Feature Issue on Sexuality and Gender Identity for People with Intellectual, Developmental, and Other Disabilities

From the Editors

Symbols for various sexuality and gender identities are depicted over a background featuring the colors of the disability pride flag.

The images on our print cover depict symbols of sexuality, gender, and disability identity today. Together, they stand for the progress made by individuals with and without disabilities to determine their own sexuality and gender identities.

For people with disabilities, this progress is tinged with unique threats, new and old. Many U.S. states are curtailing sex education and gender identity expression overall, and few mandate accessible, comprehensive sex education for people with disabilities. This is a clear threat to the health, safety, and well-being of people with disabilities. It echoes eugenics’ darkest days of forced sterilization and other atrocities committed under the false notion that people with disabilities are not, or should not be, sexual beings.

This issue of Impact calls out these threats, and explores the most promising paths forward. It discusses participatory research, more accessible online dating, and increased education for people supporting people with disabilities. It presents programs helping people with disabilities explore, understand, and advocate for their sexuality and gender identities. And, as always, people with disabilities themselves share their own stories, telling us about their identities and how those identities fit into their lives today. Some are just getting to know their own sexuality or gender identity. Others have already felt the pain of exclusion for sharing their identities with their communities. Like the rest of the disability world, they are gay and straight, cisgender and transgender, and they are but a slice of all of the other identities in the LGBTQ+ rainbow. We stand with, and celebrate, them all.

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