Sex educator on a mission to break down barriers around disability and sex
Kaleigh Trace became hyperaware of her own body at a very young age. "I became disabled through a car accident when I was just a kid. At that age it somehow didn't really faze me. But certainly as I aged, my differences became more evident and more alienating."
It took her many years of "trying to fake fit in" before she realized she was effectively teaching herself about "systemic oppression, self-love and self-hate, and about ableism." It was from these moments of fake fitting in that she learned to become more critical of societal norms and about body positivity in sex. Through her life experiences and purely by accident, Trace began working as an advocate for safe and body-positive sex, starting her own blog, The F***ing Facts. She tells me, "Writing about sex [on the blog] was always easy. I was writing advice columns and essays more than personal narratives and anecdotes. [Somehow] writing on the internet felt more ephemeral than having your words published on paper."
Trace, who identifies as a queer, disabled and feminist, used writing as an exercise to face herself, but it also gave her the opportunity to build relationships with others from around the world who were going through similar experiences. "Being so visible and simultaneously invisible is something that disability does for me and something that strongly informs my day-to-day life. There are not often examples of people with disabilities in the media that position us as anything more than inspirational or pitiful."
Trace is also a full-time sex educator with Venus Envy in Halifax, one of Canada’s top sex shops. The biggest thing she has been trying to do is break down the barriers of misinformation and help people start a dialogue about sex that they feel comfortable sharing. She explains, "Even I get awkward talking about sex sometimes! It's so personal, and our egos are so wrapped up in it. I try to make talking about sex a little easier by being honest about myself and all of my own misunderstandings and mishaps. I am definitely not an expert, but rather a real and fallible woman who has truly done many weird and awkward things."
She adds, "To me, what is inherent in both feminism and sex positivity is body positivity: that all bodies are valuable in and of themselves and should have the right to access pleasure. And I mean pleasure in the broadest sense — pleasure through eating, through consensual sex, through friendship. This is the stuff that makes life worth living." While Trace admits she still doesn’t have her entire sexual being figured out, she does feel more comfortable overall and doesn’t carry any guilt about her sex life or sexual desires.