrich still attends plenty of events around Atlanta every year. Earlier this month, she attended the annual luncheon for special citizens of Atlanta. She held her arms in front of her and soared from guest to guest.

“I tell my disabled brethren to stand up for what they believe in and fight for their right to be free,” she said at the event before being interrupted by one of her fans.

Indeed, Danger Woman has a bit of a cult following. She is one of the original members of the Dragon Alliance of Gamers and Role-Players, which is the group that created Dragon Con.

One of her fans she met at Dragon Con made a documentary about her. The film, called “Disabled But Able To Rock,” follows about 10 difficult years of her life from before her mother’s death to the move into the nursing home.

Danger Woman fits into a mythology of real-life superheroes. They exist all over the world. Some of her masked comrades include Tothian, a superhero who fights evil in New Jersey, and Master Legend, a Floridian hero who was at the center of a Rolling Stone article on real-life superheroes in 2008. She has also collaborated multiple times with the superhero rock band, the Aquabats.

Though she lives in Lilburn, Goodrich is able to communicate with her fans on the Internet. On her Facebook page, she shares her music, which she makes by singing into her computer over karaoke tracks. She also uses Facebook to advocate for disability sensitivity.

“I speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, the disabled, and especially the disabled prisoners of conscience, who’ve been locked up unjustly without a fair trial or hearing and have been denied the right to go to school or have been given a substandard special education,” Goodrich said. “Their only crime was of genetic innocence, born with a disability.”