TW: This article contains mentions of child and adult sexual abuse and assault as well as medical ableism and neglect, please take care when reading.
Disabled and Sexual is a column by Hannah Shewan Stevens which explores all the challenges, comedy, and fun that disabled people experience as sexual beings, even while we are desexualised by a predominantly non-disabled society.
With the ominous chime of cheap plastic curtain rings, the doctor separates us from my mum. After placing me on the bed, she examines my vulva and conducts what I later learned was a hymen check.
Frozen in place, I submitted to her ministrations and silenced the protests trying to escape my head. “Just do what you’re told,” I thought. “Be a good patient and then you can go home.” I was eight years old.
Medical professionals have long held a monopoly over my body. From being poked and prodded to quizzed and demeaned, they have dictated how my body is treated, how its symptoms are managed and how much information I receive about my diagnoses.