Just like in every profession, people become sex educators for very different, and very personal, reasons. For me, it was the realization that enjoying sex doesn’t make you a bad person. It doesn’t make you a good person, either. For most folks, it’s just the way it is.
On Monday, April 4, The Tool Shed is sponsoring “What Aren’t They Talking About: Sex and Identity in Clinical Practice,” a one-day conference for healthcare professionals focusing on the sexual health and well-being of four distinct populations: seniors, people with disabilities, transgender patients, and people who participate in kinky sex. It can be difficult to talk about issues related to identity and sexual health, even with good friends. Bringing it up at a doctor’s visit, or with your physical therapist, chiropractor, social worker, or therapist, can feel almost impossible.
All of our presenters are dedicated educators who are inspired to teach by catalysts in their own lives. As we were getting ready for this conference, I spent some time getting to know them all. This week, I’m going to turn this column around. I asked all four of them the same question, and I’m sharing their answers with you.
Lucky: What are you talking about at our conference, and what do you wish everyone understood about it?
Joan Price: My session is called “Talking About Senior Sex,” and I developed it specifically for doctors, nurses, therapists, and other healthcare professionals. There are actually two things I wish everyone understood. First, sex has no expiration date. We are sexual beings lifelong, and we can have a richly rewarding sex life whatever our age. And second, every problem has a solution. When our bodies don’t work or respond the way they used to, we can address those challenges with information, creativity, and a sense of humor!
Ashley Altadonna: I’m presenting with another educator, Hudson, and we’re talking about how healthcare providers can make their practice friendly to transgender people. There is no single “right” answer to fit all trans patients’ needs. Basically, providing quality healthcare for trans and gender non-binary patients boils down to what we have come to know as patient-centered care. We must make room in all areas of healthcare practice for the diversity of human experience, and build a foundation of respect, choice, dignity, and responsiveness of the care relationship.
Sophia Chase: I’m excited to be talking about how to provide compassionate healthcare for kinky people, because many folks just don’t talk honestly with their providers about this. I wish everyone understood that BDSM and kinky play don’t always include sex, orgasms, or even genital contact! For some kinksters, bondage, role play, and spanking are intimate, exhilarating, and fulfilling all on their own.
Robin Mandell: My session will look at the realities of sex as a person with a disability. And like Joan, I actually have two things I want people to know. For people with disabilities: Becoming disabled doesn’t mean losing your sexuality. Sure, what you want sexually, and how you have sex might change, but that’s always changing for everyone, throughout our whole lives. Also, actually doing sexy things as a person with, for example, physical disabilities, is way more about being creative and open to the full range of sexual options than it is about having “special” techniques. And for people who think that being in a relationship with a disabled person would be too demanding, or not equal, or not sexy enough: Stop that, please! Relationships are hard, period, whether someone has a disability or not. Please don’t use that, or let friends and family use that, to deny you the possibility of love.
Learn more about “What Aren’t They Talking About: Sex and Identity in Clinical Practice” here.
Curious about cunnilingus? Anxious about anal? Do you have questions about queefs or problems with your prostate? Lucky Tomaszek is the education coordinator at The Tool Shed: An Erotic Boutique, the East Side’s only sex toy store. Send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and she’ll get back to you with an answer.