Gender, Sexuality, & (Dis)Ability: Queer Perspectives on the Experiences of Students with Disabilities

Document Type



Published in: Disability Studies Quarterly, vol.38, issue 2.


Disability theorists have long-argued that social norms related to gender, sexuality, and disability co-construct one another (Kafer, 2013; McRuer, 2011). In response, leading disability studies journals frequently consider the importance of gender and sexuality in the lives of people with disabilities (e.g., Albertz & Lewieck-Wilson, 2008; O'Toole, 2002; Robillard, & Fichten, 1983; Samuels, 2013; Tepper, 1999). However, only a few studies have explored these same issues in the lives of college students with disabilities (e.g, Henry, Fuerth, & Figliozzi, 2010; Miller, 2015). That represents a critical gap in the literature at a time when students with disabilities represent one of the fastest growing segments of the college-going population (Higher Education Research Institute, 2011; Snyder & Dillow, 2013). Available research has shown that college students with disabilities face pervasive stigma and chilly campus climates (Trammell, 2009). Yet, few studies use empirical findings to theorize disability as an intersectional category of identity that is co-constructed with other social identities such as gender and sexuality (Vaccaro, Kimball, Ostiguy, & Wells, 2015). As such, they may fail to note the interplay of overlapping and mutually reinforcing systems of oppression in the lives of students with disabilities.