Disability advocates are setting the record straight on sex, disability and intimacy.

As highlighted in the final report from last year’s Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, people with disability seek safe sexual relationships just as those without disability do – and yet, many have been denied choice and control over their pursuit of intimacy. Meanwhile, the stigma that people with disability are unable or unwilling to experience or enjoy sexual relationships, along with a lack of support to enable them, leaves many people with disability feeling desexualised and discriminated against.

Todd Winther — a political scientist, disability policy expert, writer and ‘intimacy, sex and sexuality’ course presenter — has first-hand experience of discrimination having lived with a severe form of cerebral palsy since birth, and is now passionate about sharing his insights and normalising conversations around sex and disability that many shy away from.

“My wife and I have been married for five years and together for eight, and meeting her online was the first opportunity where I actually had the power of choice around whether to disclose my disability, although online dating itself was one of the most emotionally traumatic periods of my life because I was constantly getting rejected based on something I couldn’t control,” Todd said.

He said he and his wife often face biased behaviour when out in public, with people assuming she is a family member or even his support worker.

“The recent Royal Commission dismantled the illusion of inclusion in Australia. We need a shift in mindset that recognises people with disability and their need for human connection. I can’t believe people without disabilities believe that people with disabilities don’t want to have sex. We’re just as horny as you are!” he said.

Todd is now sharing his expert advice on sex and disability as part of the first episodes of a new podcast called That Was Unexpected, launching Thursday 15 February.

Created by Youngcare — a national not-for-profit organisation that provides choice, independence and dignity to young people living in Australia with significant physical disabilities – the podcast advocates for the normalisation of sex and disability.

Todd will be joined on the podcast by Dr Marita Heck, a nurse, midwife and researcher who specialises in supporting people with disability improve their sexual quality of life.

The podcast is hosted by Lisa Cox, an award-winning thought leader, TEDx speaker, author, Youngcare ambassador and a proud member of the disability community.

“I became disabled unexpectedly almost 20 years ago and while I can’t change what happened to me, I can help to change stereotypical assumptions and create better understanding about disability, whether or not you have one,” Lisa said.

“I am absolutely thrilled to be hosting a podcast that helps to foster understanding around some hard-hitting truths, and exploring a range of topics with the help of our experts — from sex and disability, to the abhorrent lack of representation in our communities.”

Listeners can find That Was Unexpected anywhere they listen to their favourite podcasts, or by visiting youngcare.com.au/podcast.