What is your first thought when you think about sex and the disabled?
Society doesn’t often associate the two: sexuality and disability. It is dismissed due to stigmatizing information that has been put out by the media. The settings for the disabled does not include incorporating the accommodation for meeting their sexual need.
By demonstrating their ability and need to express sexuality and desire for an intimate connection; as you would see in mainstream pop culture or emphasize in conversations as most individuals about sex and sexuality were normalized; this would break down the discomfort that comes with addressing the issue instead of regarding the disabled as non-sexual human beings.
According to the WHO (World Health Organization), the definition of sexual health is defined as
“a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination, and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of ALL persons must be respected, protected, and fulfilled.”
As we explore the importance of sexuality with the disabled it is crucial to understand this perception and the world health organization’s definition because it explains the broad spectrum of sexuality without the dismissal of the needs of the disabled.
Throughout my career and reading different books, I have come across many publications that focus on sexually inappropriate behaviors of the disabled and not the need for sexual pleasure and intimacy of the disabled in a safe, secure, and private environment.
As we evolve, it is becoming more evident this topic is important to discuss and needs to be educated on how to give support to those that fit this category. Understanding how to navigate the complexity of sexual expression is crucial to forming a sexual identity for anyone AND especially the disabled.
Exploration and education can give more meaning and understanding on how to support the needs of a loved one or client who is disabled. The sexuality of the disabled, who may require varying degrees of support to lead a healthy, safe, and fulfilling sex life, continues to be dismissed as a factor of their treatment plan and daily care because of the longstanding stigma that envelops disability and sex. (Burr, W. 2011. Sexuality of the disabled often overlooked. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 259-260.)
Sexuality and Disability misperceptions
In other words, the common preconceived notions of the disabled are if they are not able-bodied then it’s unattainable to have a sex life and the support that is given to the disabled is oppressing the sexual need and assisting the client or loved one to accept that it’s impossible and having a sex life doesn’t apply to their functioning due to the limitation of that individual.
Another problem with this is the minimal to no access to education and resources to dispute these notions and guide caregivers, patients, and providers to discover a different perspective on exploring sexuality with their loved ones and patients.
There are many resources that anyone could start researching to gain knowledge regarding the benefits of alternative sexual functioning and assist a person that is disabled. For example, reading material, sex toys, physical aids, support groups online or in-person, dating apps, and even surrogates depending on location due to certain laws in place that prohibits such services as it may be viewed as a form of prostitution.
Below is a list of resources to understand and learn how to incorporate sexual functioning from a different approach with individuals of the disabled. And educate yourself and loved ones on the different possibilities of sexuality with the disabled.
These resources also provide a window to other lists of resources that cover a variety of categories in this subject matter that may not be easy to obtain and may seem daunting. This list easily gives you access to in-depth information that you can tailor to your need for certain information.
Suggestions for more information on Sexuality and Disability aka Sexability
- www.fetlife.com search group discussion (disabled people and those who like disabled people)
- Search support groups online and in person, dating apps and websites dedicated to devotees. ( Devotees are people who are sexually attracted to a disability and/or prefer a partner who is disabled.
- Search Facebook for disabled dating groups
- The Movie “The Session” with Helen Hunt
There is a lot of information to be explored related to the disabled and promoting, advocating, educating, nurturing, and fostering the normalization of their sexuality.
As society starts to embrace the inclusion of the embodiment of sexuality with the disabled, my hope is this population will receive the care and support needed to flourish and embrace a portion of human behavior that everyone has a right to explore, express, and enjoy.
Kiss & Tell Magazine discusses sexual health, as well as many other topics, focused on sex. Support us by becoming a subscriber, subscribers get their voices heard by guiding our content.
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