Advice from a Sexual Health Trouble Shooter
“Sexuality is an important aspect of everyone’s life, whether you have a disability or not.”
Tracey Palmer, a sexual educator, has dedicated her life to ensuring people with disabilities have equal opportunity to define, learn and talk about their sexuality. She provides individual and couple support, group presentations and education regarding sexuality changes post-injury. However, this wasn’t always Tracey’s primary role. As a registered nurse, Tracey recognized a distinct discomfort the healthcare sector felt about discussing sexuality concerns, in particular, those held by people with spinal cord injuries. In 1993, she tackled this discomfort. She read literature, took sexuality courses and began working towards a BA in Sexology. Now she’s able to recommend solutions that help people manage challenges a disability imposes on sexuality. Throughout her endeavors, Tracey recalled her good fortune in having supportive colleagues, stating she believed “they were happy someone was stepping up to the plate to provide much-needed education.” However, there are taboos surrounding people with disabilities sexuality, and despite her colleagues support, progress has been slow. Many myths still exist, and for years people with a disability have been thought incapable of giving or receiving sexual pleasure. To speed progress up and dispel these myths, Tracey is now working on a tool to help healthcare professionals reflect on barriers preventing them from addressing sexuality. Click the link to read more about Tracey’s journey and look at her five principles for healthy sexual rehabilitation.