"My Turn"-A Student Perspective-February 2014
Hello and welcome to the DRES Sexability blog. Hope everyone enjoyed their well deserved winter break. For the sake of confidentiality, I wish not to reveal my name but will say that I am currently a sophomore at UIUC and have been a DRES student since my freshman year. Through a variety of means as well as getting acquainted with Dr. Betsy Basch, I figured it would be worthwhile for me to share a bit about my own life in regards to sex and disability. Through this post, you’ll gain a few good insights from my own life and hopefully pick up some helpful tips or thoughts to think through on your own.
What I am here to talk about today revolves around those disabilities that might not be visible upon first glance. For me, many people upon seeing me would not be able to tell that I have multiple disabilities. This is because primarily my disabilities are non-physical. I am deaf in one ear (my right), need clarification of instructions on an as needed basis because of issues with executive functions, and have Tourettes Syndrome.
In meeting people for the first time, I often think about myself and how I come across. Instinctively and rather unfortunately, my mind jumps to “Will people notice my Tourette's? Will they ask why I blink so much?, How long will it take them to notice I’m deaf? Will I sound stupid if I get confused by directions?” Occasionally I do get pointed out that I blink my eyes a irregular amount but I quickly explain that I have Tourette’s and it’s something I can’t help. After a while of knowing someone I’ll let them know that I cannot hear out of my right ear to ensure that I am on their right side.
Dating with a non-physical disability presents it’s own challenges. I wonder what people think of me when I look at them or when I feel an attraction to them. A good motto to adhere to that I need to remind myself of is “you don’t know until you try”. By this you don’t know if someone likes you until you give off signals and make it apparent that you're attracted to them. As with someone with a physical disability will tell you, a person’s not worth time and a relationship if they can’t get passed your disability. Amongst my closest friends they often forget about it since it seems to be second nature.
Maybe you'll ignore this post or maybe it’s gotten you to think about your own experiences dating and the concept of sexuality. I do know however that it has given you a peek into my own life to see how my disability and sexuality plays a role in my thoughts and actions. Of course, there is always constant room for improvement!
How Can I Get Involved?
Sexual Health Peers
Sexual Health Peers (SHPs) are working to change the way we talk about sexual health on campus by providing inclusive, sex-positive, medically accurate sex education. SHPs facilitate workshops to discuss positive relationships, safer sex, and healthy sexuality. SHPs also help link other students to sexual health services and information. New members can join at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or request a workshop!