The conversation regarding sex, intimacy, and dating in the disability community needs to change. While disabled sex has shown up in recent TV shows (thank you, Sex Education and The L Word: Generation Q), there's still a long way to go, both on and off screen. "Stereotypes and stigmas are probably the largest obstacles for people with disabilities when it comes to finding and having a healthy love life," clinical psychologist Dr. Sheypuk told POPSUGAR in an email interview. Some people have the misconception that disabled people are unable to have sex or become aroused, or are asexual altogether. This is not true in the slightest.
"Stereotypes and stigmas are probably the largest obstacles for people with disabilities when it comes to finding and having a healthy love life."
Disabled influencer Alex Dacy has opened up about this on social media emphasising the fact that people need to normalize dating disabled people. Because disabled people are not portrayed very often in movies, TV, ads, and more, the concept of a disabled person having an intimate relationship or a relationship at all might even seem unnatural to some. When people think that disabled people are not sexual, this perpetuates untrue social constructs. "Through my work with people with disabilities, I've discovered just how powerful and damageing these misconceptions are and that it's not just people without disabilities that believe them," said Dr. Sheypuk. "This is a significant part of our internalized ableism and we all need to work toward expelling these negative beliefs from our culture as a whole."
"Think about it, we spend our whole lives finding creative solutions to existing in a mostly inaccessible world. Why shouldn't that ingenuity extend to the bedroom?"
Breaking these stereotypes will change the conceptions that both disabled and nondisabled people have. "I believe within the disabled community a strong belief remains that you won't ever find a partner if you're disabled," said disability blogger and advocate Holly Greader. "I blame society and the media for this, for taking so long to represent the disabled community in anything related to intimate relationships and sex." Giving the disability community recognition in the places where non-disabled people receive coverage should be easy, not unheard of.
When it comes to normalizing disabled sex, the conversation is already being had in the disability community. "Some of the most sexually creative people I've met have been disabled," said Ms. Wheelchair Virginia, Ryann Mason. "Think about it: we spend our whole lives finding creative solutions to existing in a mostly inaccessible world. Why shouldn't that ingenuity extend to the bedroom?" From sex and dating to accessibility and representation, dispelling inaccurate misconceptions is one step on road to securing equality for everyone, and every body.