Why does sexuality and disability matter in the rehab space?

03/11/2022 3 Comments

Andrew Gurza Profile Image

Hello dear reader, and welcome to our first blog in the series, Caring About Sex and Disability

My name is Andrew Gurza, and I am an award-winning Disability Awareness Consultant who lives with Cerebral Palsy and uses a power wheelchair. 

I am so excited to work on this blog with you and bring you consistent sexuality and disability content every single month.  Thank you!

For our first blog, I want to explore a really important question, and one that is at the heart of what the team at CARE REHAB do: Why does sexuality and disability matter in the rehab space?   

When we talk about disability in rehabilitation, it seems that even in 2022, we are stuck in the belief that we cannot talk about sexuality or disability.  These things cannot go together – they are taboo!  I cannot tell you the number of times professionals and clients in the rehab space have approached me who have said, “I want to talk about sex and disability, but I’m scared that I will be crossing the line”.  This happens all the time, and as a result, disabled clients’ questions and queries about their sexuality go unaddressed and entirely unconsidered. 

In my opinion, this is a disservice to people in rehabilitation centres, because rehabilitation may make them more functional, but by not addressing sexuality and disability at all, we are not seeing them as a whole person.  So, I have to wonder, are we helping them 100%? 

Let’s take a deeper look into 3 reasons why sex and disability is critical to talk about in the rehabilitation space. 

1. Take Sex and Disability into the Light 

When we start talking about sex and disability in the rehabilitation space, all of a sudden that fear that both the service provider and the client dissipates.  For too long, sex and disability have been in the shadows, and by talking about it as a part of rehabilitation services, we give it new life and a new light.  

By talking about sex and disability with clients, you help them to see this is something that they are allowed to talk about with you; it gives them the confidence to share what their true needs are, and it can help you build a more comprehensive, compassionate rehabilitation plan for them that dares to see them as a sexual being. 

How awesome is that?!

2. Dismantle Sexual Ableism

Another reason why we need to talk about sex and disability in the rehabilitation space has less to do with sex and more to do with breaking down stigma.  If we talk about sex and disability openly, without shame, we begin to unearth our own biases and prejudices that we didn’t even know we had. 

For example, when I was younger I made the declaration that I would NEVER sleep with another disabled person, because they couldn’t lift me in and out of bed.  How ableist, right?  Well, the more we talk about sex and disability, the more this sexual ableism will bubble to the surface – and that’s a good thing.   Because then we can talk about the sexual ableism together and explore how it impacts the client’s sexual image of themselves, but also, it is equally important to examine how sexual ableism plays a role in the rehabilitation space.  What mythologies around sex and disability are passed down from professional to professional. 

By examining sexual ableism from an institutional level; recognising and naming it, we can create rehab practices that strive to be sex-positive and anti-ableist.  Pretty cool, right?  I think so! 

3. All of Us Will Be Disabled 

One of the most important reasons why we need to talk about sex & disability in the rehab space (or any space for that matter), is that all of us will be disabled ourselves one day.  I know, it can seem like a somewhat unthinkable thing to consider, but the truth is that any of us can become disabled – just like that.   And, when you become the second sexiest disabled person out there (sorry, the first is me, of course), you’re going to want to know you can still have mind-blowing blowjobs, or whatever tickles you! 

By talking about sex and disability in terms of our own experience, it may take some of the fear around sex and disability away, and that’s important. 

You deserve pleasure, even when it’s your turn to be deliciously disabled – so bring it up NOW! 

I hope these tips got you CARING about sex and disability.  Thanks for reading, and stay here for another Caring About Sex and Disability with me, Andrew Gurza, next month.  

I care about you!

AG xx 

3 thoughts on “Why does sexuality and disability matter in the rehab space?”

  1. Excellent introduction Andrew! What does a client do if they can use a special sex aid but don’t have the manual dexterity to clean it properly? And Carers refuse to clean it.

    1. Hi Liz! Great query. I think you’d want to have a larger conversation about why the carers don’t want to clean it, with the carer themselves. Uncover what their biases are, and explain to them that it is a part of care. Not an easy convo by any means, but definitely necessary.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *