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Sex Out Loud with Tristan Taormino

Nov 9, 2020

Lydia X. Z. Brown, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, and Katie Tastrom join Tristan Taormino to talk about disability justice, sex, and relationships. We explore the question: what does it mean to apply a Disability Justice lens to sexuality and sex-positive culture? What are the effects when Black and Brown disabled people are hypersexualized, desexualized or degendered? On an interpersonal level, desexualization assumes disabled folks don’t have agency or skill when it comes to their sexuality and can put pressure on them to perform a kind of hypersexuality. We discuss desirability and undesirability, strength-based approaches to disability and sexuality, disabled sex workers, and the overwhelming amount of sexual violence disabled people face. We also delve into ableism, politics, and representation in the legal case of Marjorie Anna Stubblefield who had a sexual relationship with D.J., a non-verbal man with cerebral palsy. This episode is sponsored by Calm and Dipsea.

Lydia X. Z. Brown is a disability justice advocate, organizer, educator, attorney, strategist, and writer whose work has largely focused on interpersonal and state violence against multiply-marginalized disabled people living at the intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, nation, and language. They are Policy Counsel for the Privacy and Data Project at the Center for Democracy and Technology; Adjunct Lecturer in Disability Studies for Georgetown University; and Director of Policy, Advocacy, and External Affairs at the Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network. They are also founder and volunteer director of the Fund for Community Reparations for Autistic People of Color's Interdependence, Survival, and Empowerment. Currently, they serve as a founding board member of the Alliance for Citizen Directed Supports, presidential appointee to the American Bar Association's Commission on Disability Rights, and chair of the American Bar Association's Section on Civil Rights & Social Justice, Disability Rights Committee. In 2015, Lydia was named to Pacific Standard's 30 Top Thinkers Under 30 list, and to Mic’s list of 50 impactful leaders, cultural influencers, and breakthrough innovators. In 2018, NBC featured them as one of 26 Asian Pacific American breakthrough leaders for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and Amplifier featured them as part of the We The Future campaign for youth activism.

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is just another middle aged mixed-race rust belt autistic aging queerpunk, and a queer disabled and autistic nonbinary femme writer, performer, educator freedom dreamer, and disability and transformative justice movement worker of Burgher/Tamil Sri Lankan, Irish and Roma ascent. She is the 2020 winner of the Lambda Literary Foundation's Jean Cordova Prize for Lesbian/Queer Nonfiction, and is the author and co-editor of nine books, including Beyond Survival: Strategies and Stories from the Transformative Justice Movement (co-edited with Ejeris Dixon), TonguebreakerCare Work: Dreaming Disability Justice,Bridge of Flowers, BodymapDirty RiverThe Revolution Starts At Home: Confronting Intimate Violence in Activist Communities (coedited with Ching-In Chen and Jai Dulani), Love Cake and Consensual Genocide. Their work has won the Lambda and been shortlisted four times for the Publishing Triangle Award.  A lead artist for the disability justice performance collective, Sins Invalid, since 2009, Leah also co-created the collectives Performance/Disability/Art, Mangos With Chili, and Toronto’s Asian Arts Freedom School and is currently on the programming team for the Disability and Intersectionality Summit. They believe in the power of storytelling and witnessing, being an everyday-ass human being, the power of disability justice to create an abolitionist present and future, crip and Crazy person brilliance, and the unpredictable future. Raised in Worcester, MA, they currently live in South Seattle, unceded Duwamish territories.   

Katie Tastrom is a writer and sex worker based in Upstate NY who focuses on disability justice, sexuality, and abolition. Her most recent article was in HuffPost.