Undressing Disability: Emily Yates at TEDxYouth@StPeterPort (Transcript)

Good evening, everyone. Thank you very much for having me.

I want you to think of the word “disability”. What springs to mind? Is it limitation? Is it challenge? I can almost guarantee that the word “can’t” will be in the sentence that you’ve conjured up. What I hope to do today is change perceptions. I’d like the words “can” and “opportunity” to be there when you think of disability. But I also want to talk about what some consider a very uncomfortable, but also empowering, subject.

The subject of disability, sex and relationships. But I’d like my friends at Enhance the UK to introduce it for you.

(Video clip) [Sophie’s story] Until I got MS at 27 years old, I had a very active life. At school I had regular boyfriends, and at sixteen, I happily lost my virginity. I then did A levels at college and met a chap in a club and travelled around Australia with him.

It was a very physical time. We climbed Ayers Rock and completed a diving course. We split when we got home to England, as I wanted to be single when I started university. I had a few short-term relationships and then met a doctor whilst I was working as a physio. I moved in with him.

The relationship broke down when I was diagnosed with MS. My life changed drastically. This is Sophie’s life. These are Sophie’s words, but she’s borrowing my voice.

[Through an eye gaze board, Sophie asked her sister Paula to voice her thoughts]

I’ve always had a good sex drive. When I was working, it was easy to meet people with similar interests. I’ve found it increasingly frustrating. I want friends, relationships and sex. But I can’t wear and walk in clothes that are sexy.

I can’t get into the positions I want to. I worry about getting my clothes off, I’m concerned about problems with my bladder. I want others to know that just because I’m limited physically. I still am a sexual being. I wanted to voice my frustration.

ALSO READ:   Being Human in a Digital Age: Joel Comm at TEDxMileHigh (Full Transcript)

[Sophie didn’t give up on her sex life, but felt that those around her had]

Sophie’s saying: “Well, I’ve had one night stands before, so why can’t I have it now?” And she’s got a damn good point. Sophie wanted to explore and meet people. The carers didn’t want to get involved, they didn’t want to text. I didn’t know whom to talk to about it. Both Sophie and I are very, very open, but it’s a topic that people just don’t want to talk about.

[Discussing sex and disability is often seen as a taboo]

When someone becomes disabled, whether it be through an injury or they’ve become ill, addressing someone’s sexual needs very rarely happens, if ever.

[Enhance the UK is working to change this]

Enhance the UK is a user-led disability charity, and we aim to take away the fear factor around disability and support disabled people in having an active social and sex life. Enhance the UK were great, they’re very open and just made the whole subject normal, which it is.

There are lots of people out there that do need support, and, actually, not only disabled people themselves, family members of those disabled people, loved ones of those disabled people, they need some support too sometimes. And we’re that platform.

Mainstream society thinks that people with disabilities don’t, won’t and can’t have sex, and I think we’re here to prove that’s just not true, that one thing that they might have is just a few more questions about how they go about doing that, and also doing things such as online dating, disclosing their disability, having the confidence to get out there and grab a relationship.

We created The Love Lounge with Mik and Emily, who were two disabled people themselves, and we call them the non-expert sexperts. But they are two people who are open and they want to talk, and if they don’t know the answer, or they don’t think they can give advice, they will research, and they will look for advice that we can then feed back to the people who are writing in to us.

ALSO READ:   Shah Rukh Khan: Thoughts on Humanity, Fame and Love at TED Talk Conference (Transcript)

Sex is something that we all want, we all should enjoy, and we all have a right to enjoy. And The Love Lounge, that’s our ethos. Everyone should be able to have sex, and we advise people how they can do that.

[Enhance the UK is campaigning for wider and better sexual education in the UK]

Brook is really supportive of the Undressing Disability campaign and everything it stands for. Disabled women are twice as likely as able-bodied women to experience intimate, domestic and sexual violence. So it’s really, really important that young disabled people have access to good quality sex and relationships education that meets their needs.

[With better education and support, sex doesn’t have to be an uncomfortable subject]

There is advice out there, and it doesn’t matter how severe your disability is, there is a way that you can be sexual. It may not be penetrative sex, but it is a way to be sensual and sexual, and that exists for absolutely everybody.

Pages: First |1 | 2 | 3 | Next → | Last | Single Page View

Scroll to Top