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Intersecting and Embodied Identities: A Queer Woman’s Experience of Disability and Sexuality

Abstract

This article tells the story of Josie, a gender non-conforming, young queer woman living with a disability. Through attention to critical moments and turning points in the participant’s lived experience of disability, sexuality, and gender, this study examines how intersecting identities both shape and are shaped by context and experiences of the body as both complex and fluid. This qualitative study employs a feminist-informed and narrative methodology called the “personal experience story” which seeks to uncover the meaning in an individual’s lived experiences. Five in-depth interviews were conducted with the participant. The impact of illness on the embodiment of identity, as well as on the participant’s agency and resistance to social and cultural norms relating to sex, gender, and the body, were main themes that emerged. Agency and resistance were important lived concepts for her, particularly in interactions with health care providers and systems and among communities in which she both located support and challenged hegemonic practices of gender presentation and discrimination. The findings revealed the importance of addressing heterosexism, homophobia and ableism at individual and institutional levels, in order to develop a social work practice that addresses the intersectional nature of identity, and the impacts of occupying multiple marginalized positions on a client’s experiences of their sexuality, body and environment.

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Acknowledgments

Thank you to Taina Mayberry for her research assistant work.

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Correspondence to J. D. Drummond.

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Drummond, J.D., Brotman, S. Intersecting and Embodied Identities: A Queer Woman’s Experience of Disability and Sexuality. Sex Disabil 32, 533–549 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11195-014-9382-4

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Keywords

  • Chronic illness
  • Women
  • Queer
  • Sexuality
  • Gender
  • Canada