Inspiring Sexual Confidence in Disabled People

by Dr Tuppy Owens
Highlands of Scotland, UK

I have worked with disabled people since 1979, running a club, Outsiders, for those with physical and social impairments to find partners. I also answer the Sex and Disability Helpline, which gets calls and emails from all over the world.

I am aware that many people with disabilities, having been put down, teased, bullied and rejected, may have little confidence at all, let alone sexual confidence. I have been impressed, however, with the number of independent professionals who, quite independently, offer ways for them to gain sexual confidence.

Obviously, top of the list, go those who provide sexual services to disabled people. They empower them, teach them, help them feel that their bodies actually belong to themselves and can be sources of pleasure and beauty.

My colleague, the photographer. Ashley, has specialised in photographing disabled people looking sexy. He empowers the subject to decide exactly how they will look. One young lady described to me what a positive impact this had on her, and she blossomed after she had posed and seen the pictures. You can see some of Ashley’s images on

Ashley told me that the photos he took of the now-famous Mat Fraser who has short arms and no thumbs thanks to Thalidomide, began his journey towards actually loving his hands being photographed by him.

I decided to put all these pioneers on the Outsiders website to both inspire others to do this work and inspire disabled people to use the services. You can see them if you click on Confidence.

I believe that disabled people would have much more sexual confidence if they were taught sex education properly in schools and colleges. Some have told me that their sex education was worse than useless. This has inspired me to produce a website and an e-book, Sex Education and Inspiration for People with Disabilities, written entirely by disabled people and those who provide them with sexual services. I hope it will be published in 2017.

We aim to support the members of Outsiders to gain sexual confidence by encouraging them to make a play for people they fancy. We also encourage them to take an active role in Outsiders, which somehow makes them more likely to find a partner.

In other words, get busy and flirty and, stop fearing rejection. As they say, if you ask a hundred people for a date, one of them will say yes!

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