Disabled people are often wrongly assumed not to have sexuality or interest in sex! Here are 6 things you need to know about being disabled and LGBTQ…
Disabled people are often desexualized by others, and expressing sexuality or gender outside the ‘heteronormative’ framework becomes quite a statement – not only do you have desires, but they’re different from those of the people around you. In practice, there’s no contradiction between being disabled and being LGBTQ, and there are lots of us out there. Here are five things for you to know:
People often assume that just because we’re disabled, we don’t have any sexuality or any interest in sex whatsoever. It’s a form of infantilizing us – treating us like children – in which we’re not understood to be the teenagers and adults we are. Even when people accept that we might want to date, the assumption is that we’d be straight. There are lots of disabled lesbian, gay, bi and queer (LGBQ) people out there, and we find partners and love the same way everyone else does.
When, or if, you decide to ‘come out’ and tell the people in your life that you’re LGBTQ, remember that you’re not responsible for how they react. Family members sometimes want to grieve for the future that they’d assumed you’d have, but you’re not responsible for their future dreams or their feelings. The only thing you can do is focus on making yourself happy.
Finding out what you desire can be difficult – and this is made a lot harder if you were brought up with the people around you assume that you didn’t have any desires! Remember that there’s no rush. Taking the time to know yourself is worthwhile, and will help you establish happy relationships in the future.
If you’ve found a label that describes you and helps you communicate yourself to other people, then that’s brilliant – but if that label no longer fits, don’t feel trapped in it. Labels work as a kind of social shorthand, but they shouldn’t become a prison. If one set of words doesn’t fit, you’ll find others that do.
There are lots of disabled trans people out there. If you think you might be trans and want to discuss it with someone, talk to your GP, and, if you so desire, ask for a referral to a counselor and/or a Gender Identity Clinic. While some aspects of transition might be harder (I couldn’t complete the surgeries I wanted because anesthetic became too risky), being disabled shouldn’t stop you from exploring this part of your identity, and finding language and gender that fits you.