Sexuality and Disability


sadwttpWhile ideas around disability have significantly changed due to the shift from the medical to the social model, disabled people are too often viewed as non-sexual beings, and rarely seen as objects of desire outside of the fetish community in which the disability is the object of desire rather than the person per se. Most representations of disability construct disability as either monstrous (as in horror cinema) or sympathetic (as in social issue cinema and documentaries), in both cases disability is rendered as abnormal and disabled people incapable of ‘normal’ sexual relationships. Yet for all of us, at some stage in our lives, disability will become our issue rather than someone else’s issue whether this is through accident, chronic illness or the vagaries of the aging process.

The aim of this project is to challenge popular perceptions and discourses around disability and sexuality by encouraging inter-disciplinary research and the formation of networks and exchange of knowledge across academic, personal, institutional, medical and social narratives and across countries and cultures.


The project will explore and assess a number of key themes: these are indicative of the interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary scope of the project, and as part of the project’s evolution, related themes will also be identified for development and exploration.

  1. Gender and disability
  2. Desire and disability
  3. Fetishization of disability
  4. Disability, sexuality and the politics of disgust
  5. Disability as multiplicity rather than singular
  6. Desexualisation of disabled people
  7. Sexualities of disability, including queer, trans, and other non-normative sexualities
  8. Ageing and sexuality

It is anticipated that a series of associated research projects, publications, journals and short courses will develop out of our deliberations.