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Why Sex Is the Final Frontier of Disability Rights

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Sex seems to be the final frontier of disability advocacy. In our society, we still have a difficult time viewing people with disabilities through a sexual lens.

As a disabled entrepreneur who runs Claiming Disability, Inc, an organization working to educate, empower, and advocate for people with disabilities, I’m often confronted with questions like “What’s the biggest hurdle for the disabled community to overcome?” My mind always goes to people with disabilities being viewed as sexual and attractive. The reality is, society generally does not view us this way. You never see a disabled woman in a sexy underwear ad or Covergirl lipstick campaign. When the representation in media isn’t there, we tend to make the assumption that it does not exist.

That could not be further from the truth. I know lots of advocates that are working hard to create a culture where people with disabilities are viewed in a sexual context, including Andrew Gurza and Vogue Model Jillian Mercado. These advocates are bursting with sexual energy and they make a statement that disabled bodies are worthy of sexual framing and desire in media.

True equality comes from acknowledging that disabled people are not viewed in this light because our bodies are not conventionally attractive. At times our bodies are viewed in a childlike, infantilizing lens because of the aids we use to live our lives like diapers and medical ports. I know many disabled people on this platform have a dating story where they have been rejected for being disabled. It’s OK, I have too. It hurts, but that doesn’t mean you should internalize it and feel unworthy of love.

We can change that by sharing stories and discussing the importance of this topic in our community. As a disabled person who hasn’t had a lot of sex, I can say that it still needs to be discussed. Sexual empowerment plays into self-love and self-empowerment. Claiming Disability, Inc is all about “claiming your disability,” but if we ignored disability and sex we wouldn’t be doing our job to help you feel empowered.

I’d like to share an organization we have formed a partnership with called Handi. Handi was founded by disability consultant and activist Andrew Gurza and innovation strategist Heather Morrison from a simple and shocking fact: hundreds of millions of people around the world can’t masturbate due to hand limitations (pain, immobility, lack of dexterity, weakness etc.). ​In fact, their research showed that over 50% of physically disabled people surveyed struggle to achieve sexual pleasure on their own. And shockingly, no products have been designed with them in mind, despite over 90% of those surveyed saying they wanted one. ​

You are worthy of love.

You are worthy of being found attractive as a disabled person.

You are worthy of SEX.

Getty image by Nanostockk.

Originally published: October 31, 2020
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