Disabled people have sex:
Over the years, the disabled community has been ostracized from conversations and settings centred around sex and sexuality, this is due to the assumption of disabled people as asexual (meaning that they don't have sexual desires). However, this is not always the case, disabled people can have sex and do have desires to take part in sexual activities.
Knowledge of disabled people as sexual beings is lacking in the media and therefore, leaves this issue overlooked and ignored, for example, disabled people do not receive as much sex education as their nondisabled counterparts as a result of presuming that they may not understand the content, or they may not need as much information as others. Thankfully, with the ongoing popularity of social media platforms such as, TikTok and Instagram, disabled sex lives are being shared and acknowledged across the globe.
Disabled people can have children:
A lot of the taboo that surrounds disabled people having sex is the notion that they can't reproduce. In fact, this is quite the opposite as there are around 1.7 million disabled parents in the UK.
Impacts of societal views:
Disabled people as asexual is a harmful stereotype which can have damaging effects on a person's self-esteem and self-image. Society has a created a model of 'sexually attractive' in which people need to fit, otherwise they will be overlooked and viewed as undesirable (whether they have a disability or not). This can lead to disabled people having an internal belief that they are not considered a sexual being, thus, impacting their confidence and overall self-concept.
"The World Health Organization says sexuality is a basic need and aspect of being human that cannot be separated from other aspects of life."
Many aids and information on sex is focused on fertility and not on the natural desires of people which can create a misunderstanding of what sex is for. This then segregates the disabled community from sexual knowledge and safety. Therefore, disabled people are at a higher risk of STIs as they are not always given a thorough education of sex due to the concept that they may not understand what's being taught. Luckily, charities are aware that disabled people are left with an incomplete knowledge of most sexual topics and are providing new ways to try and accessibly educate those with disabilities and provide teachers with aids to help deliver adequate sex education for all.
The disabled community is a vulnerable group in society who can unknowingly be targeted by sexual predators.
"In the year ending March 2018, 3.7% of disabled adults aged 16 to 59 years experienced any sexual assault (including attempts), compared with 1.9% of non-disabled adults."
Grooming and sexual abuse is not always something that victims are aware is taking place, even in non-disabled citizens. Cases like these are even more complex within the disabled community as most are very trusting in individuals, therefore, making them at a higher risk of harm. This is why it is vital that they are given information on boundaries and consent in order to keep them as protected as possible from potential abuse.
Support offered for disabled citizens:
With the idea of disabled sex being put back into our society, more is being done to help support educators and disabled citizens, including:
Charities & Websites:
Charities like Scope and Mencap provide advice and information about sex that both carers and disabled people can read in order to learn more about sex and sexual health. Some also feature stories of people talking about their experiences with sex and sexuality, that others can relate to. Sexualityanddisability.org is an incredibly helpful website which is focused on answering any questions disabled women may have about their body, sex, parenthood and so on. Scope also has an online community where disabled people and carers can discuss their views on anything from accessibility to challenges they may be facing.
This is a type of therapy whereby a paid individual is hired to help those that struggle with sexual dysfunction and problems with sexual intimacy. This allows disabled people to gain an array of knowledge of sexual desires and genital stimulation. An example of this is Hand Angels, a charity in Taiwan, that provides free sexual services to help disabled people masturbate.
This service enables disabled people to get support from healthcare professionals. This wide range of support can include undressing a patient for them to carry out sexual acts to giving out individualised advice on certain issues.
Accessible Sex Toys:
Enhance the UK and Rocks Off have partnered together to create Quest - an accessible sex toy line for those with disabilities. For some disabled people, having sex toys is a way of exploring their sexuality without necessarily having to discuss it. This can then enable them to feel empowered while also understanding their desires.