Disabled People are being Excluded from Conversations about Sexuality

This post is originally on metro.co.uk written by Natalie Morris

It’s Sexual Health Week but disabled people are still being left out of vital conversations – according to two disabled YouTubers. The Triple Cripples consist of Olajumoke ‘Jay’ Abdullahi and Kym Oliver, and they have given themselves their eyebrow-raising name to shine a light on the fact that as black, disabled women they are fighting three layers of oppression. The pair are keen to open up the conversation about sexual health to include disabled people and say that it is not only discriminatory but also dangerous to continue to ignore disabled sexuality. ‘Sex and disability are two topics that are still regarded as separate from one another, because of the humanity that society denies disabled people,’ they explain. ‘We are not considered as complex and whole human beings. As such, how can we be expected to desire or even engage in something like sex?’

Jay and Kym say that there is a presumption that disabled people wouldn’t need sexual health services or access to contraceptives, family planning or pregnancy classes – but it is a damaging myth that people with disabilities don’t have sex. ‘These dangerous ideas are pervasive,’ they explain. ‘It is both disingenuous and dangerous to assert (implicitly or explicitly) that sexuality and disability are mutually exclusive. ‘We can experience a presumption of a lack of sexual urges or desires, exclusion from sex education, denial of access to contraceptives, and even forced sterilisation. ‘At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, living at the intersections of disability and gender as a disabled woman means that everyone that is not us presumes so much. And these presumptions even come from those that you would expect to know (and do) better, such as healthcare professionals. ‘The inclusion of disabled people and disabled women in these areas is desperately needed.’ In order to change the conversation around disability and sexuality, The Triple Cripples have teamed up with SH:24 – and NHS-backed organisation that provides free sexual health home testing kits. Their collaboration included an Instagram takeover and a series of videos discussing what it’s like navigating the interpersonal and the sexual as disabled women. The first video shows the pair unboxing their free sexual health kits and having a very frank and funny discussion about them.

‘The most annoying, yet long-lasting preconception has to be that disabled people do not have sex,’ the pair explain. ‘Even though there is an entire industry dedicated to making sexual encounters more accessible for those that need it. ‘Disabled people do have sex. Just because they’re not having it with you, does not mean that it isn’t happening.’ Another issue that Jay and Kym want to tackle is the taboo associated with being attracted to a disabled person – which is only intensified by being a black woman. ‘The infantilisation of disabled people, means that we are not shown or thought of as being potential love interests, or as people that could get someone sexually excited,’ they explain. ‘Black women are hypersexualised, while disabled people are desexualised and stripped of our humanity. Figuring out where disabled Black women fit into this is complicated and at times tiring. ‘There’s only so much of your day you can dedicate to trying to get people to see your humanity, which includes sex.’ Jay and Kym think that at home sexual health testing kits could make a real difference for disabled people who struggle with the lack of accessibility of sexual health resources. ‘One of the issues that some visibly disabled people have is dealing with other people’s opinions,’ they say. ‘Going to a sexual health clinic carries with it the idea that those who are there are there because they are having sex.

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2019/09/18/disabled-people-excluded-conversations-sexuality-10765439/?ito=cbshare

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