Created By: Megaptera on May 3, 2013 Last Edited By: Megaptera on May 6, 2013

Disabled Means Asexual

The assumption that disability of any sort precludes sexual desire or romantic interaction.

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Characters with disabilities are often mysteriously left out of any kind of romantic interaction, because by default they are assumed to not have any sexual feeling or desire for such.

This is a Discredited Trope, or is becoming one, and is frustrating for audiences with disabilities. Sexual feeling and the desire for sexual or romantic interaction don't magically disappear when a disability is present, even if on the surface it appears that the disability affects the typical sexual parts of the body.

Played straight: characters involved in this trope might be the only singleton in a cast of couples, or depicted as having Incorruptible Pure Pureness as part of their inspirational disability complex. (This often has the Unfortunate Implication of relegating the adult character to childlike status; see also Disabled Means Helpless.)

Aversions could include disabled characters who cruise bars for dates, read pinup magazines, describe or are shown to be finding creative ways to take care of their sexual needs, or of course who are in relationships. It's possible that every aversion is notable enough to be listed, simply because it's still a bit revolutionary for a show to depict a disabled character this way.

A disabled guest character who is brought in specifically for a relationship with an able-bodied main character is a Disabled Love Interest.

No Real Life Examples, please.




The Cadfael novel The Pilgrim of Hate has Rhun, a teenager with a severe and painful physical disability. His lack of any interest in women is lampshaded by alluding to his disability. In the end it turns out to be a setup for him to be miraculously cured by the local saint and then decide to become a monk since he had no other plans for the future.

Community Feedback Replies: 13
  • May 3, 2013
    [[folder: Live Action TV]]

    • Averted in Covert Affairs. Auggie uses his blindness to pick up women and claims to know how hot a woman is by listening to the sound of her footsteps.
  • May 3, 2013
    • Averted in Katawa Shoujo; after all, it's a dating sim where almost the entire cast (including the protagonist) has a disability.
  • May 3, 2013
    Not sure what to make of a trope, that has more averted examples than straight ones.

    [[folder: Film]] Averted in the film version of My Left Foot, where the paralyzed hero falls in hopeless love with his able-bodied female mentor.
  • May 3, 2013
    Played straight with Lady what'sername in the Honor Harrington series, which got some criticism from physically disabled readers. (In-story this is used to create manpain for her husband, who's physically attracted to Honor.)
  • May 3, 2013
    Western Animation

    With Joe Swanson on Family Guy this is touched on but not played completely straight: his paraplegia supposedly includes his sexual organs, and it's implied there is somewhat of a strain on his marriage with Bonnie, who has sometimes had sex with other guys (with his loving but pained consent, so that her sexual needs can be satisfied). They do share intimate moments as a couple though. When he gets a leg transplant one episode (and supposedly his spine is repaired as well), the two have some wild sex for the first time in years.
  • May 4, 2013
    ^^^ Most tropes have more aversions than examples. That's why most pages (including this one) shouldn't list aversions. They should list examples.
  • May 4, 2013
    Maybe I should make a second page for the aversions? And I was assuming that the aversions wouldn't outnumber the straight examples anyways. Hmm. It could be that it's what people notice. Or maybe I need to restrict it to blatant and specific played-straight examples like the Cadfael one that I initially came up with.
  • May 4, 2013
    As for aversions or whatever, Legit plays with this quite heavily. Billy has muscular dystrophy, and Jim Jefferies sets out to get him sex with a prostitute and thus lose his virginity. It gets a lot weirder as the season goes on. I won't spoil it.
  • May 4, 2013
    Played with heavily in Breaking The Waves where a man is paralysed and urges his wife to take a lover as he can no longer sexually satisfy her, much to his own fustration.
  • May 4, 2013
    Like most tropes defined by the absence of something, this is probably one of those tropes that's "just there" until it's subverted or averted. It might be more of a Real Life attitude than an actual trope anyway. Aversions should definitely stay off the page if they fall under Disabled Love Interest.
  • May 4, 2013
    Also with Joe Swanson and Family Guy: In one episode Chris goes to the bar for advice on women, Joe offers, but Chris refuses, invoking this trope.
  • May 6, 2013
    • Discussed and averted in Stargate Universe where one of the minor recurring characters is paralyzed from the neck down and in love with one of the lead characters (Rush). Naturally when she went body-swapping she wanted to take full advantage of the situation.
  • May 6, 2013
    In an episode of The Facts Of Life Blair's cousin Geri, an Inspirationally Disadvantaged Recurring Character young woman who has Cerbral Palsey, gets asked out by a non-disabled man. While getting ready she mentions in passing that she wants to make a good impression. "Y'know, first date and all." Blair takes this to mean that it's Geri's first date ever, not her first date with that particular guy.