Love, Sex and SCI: LGBT Edition
Love is in the air once again - and this time, it’s flying the pride flag. Love can be painful and challenging; but ultimately, love is beautiful. The feeling is exactly the same, no matter who experiences it. It’s the most universal, inclusive and wonderful thing in the world - so let’s celebrate it. This is Sex, Love and SCI: LGBT Edition.
Dating When You’re Gay and Disabled
Dating. It can be a bit of a minefield, even with apps like Tinder and Grindr making things a little more accessible. The stigma around disability still isn’t gone - and in some parts of the world, it’s still illegal to be anything other than straight.
Finding a partner in modern times is a challenge. When you’re disabled and LGBT, your challenges are compounded - because although gay culture and disability are now more proudly in the public eye, they’re both still minority groups.
But you’re not alone - there are huge communities of gay, lesbian, bi, trans, poly, intersex, pansexual, asexual and queer people, with and without disabilities, all moving toward the same cause: inclusivity.
Our advice? Join in. Find groups on Facebook and see what happens. There’s no guarantee you’ll find love, but you’ll certainly be one move closer to true companionship.
And of course, it all depends on where you are on your own personal journey. Are you out? Are you still exploring your sexuality? Are you in rehab or still recovering? Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Focus on you and your health (physical and mental) first.
Coming Out Transgender, Getting Injured - and Coming Out Again
Coming out is hard. Explaining how you feel and who you are, when you're still trying to figure all of that out for yourself, is huge. But thankfully, more people are feeling empowered to do it, to start living truthfully and freely.
As Trevor Flynn found out, sustaining a spinal cord injury after coming out, transitioning and living in his self-identified gender can mean coming out all over again. Trevor had moved on from his life as a female - but one day woke from a routine surgery to find he had been paralysed by a spinal cord injury.
When doctors started talking about examining him, Trevor was compelled to come out all over again. Despite his fears, the medical team didn’t make a big deal of it and never mixed up pronouns - but it still weighed on his mind.
With SCI, Trevor experienced body dysphoria in a new way, having lost control of his mobility, bladder and bowel, retreated back into the closet. When he introduced himself to SCI groups, he found himself instantly accepted, and grew into his life with SCI; playing basketball gave him new confidence and abilities. He realised that prior to his injury, he never really accepted himself as trans - but now, he’s ready to share who he is, with a community that accepts him exactly how he is.
Trevor’s story isn’t the only one; in fact, he was inspired to tell his by Taylor Straw, another person with SCI who came out as trans. We hope they’re the first of many.
“Can I Have Sex After Spinal Cord Injury?”
Yes! If you were a sexual person before, you’ll still be a sexual person after injury. Sex will change, of course, but it can be just as adventurous, intimate and mind-blowing as it’s always been.
Don’t expect it to happen overnight - it’ll take some time to achieve pleasure from sex again. Injury level, recovery priorities and mental wellbeing can affect your progress. For closeted people and in particular trans people, mental wellbeing can be a long way down the road, so take your time. There’s no rush, your goals will still be there when you’re ready.
Sex isn’t the same for everyone. It doesn’t have to be penetrative or earth-shattering; it can be gentle and intimate, varied and exciting - but it doesn’t have to be anything.
Sex between men and men, women and women, trans men and women, trans women and men, gender non-binary people and intersex people - it’s all sex.
For people with SCI, the barriers to sexual pleasure and desire can often be mental. The biggest, most powerful sexual organ in the human body is the brain; learning how to use it in new ways can lead to some really exciting stuff.
We covered sex between straight people with SCI last year in the first edition of Love, Sex and SCI - and the mechanics of it are pretty much the same for gay, lesbian and bisexual people with spinal injuries.
For transgender people, it depends. Nobody is the same and people can be on vastly different paths - choosing to transition, or not to, won’t have much bearing on your injury - but for people with female genitalia, achieving orgasm and sexual pleasure tends to be more likely. For people with male genitalia, injury at pretty much any level will affect sexual function.
But remember; the biggest, most powerful sexual organ in the human body is the brain. Your journey to renewed sexual bliss starts inside - and with the right partner or partners, you can discover experiences you’d never imagined before.
So give yourself time, give yourself love - and give yourself a chance.
Patients and outpatients at Stoke Mandeville and Southport can join a sexuality and fertility clinic, free of charge. To make an appointment or for more information, contact Stoke Mandeville or Southport.
We’re a Different Kind of Law Firm
Aspire Law is a specialist law firm, working for people with SCI. We help and support everyone affected by spinal cord injury.
Get in touch: give us a call on 0800 030 20 40.