Sexuality and Disabilities

We are all sexual people, regardless of our age, orientation, gender, or abilities. Sexuality is about our thoughts and feelings, values and beliefs, gender and sexual identities, bodies and biology, and our relationships.

Sexuality is also about the barriers that society's beliefs about sexuality create for people with disabilities. In fact, these barriers may be more disabling than the disability itself. One of the biggest barriers for people with disabilities is the social misunderstanding that people with disabilities are asexual.   

Much of what we know about sexuality is rooted in a medical view where the ability to 'perform' was the main determining factor for having a sex life.  Today we look at sexuality and disability from a more social perspective.  A person's sexual development includes many factors - the basic needs of being liked and accepted, giving/receiving affection, feeling valued, and sharing thoughts and feelings. 

Society still has a very limited perspective on what it means to be sexual.  Sex = intercourse, specifically penis/vagina intercourse. This belief can be a limitation on everyone's potential for sexual fulfillment.  Being sexual is not just about physical performance, but also about emotional closeness and pleasure. Some people with disabilities have found a freedom in sexual expression that is no longer tied to being able to have penetrative sex. They have figured out how to define sexuality on their own terms.  However, there can be many challenges and barriers to face before reaching that level of self-knowledge.