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Disabled and Sexual: How the Historical Desexualising of Disabled People Still Impacts Our Sexuality Today

Disabled and Sexual is a new monthly(-ish) column by Hannah Shewan Stevens which will explore all the challenges, comedy, and fun that disabled people experience as sexual beings, even while we are desexualised by a predominantly non-disabled society.

One of the most pervasive myths about disabled people is that we’re either incapable of or disinterested in sex. As a result, society desexualises us because people genuinely believe that no one could possibly find a disabled person sexy. Well, I’m here to tell you that they’re very wrong. 

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Your Platitude Isn’t Helping my Mental Health

Trigger warnings: Suicide. Mental health disbelief. Mention of medication/addiction.

Talking about mental health is important. It’s the first step towards getting help. It helps reduce stigma. It can help you find people who can support your recovery.

But talking to the wrong people can be nothing short of disastrous. People who are dismissive. People who are laissez-faire in the extreme. People who – be they trained professionals, public figures, or strangers on the internet – give awful advice.

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The Social Life of a Disabled 18 Year Old

I don’t have the typical 18 year old lifestyle. I’ve not experienced the ‘average’ teenage years: and I won’t know what it feels like to live a standard life, probably ever.

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Please Stop Killing Us

It’s been an awful past 12 months, I don’t need to tell anyone that. For disabled people it’s not just been the threat of the pandemic that’s been weighing on our minds. Ever since lockdown was announced last year, disabled people were the first to be thrown under the bus and it hasn’t stopped.

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The Wasted Potential of Sightless

Trigger warnings: Violence, Ableism, Suicide 

The subject of disability representation on the silver screen is a conversation that’s been brewing for decades, bubbling in response to contentious releases such as Rain ManMy Left Foot, and Me Before You. Films like Come As You Are and Sia’s Music have brought this conversation to a boiling point, with the disability community demanding “nothing about us without us” in the face of systematic ableism within the wider film industry.

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My realisation that the opposite of self-care is self-harm

TW: Self-harm, mentions of being overweight. 

This summer it got really hot. It was about August and we had a proper heatwave. In our land of stiff upper lips and no air conditioning, I would sit on my bed in my birthday suit and try to be still, to not expend any energy. And I developed a rash.

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Gut Feelings: Being Gay with Familial Adenomatous Polyposis

Love has never come easy to me. Living with chronic illness and the aftermath of three surgeries, I struggle to let people in – to be intimate during sex.

It all started when I was 11. Sitting in a hard-backed, plastic chair, the doctor told me I had familial adenomatous polyposis (or FAP for short). They explained to me that tiny wart-like lumps called polyps (or adenomas) were growing inside my bowel and rectum and if untreated, they would turn cancerous. Fast forward seven years – and the removal of my bowel and the lining of my rectum – I came out to friends and family as gay.

It took me years to figure out what it meant to be gay and to understand how I fit into the world. Burdened by family and medical trauma, I found it difficult to process it.

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How Being Diagnosed as Autistic at 29 Helped me Find my Identity

The standardisation of the human existence in society makes us try to fit into it in a way that we end up cutting pieces of us to do so. 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics attempted to describe the average Australian, which was apparently a woman. However, when they tried to find that woman, they could not. When attempting to find the “normal”, no one is found.

“While the description of the average Australian may sound quite typical, the fact that no-one meets all these criteria shows that the notion of the ‘average’ masks considerable (and growing) diversity in Australia.” Australian Bureau of Statistics

That goes for everything in human existence. It is a spectrum. Just like Autism.

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Virtually Perfect – Disabled Queer Dating in a Remote World

I was diagnosed with Tourettes’ Syndrome when I was 10, though my disorder first manifested many years previously. Over the interceding period I was diagnosed and re-diagnosed and prognosed by anyone and everyone around me.

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Love Shouldn’t be Conditional Because I’m Disabled

TW: emotional abuse, mentions of eugenics and abuse of disabled people

CW: This post may be difficult to read for those who have felt like a burden in relationships.

“Even though it’s really hard that you’re sick, I still love you.”

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