Kink, Sex, and Disability: What You Need to Know

When we think of kinky sex including floggers, wax play, or restraints, we generally don’t include disabled people in that image. If someone thinks of disability in regards to sex at all, they probably assume disabled people don’t have sex, or maybe that they can’t even get it up.

There’s a lot of information to debunk regarding sex and disability. 

What is disability?

When most people think about disability, they imagine someone in a wheelchair. However, this definition leaves out many, many people.

Defining disability is actually kind of difficult. There’s the definition that the U.S. government gives to determine disability benefits. It states:

“The ADA defines a person with a disability as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity.”

This definition includes (but isn’t limited to):

  • Musculoskeletal conditions, like back injuries, carpal tunnel, scoliosis, or fibromyalgia
  • Senses and speech issues, such as vision or hearing loss
  • Neurological disorders, like MS, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s, or epilepsy
  • Mental disorders like depression, bipolar, or anxiety
  • Neurodivergence, such as autism
  • Immune system disorders, like HIV/AIDS, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Respiratory issues, such as COPD or asthma
  • Chronic pain
  • Neurological disorders, like seizure disorders or traumatic brain injury

However, this doesn’t give the whole picture. This definition is based on what the government considers disability. Let’s be real, they’re narrowing their scope as much as possible, because they don’t want to pay out benefits. These are also based on ailments that might make it impossible for someone to work. Some disabled people are able to work a job with reasonable accommodations, and that doesn’t make them any less disabled.

Recently, disability advocacy is moving to the social model of disability, instead of the government or medical definitions. The social model of disability says that what makes someone disabled is not their medical condition, but the attitudes and structures of society. This is what makes disability more than a medical issue. It’s a civil rights issue.

This model distinguishes between “impairments” and “disability.” Impairments are problems that might prevent someone from doing something. Disability is the additional disadvantage bestowed by society which treats impairments as abnormal, which excludes these people from full participation in society.

Some ways that people are disabled by society include

  • Prejudice
  • Labeling
  • Ignorance
  • Lack of financial independence
  • Families being over protective
  • Not having information in accessible formats

If you think disability advocacy isn’t a big deal, think again. 61 million adults in the United States live with a disability. This means that literally 1 in 4 adults are disabled. Does that surprise you? 

Or think about it this way. All of us are temporarily abled at best. All it takes is one accident or illness to become disabled. 

We need to debunk the misconceptions we have about disabled people, and our thoughts about how they have sex is a part of that.

5 myths about disability and sex

1. Disabled people can’t have sex.

Tons of disabled people have satisfying sex lives, and many of them have kinky sex, too! Their sex lives might look a little different, but that doesn’t make them any less real.

If someone has a spinal cord injury that makes it so they don’t have feeling in their genitals, don’t forget there are other ways to get off. Penetration and genital stimulation aren’t the only sex acts worth talking about.

2. Disabled people don’t want or need sex.

Many people think of disabled people as asexual beings, or almost childlike. Disabled people have sexual feelings, wants, and desires just like everyone else. They have favorite sex positions, names they like being called during sex, and kinks. Although some disabled people do identify as asexual or don’t want sex for whatever reason, most people are just as freaky as you are.

3. Disabled people can’t (or shouldn’t) have kids.

Most disabilities don’t affect someone’s fertility at all. If you want kids, that’s no reason to exclude people with disabilities from your romantic pool. Many disabilities aren’t even hereditary, so there’s no higher risk that your child will be disabled. 

Some disabled people don’t want kids, and that’s okay! However, if you’re suggesting that disabled people shouldn’t have kids so they don’t pass along their condition, you’re getting into eugenics territory, my friend. Pump the brakes.

4. Disabled people are a burden on their partners.

During traditional wedding vows, you say you’ll love your partner “in sickness and in health?” If you get with an able-bodied person, who’s to say they won’t develop a condition right after you get married?

Part of loving someone is caring for them. If you get into a relationship with a disabled partner, that might look a little different than relationships you’ve had before. However, keep in mind that, when you go on a first date, this person is either caring for themselves or getting care in another way. They’re not going to suddenly become completely dependent on you on date three. And at that point, you can talk about things like adults.

5. Sex with a disabled person needs to be soft and tame.

This usually isn’t true! Sometimes, a disabled partner might need some accommodations during sex to make sure they’re comfortable and safe. However, we’ll talk about disabled kinky sex later, and many people are into pain play and other BDSM practices that definitely aren’t for the faint of heart.

How a disability might affect someone’s sex life

Here are some examples of how a disability might affect a person’s sex life.

A dominant sustains a back injury. Sometimes their requests for their submissives include fetching their pills and feeding them to them, cleaning up play spaces after a scene, or massaging their sore muscles.

A submissive with a severe anxiety disorder gets help from their dom combatting their panic attacks. 

Someone who suffers from scoliosis gets relief from being flogged. They make sure to have a safe word so things can stop if the flogging is too painful.

A wheelchair user needs to be helped into bed before sex, and placing some pillows in the right place make things a lot easier for them.

Every disability is different, so how they affect someone’s sex life is different, too. 

How to talk about disability with a potential partner

First, it’s not a good idea to start talking about how someone has sex right when you meet them. (Unless maybe you’re in a sex dungeon. Then you get a pass.)

Get to know them first. Talk about normal stuff. Wait until things heat up to put sex on the table. It’s not a good look to ask, “Does your vagina work?” ten minutes into your Tinder date.

Plus, not all disabilities are visible. (In fact, a lot of them aren’t.) That means it’s even more important to be open and honest with your partner about the best way to have sex for both of you.

Ask your new partner some questions like:

  • What works for your body and doesn’t work for your body?
  • What do I need to know about your body in order for us to have a really good time?
  • Are there any accommodations that I can make so that this will be a better time for you?

Really listen to what they say, and volunteer your own answers, because you probably have some. Maybe you don’t like shower sex, or you like a pillow under your knees, or you like being called a certain name in bed. 

This sort of communication isn’t just important when you’re talking to a disabled person. You should have this conversation with all new partners! It will make sex better for you, promise.

Pain and sex

Many people are worried about having kinky sex with their disabled partner. What if they dislocate a joint or get a migraine?

The rule you always hear for BDSM sex is SSC- Safe, Sane, and Consensual. However, for some disabled people, it’s not possible to have BDSM sex that’s 100% safe. There might be small injuries or issues with mental health conditions.

This is why some people in the disability kink community use the acronym RACK instead, which stands for Risk-Aware Consensual Kink. RACK is also important because not all kink play is completely safe for non-disabled people, either, like blood play, fire play, or breath play.

Having BDSM sex with people with chronic health conditions can actually help them feel better and empower them. When pain is something that happens to you without your consent, it can be amazing to take back that feeling. There’s a difference between the pain that you asked for and the pain from your illness, and that can feel really good.

Also, some people have hella high pain tolerance from their chronic illness. This can be amazing for both parties as they play. Just make sure you’re not causing any permanent harm during the process.

Pain can feel good to disabled people in the same way that it can feel good to able-bodied people. There just might be a couple of extra steps involved in making sure you follow the RISK principles.

What is devoteeism?

It’s not really possible to talk about kinks and disabled people without discussing devoteeism. There’s a decent chance that’s why you clicked on this article.

Devoteeism is a fetish for people with disabilities. This could be any disability, but generally involves visible disabilities. One of the most popular types of devotee porn (devo for short) is that of amputees. 

Devo porn is rarely about seeing a person with a disability in a sexual situation. It’s often about watching them struggle through everyday tasks, like getting out of a wheelchair or cleaning their kitchen. 

Some devotees say the fetish isn’t just about the physical appearance of the person, but that it’s also the specific personality of a person who’s disabled. Or they like watching them overcome the odds and triumph over hardships.

In some cases, devos also want to care for disabled people. They are drawn to being a caregiver, and fantasize about caring for people with disabilities.

How does the disability community feel about devotees?

Overally, the consensus seems to be not great.

Many disabled people feel that devotees are treating them like objects, not people. They don’t appreciate that they’re being seen for only one part of who they are, at least at first. 

There’s a large issue in the disability community about being seen as “inspiration porn.” For example, if someone sees a disabled person playing basketball in a wheelchair, they’ll say, “Well if she can do that, I need to go to the gym more.” It minimizes the accomplishments of disabled people and is generally just yucky.

People who use mobility aids are fetishized, and many disabled people feel like devos don’t even see that there’s a person in the wheelchair, but that they’re just paying attention to the inanimate object. A wheelchair is not sexy to a person who uses one, and they don’t like that someone would be interested in them because of their mobility equipment.

Lastly, disabled people often feel harassed by some aggressive devos in the community. Most disabled people who try online dating will get regular messages from devotees. This on its own could be okay, but they can be explicit and even use slurs. In addition, some disability advocates who aren’t putting out anything sexual get online sexual harassment from devotees or get their pictures put up on porn sites.

However, there are many happy and healthy relationships between disabled people and devotees. There are lots of dating sites that exist specifically to match disabled people with devotees.

Why would this relationship work? It can be hard for disabled people to find someone who sees them as sexual, which devotees will do off the bat. Plus, devotees already know about their disability and are willing to help. If the disabled person is kinky, they might be more willing to accept devoteeism as a part of their sex life.

It’s possible for there to be a healthy relationship between a devo and a disabled person. However, pay attention to the next section, because there are definitely right and wrong ways to have a sexual relationship with a disabled person.

Do’s and Don’ts of kink and disability

Do

Make alterations to play when needed.

Sex and kink play might look different with a disabled person. There are some accomodations you might have to make so that sex is enjoyable for everyone. For example, a disabled person might not be able to stand tied to the wall for long periods of time to be whipped. They might need to lie on a bed to make this type of play possible.

Disabled people shouldn’t feel guilty about needing accommodations in a scene. Everyone is different and needs different things from sex. Some people want to be choked or called a slut. A disabled person might just want to take a quick five minute break.

Also, if you’re having sex with a disabled person, don’t make them feel guilty about needing to ask for accomodations. It’s already important that they felt comfortable voicing their needs to you instead of playing brave and getting hurt. Your play will be sexier when your partner is feeling safe and comfortable.

Consider trying out special aids to make your sex life better.

Your sex life might be better if you incorporate some new items into your repitoire. Buying new sex toys and accessories is fun for everyone, and it can be even more exciting if your partner is disabled.

You might really benefit from a sex cushion like one from the It Collection. They have a positions gallery, but it might even just help to support your head or your lower back during a scene. Liberator is another brand that offers great support cushions for wheelchair users, amputees, and anyone with limited mobility. In particular, their Wanda model serves as a sex toy mount and is designed to work with a Magic Wand.

If your partner has a penis, they might enjoy the Pulse Solo Essential. It lets them get off without stroking or touching their penis at all! This is great for masturbation, but you can use it any time you’d ask them to stroke their dick, like while you’re rimming them or stimulating their prostate. Fleshlights are also great because they’re lightweight and easy to hold.

If you want internal stimulation, you can purchase the Tantus Echo Handle dildo. Because of its long length and handle, it works well if you have a back injury or have mobility limitations. There are also toys that mimic the sensation of thrusting, like the Stronic Drei

Lastly, some people have trouble with a lack of sensation and have difficulty orgasming. A strong vibrator might help. The Doxy Magic Wand Massager has a very large head, which makes it easier to orgasm. Plus, the long handle makes it more accessible.

Don’t forget kinky supplies! If both of you are into it, use your favorite restraints, floggers, whips, and e-stim toys. Just make sure you’re following RACK (Risk-Aware Consensual Kink). 

Use multiple safe words for different things

Usually, using a safe word means “I’m not turned on anymore, stop.” However, a disabled partner might need to use a safe word to tell you they’re about to have a seizure, they need to use the bathroom, a joint popped out of place, or they’re in too much pain.

Ideally, the two of you should have a couple of different safe words so you can care for them properly and even seek medical attention if necessary. Just make sure you don’t come up with too many different words, or it might be difficult to remember the right one through the stimulation of the scene.

Develop a “big sexy three.”

Here’s a tip for disabled people, or something a non-disabled person can ask their partner.

Figure out the main three accomodations you need for sex to happen. This is important because it keeps all of the things you could tell them from becoming overwhelming, for you and your partner. You can make the list a little longer if you need to. Just focus on the essentials to make sure you have a good time.

Here are some things you might put on the list: 

  • Look at me while you’re talking so I can read your lips.
  • I can only be penetrated while on my side.
  • I want to transfer out of my chair on my own.
  • I might need a break in the middle.
  • I might want to finish myself off at the end with my strong vibrator.
  • I have trouble breathing while I’m on my back.
  • I might need a break to go to the bathroom.

This is a good primer for potential long-term partners, but it’s great if you want to hook up with someone. They don’t necessarily need to know every nuance of your disability; you might just want to get it on!

Don’t

Use kid gloves.

Many people get nervous about doing BDSM scenes with disabled people. They’re afraid they’ll hurt them, so they hold back. Your partner will know if you’re whipping them at half capacity, and they’ll probably get really annoyed.

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Your partner knows their body better than you do. If they say they can take a flogging, believe them! They’ve probably done it many times before and are an expert on their pain tolerance.

As long as you’re following RISK principles, give them what they ask for. They asked you to fuck them, not protect them like a knight in shining armor.

Treat your partner like inspiration porn.

Don’t be surprised when your partner makes dinner on their own or goes up a steep hill in their wheelchair. Don’t act shocked and congratulate them for it. And certainly don’t act like these small parts of their day are some big turn on for you.

Your partner is living their life, just like you. It shouldn’t turn you on to watch them struggle.

Be ableist.

There are a few ways you can avoid being an ableist asshole, either when you meet your partner or as you continue to date.

Don’t launch into 20 questions about their disability the second you meet them. Maybe ask them about their favorite episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and whether they like Justin Beiber’s new song (or think it’s super annoying).

If you’re going to hook up with them or be an important part of their life, you’ll get to talking about things like what their disability is, how it happened, and how they have sex. But the first hour of knowing them is not the time to ask those questions. (Again, unless you’re in a sex dungeon.)

Don’t use ableist slurs for them unless they specifically ask you to. These can include words like handicap(ped), cr*pple, lame, r*tarded, or special needs. Instead of handicapped stall or parking spot, use accessible. And instead of the words that refer to a person, you could use like, their name. (Some disabled people may reclaim slurs to refer to themselves, but this doesn’t mean you can use them unless they tell you to.)

And here’s a big one. Listen! You probably have misconceptions about disabled people or the disabled community that you didn’t even know about. If your disabled partner tells you you did something wrong, apologize. You should also consider seeking out resources on your own to learn more about what it means to be disabled. There are tons of podcasts, blogs, books, and Twitter accounts about the subject.

Neglect aftercare.

Aftercare is always an important part of a BDSM scene, but it’s especially important when one or both of the participants are disabled. 

Aftercare might look a little different after you have sex with a disabled person. It might not just be snuggling and eating some Cheetos. It might involve helping your partner get back in a wheelchair or put on their leg braces. It could mean helping them get dressed. It could even mean helping them with some bathroom stuff.

Your partner might also need some extra care in the next couple of days after a big session. Plan to spend some non-sexual time together, and maybe cook them a meal if they have fatigue or pain. Figure out what their needs are and do your best to meet them.

Always expect spontaneous sex.

Depending on your partner’s disability, random, spontaneous sex might only be possible sometimes, or it may not be possible at all. 

For one, sex might take longer. If your partner has sensitivity issues, it might take them longer to have an orgasm. Also, acts like getting your partner undressed, getting out the sex furniture, and plugging in the vibrator might just take longer, making a quickie before work an impossibility.

Even if you plan to have sex in advance, your partner might not be able to do it in the moment. They might have a pain flare up or not feel good. This is something you’ll need to get used to.

However, there might be some workarounds. Mutual masturbation might be quicker and just as satisfying. Or if you really want to get off and they can’t, they might enjoy watching you get yourself off.

You need to respect the fact that your partner might not always be up for sex. Don’t get frustrated with them or put them in a position where they feel like they have to have sex with you. That’s the opposite of a healthy relationship.

Treat disabled people like objects.

On a whole, disabled people want to be treated just like everyone else. They want to live in a society that accommodates their disability, and they want to be with someone who accommodates it, too.

A disabled person is more than their wheelchair or amputation. Looking at disabled people like this is dehumanizing. This does not fall under RACK, because the disabled person isn’t consenting to being looked at like an object.

If you’re a devotee, make sure you’re telling disabled people about it up front. It shouldn’t be kept a secret.

And remember, disabled people are literally just people. They should be treated with respect and dignity.

Plus, just like everyone else, they’re kinky and sexy as hell.