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Updated: Sep 7, 2022

I’m a wheelchair user now. Not by choice. Accidents happen. I got used to using the wheels, but my environment didn’t. Accessibility needs to be improved and, accepting people that are less-abled and treating them equal, needs an even bigger upgrade.

One of the things I noticed is that as a woman in a wheelchair you don’t get cat called. I used to experience that a lot before, back when I could still walk. But now it’s a totally different world. I think people see the disabled part first and then the person. It’s not that cat calling was a good thing per se. It’s the desexualization because of the wheelchair that is frustrating sometimes.

Why is this a thing? As a young woman you want to be acknowledged. I do want to be find attractive. Online I do get comments with compliments. But it's not about that, I'm talking about Real Life experiences. When I leave the house, and I'm out on the street, those reactions are not like the comments on photo's.

I've tried dating apps. Most guys just ask why I'm in a wheelchair. When I reply with that it's permanent, the conversation dies. And a lot of times I think the fact that I'm in a wheelchair does give me -10 from the start. People seem to be interested in the story, the wheels, but not me as a person. I did get rejected now a few times. One guy told me "I would never date you, not because you're not beautiful, but because you are disabled". It was hard. But that's reality. It's not easy. People around me say, you will be fine but they are not the ones that are dating a disabled or are disabled themselves. I feel confused and I'm fighting for a place in society and when it comes to dating.

The other day I was in front of a young woman my age, she walked a few meters ahead wearing a short skirt. The sidewalk passed a terras with a lot of people. I saw heads turning when she walked by. I just got curious what people would think seeing that versus seeing me, in the wheelchair. Anyway, I felt insecure because I know what is attractive and what is not. I can compare my memories of before my accident and now. Maybe I was used to a certain type of attention and now it's gone. I don't miss that but I do feel like I don't get a chance when it comes to dating, finding a job, or making new friends. I do think the wheelchair scares people. I try to own the wheelchair and I try to come across confident. But It's just not easy, I can tell you that.

The wheelchair is not a sexy thing. The wheelchair desexualizes the person who uses it.

But I hope people can learn to see pass that.

Photo © Tiger Lopez
Photo © Tiger Lopez

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