Tuppy Owens has been an advocate for the sexual rights of the disabled for over 35 years. In 1979, she founded Outsiders, a club providing dating opportunities for disabled people. The TLC Trust followed some 20 years later in 2000, set up to facilitate the sexual needs of the disabled by connecting them with reliable and responsible sex workers.
Her latest book, ‘Supporting Disabled People With Their Sexual Lives’ is a straight-talking guide to helping disabled people fulfill their sexual lives, covering sexual needs, difficulties disabled people experience and communication.
Many health and social care professionals today feel untrained, fearful and ill-equipped to support their disabled patients, clients and service users in their sexual lives. The result is that disabled people can be left feeling frustrated and afraid that their sexual needs will be forever unrecognised and unmet. This is a straight-talking guide to supporting disabled people with their sexual lives. It covers the range of difficulties disabled people experience, from physical limitations to problems such as lack of acceptance, knowledge and skills.
The real difficulties professionals experience are also covered with positive suggestions, and a chapter on communication discusses how to discuss sex. Sections follow on the sexual services available to help, and the wide range of sexual diversities which disabled people can and do enjoy. A chapter by Claire de Than covers the law. This clear, down-to-earth guide will be essential reading for all those working with or supporting disabled people, from care home workers and managers to social workers, medical staff and therapists.
Reviews of the book
People with disabilities have, too often, been denied sexual happiness and expression. Although attitudes are slowly changing, there is a long way to go. Tuppy’s helpful anecdotes and lack of jargon make for an inspiring read which will give practitioners the confidence to discuss sex with their disabled clients.
Helen Dunham, PSHE SEN Teacher and Shada Member
Tuppy deserves national recognition for decades of challenging our collective neglect of the emotional, social and sexual needs of people with impairments. In the face of media, fashion and beauty industry promotion of perfect bodies, which cruelly makes disabled people ‘outsiders’, Tuppy has tirelessly campaigned and developed resources for the hundreds of thousands of UK people whose needs for friendship, affection and sex we marginalize and ignore.
Andy Beckingham, FFPH, Consultant in Public Health
Our sex lives have been censored, ignored and unsupported, and Tuppy suggests many simple, respectful and clever ways in which this can be turned around. I hope her insightful book can contribute to improve the sex lives of many previously isolated or sexually frustrated disabled people.
This book is relevant to a broad range of professionals coming into contact with a broad range of disabled people. Whether physically, visually or hearing impaired, or with learning difficulties, deaf-blind or those with ME, social anxiety or Asperger’s syndrome. This remarkable book will support all.
Maria Oshodi, VI Artistic Director and CEO of Extant
About Tuppy Owens
Tuppy Owens was born in Cambridge. She gained a degree in zoology from Exeter University, and then worked in ecology in Africa and Trinidad. She settled in London, and worked as a scientific administrator at the Natural Environment Research Council. Then, in the late 1960s, she established a sex education book publishing company, for which she wrote and published The Sex Maniac’s Diary successfully between 1972 and 1995, and which she operated as a thriving and attention-grabbing business from her Mayfair flat — for example, the 1975 Sex Maniac’s Diary was launched in August 1974 with a reception at the Bristol Hotel in London which was reported on the following day in the Financial Times.
From 1974, Owens also began lecturing on the subject of sex. In 1979, she started Outsiders Club, for people with disabilities seeking new friends and partners. From 1984, the Sex Maniac’s Diary was published as The Safer Sex Maniac’s Diary and provided the first visual instructions to the public on how to put a condom on securely; it also reviewed condoms and offered safer sex advice, all at the beginning of the outbreak of HIV.
Also in the 1980s, Owens trained as a sex therapist at St George’s Hospital Medical School in London, where she gained a diploma in Human Sexuality in 1986. She was also subsequently awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Institute of Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco. In 2009 Tuppy was named one of the Family Planning Association‘s 80 most influential achievers in the field of family planning.
In the 1990s, after more than 30 years living in London Dr Tuppy Owens moved away and has, since then, lived in a croft in the North of Scotland.
In 2005, Tuppy Owens founded the Sexual Health and Disability Alliance (SHADA) to bring together health professionals interested in sex and disability. In November 2009, a conference with the title “Disability: Sex, Relationships and Pleasure” was held by SHADA with the Royal Society of Medicine. Tuppy produced the Sexual Respect Tool Kit and started the sexual advocacy service, ASAP. Tuppy also answers the Sex and Disability Helpline. Her book “Supporting Disabled People with their Sexual Lives will be published by Jessica Kingsley on 19 November 2014.
Dr Tuppy Owens remains active in running Outsiders. At the same time, she also runs the Sex Maniacs Ball to fund Outsiders, and is the founder of another fundraiser, The Erotic Awards, now called The Sexual Freedom Awards and run by Charlotte Rose. Tuppy is the chair of the Sexual Freedom Coalition