Claire Ryan profile

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[00:00:00] This program is brought to you by pride in zero.com. [00:00:06] So clear Ryan sexuality and disability, what's it all about? [00:00:10] What is it all about? Well, no one knows what it's about because no one talks about it quite frankly. I do. My work that I do is with disabled people, talking to them about sexuality and sexual expression supporting people to actually lead the lives that most of us lead. It would seem that disabled people struggle a whole lot more because of prejudice and all that sort of stuff. So I can say within six industry, which can mean that I work with a variety of people from educational slight family planning through to people who do actually work in the sex industry, sex workers, Madams, etc. [00:00:52] Yeah. So you're saying that people often don't talk about sexuality and disability and kind of the same sentence? Why is that what are some of the, the blocks or the prejudices or stigmas around those two topics converging? [00:01:06] Probably degrees of deviancy. [00:01:10] If you're attracted to a disabled person, then either they're deviant or your deviant and your attraction to them. And which is as you know, I'm true. I mean, there's certainly disabled people who are deviant, simple identifies that, but I think in our society, we spend a lot of time trying to look for perfection within our sexualities and a few days, so if you step outside of Asia and present a different way, then that seems to be the predominant thing that people look at rather than the person so routine to call disabled people. Disabled people first off, or we call them clients or patients or so it's very a sexualized and all boys, some people don't even make it onto the spectrum don't even be referred to his bachelor's or Spencer's that just those those poor people. So there's lots of visibility. And I think it's all that fear. [00:02:14] So how did you get him into doing this stuff? [00:02:19] was waiting for HTC back in 1985. [00:02:25] And it was through my own sort of coming out process. I think that I realized that disabled people don't get to come out around the sexuality. And I've never understood why, through this group of people that are often described as caring and loving, and all that sort of stuff. Yeah, don't don't get to express the sexuality. So I went to a conference years ago. [00:02:54] And these two guys were doing a presentation [00:03:00] working with a young guy who is Down syndrome, who was a bit of a sexual offender. And they were getting him to dress up as The Karate Kid. And he came in and karate chop these two anatomically correct dolls, one who was abusing the other. And these guys, these therapists are doing a really great job and the idea of it was good, but kind of replacing one form of violence with another. And of course, this boy didn't stop being The Karate Kid when he left the room. So it got me thinking about the whole thing around have distortions all the assumptions you make around people's understanding of sexuality and [00:03:42] I guess have [00:03:46] been for that boy. [00:03:49] You know, perhaps he just didn't know about boundaries, understanding about his body and white stuff. Wasn't typical for him. People I was working with to heaven education about sexuality, they were referred to as people called service users, I think in those days or clients. So I just kind of went from there and I started actually a fantastic to work for because I could do a variety of jobs in Lynch to create a position where I was a relationships and sexuality advisor, which was thrown back in my face quite a few times from my partners when we'd be having disagreements. Because apparently, that means I knew everything about relationships. I'd like to stress it as an advisor not next. But in that role, I got to develop a relationships and sexuality policy which was a quite pioneering from New Zealand I thought that when I was given that task, I'll just go and cut and paste someone else's policy that would appear that they weren't in the in New Zealand and it's interesting that you even have to have a policy on sexuality and human service industry unique my but I'm so we created this policy, which took was supposed to be a years particular, it took five years. Just because it was a hugely emotional center. It was challenging for families, it was challenging for disabled people. But now it's been adopted by a place in New York, New York was almost copied, it [00:05:22] gets lower. [00:05:25] And other places now seeing the importance of having it because it creates some transparency and it means that you have to do something about sexuality. And really, it's just about acknowledging people's gender and who they are and how they stand in the world. It's not about putting people on tracks and singing to the local brothel to have sex it's not about this. It's about just being a bit human. [00:05:49] Cool. So you're Washington based but you're the work that you do as a national [00:05:53] did you grow up in Washington? No, [00:05:54] I grew up in Christchurch the Garden City and it [00:06:02] was a prestigious interesting place I'm afraid to call it the city of hate. [00:06:07] Grab that it's a pretty places it's Yeah, lovely garden. [00:06:13] I enjoyed growing up in Christchurch grew up in a great family and hit a very happy life. year and it was very ordinary very well. It was ordinary did a lot of week Pony Club and great Tony [00:06:27] cocktail. And did you come out while you were living at home? Or was it later? Oh, it [00:06:32] was later on I mean that I went to an all girls Catholic school so it was pretty likely something that's gonna [00:06:41] function in the stereotype. [00:06:45] No, it was great. It was great being taught by one name very dominant, powerful woman. Some of them had excelled and going to bed mood school. Yeah, anyway. [00:06:58] So yeah, I remember in my later years at school, someone suggesting I might at least be him. And [00:07:07] I was opposed it a negative thing, or just just a general suggestion, or [00:07:12] it was kind of like it was like been given to me as an option. [00:07:18] And I remember thinking on I don't want to be this far too obvious. like everyone's always been not going to be one. So I am, I think I spent a lot of time. Sorry, I was a sexual because I was always very interested in sexuality, but I didn't have a partner or a lover or anyone told us 25. So which would have pleased the nuns hugely, probably still in that state? I was asked to join the conference. is a career option. I'm glad you did. And I'm really glad that doesn't mind me because I have quite big here on the violin. Um, yeah. Yeah, no, it was, um, it was not going to be an option during the comment. My father did suggested when I came out, please, some, but I couldn't at least in the old days, I could have joined the convent. Which was an interesting insight into what he knew. [00:08:20] So you family sweet is with with you when you came out? Oh, no, no, you're right with you coming out. [00:08:26] Now, why did you kind of struggle with anything or you just got around to it? Or [00:08:34] I guess I told people and I did the whole thing of draping myself and all sorts of symbols and, you know, the woman's symbols hanging off my ear. And, you know, I keep saying I've tried to show people how you are more to get sort of validation, rather than, I don't think anyone came up and sort of congratulated me on now identifying as a lesbian, and I really wasn't least, I mean, I didn't know what to come out is. So that seems like a good title. Last Word. It's kind of a luscious. And now [00:09:10] and now. Do you identify [00:09:13] your identify as queer one? Yeah. [00:09:18] Yes, we can get some for was Jean de aqui. Even though my agenda isn't. I'm not planning to change my booth gender, identify as high theme, which, I think some woman center I'm trying to be superior to them, I'm probably on some level. But it kind of means for me, it's over female, it's about my trading is more about who I'm attracted to, which is masculine. But not biological mean. That's very fluid, I guess. I'm not attracted to biological woman is his patents. It's such but if they add a layer of masculinity on top of it, or anyone who's bothered to sort of know who they are, or look at the agenda, or whatever gets my attention. So I'm sorry. [00:10:17] I'll say hello. But I'll probably [00:10:20] so these kind of notions of fluid gender, and I guess, kind of different expressions of gender. Have you seen those change over, you know, over the last two years, five years, 10 years, or, [00:10:32] or even for myself? I mean, though, [00:10:35] I've probably hit three coming out. So the one the first one was being a lesbian, which was, it was exciting. It was a great days of melody. [00:10:50] What's the name? Judy, small music. And so moved on from this, too. [00:10:58] I mean, we're going out for dinner once with a couple of books, identifying people one in a woman who was female, and I was the is, it was kind of like, that just me I hate that on dating websites where people say, I'm not Butch or female. I'm just me, which I think is saying, I don't know as much judgments about people. But I was doing a bit of a just me phase. Anyway, I, we had a conversation about her at the table was what and Iran agreed at the table that I was female, and I was furious. I was just like, I am bloody No. Because I understood themed mean week in procedure can you know all the kind of stereotypes of what some people might see as femininity. And then it was one of those things where someone names the truth, and we were defeated. And so I took a lot of courage to step out of how I was because I don't always find the queer community very welcoming of gender types. So for me to be wearing skirts and wearing lipstick, and I wasn't a lipstick lesbian, I was identifying this theme. And others got a hold of power and courage when they faced be terrified of going to pubs and being around biological mean. Now going on with this news going on, I just didn't even notice that though. The year was very interesting, very important. I remember reading stuff about Butch theme stuff. And my sister who's my favorite sister ring, she's very straight. And I was reading Stephen crying, going, oh, I've just been reading about Butch and you know, sort of getting all political about gender. And she was kind of going, Yeah. It's nice. was having this big, simple political, the moment. So that was it. And then probably in the last five years, have looked have identified as high theme and it was just a move and terms of solidarity of where I stand. I don't know where I'll go from here. I wouldn't mind being a Drake. [00:13:19] Perhaps a training trains woman. [00:13:21] But um, yeah, I like I like that every time. I think I'm just settled, something else comes along. So so we can progress. So it hasn't changed. Yeah, forget his I think it's, even the number of trains, identify people in New Zealand has increased hugely in the way people are doing it. Today is really cool. It's not all about remember, in the 70s 80s of any man went on holiday to suddenly want to say, okay, go for the operation. Yeah, cuz I would leave us stay in and come back and Stephanie sort of thing. Now, people can be differently, they don't have to go suddenly, they can just sort of cruise around and identify who they like. So let's go. [00:14:09] Can you talk a little bit about, um, I guess, when you're coming up, or for the last however many years, that kind of pressure to conform or being judged, or whatever, and the LGBT our communities or communities and that kind of thing? And you also talked a little bit about notions of perfection, I think with with bodies and people with regards to everyone's sexualities, or just your ability to, to be a sexual person in the world. [00:14:38] Do you think that the, you know, queer communities [00:14:42] will be better accepting or more tolerant or more understanding of people with disabilities? What's been your experience with that? [00:14:51] Yeah, thanks. I think it's the types of people who do the work and human service or disability sectors and attracts people have different because I think I meet a lot of people who are transgenders, or queer or [00:15:08] Huggies, from a variety of backgrounds because [00:15:12] it's a diverse, so it's more likely that the disability sector as welcoming of queer people, I don't know if it's the other way around. I don't know what it would like be like, I mean, this is my stereotype, but to be disabled, gay men go to a nightclub, we can't sort of take your shoes off and sort of what if I called those muscles showing me your sort of Cashin and gorgeous you know, these those kinds of challenges. But I think it's all you know, it's all based on fears and we can kind of get scared of ourselves and who we are. I don't mind experience of the I can even remember all the leaders LGBT Hi. [00:16:07] We're community for those leaders. [00:16:12] My friend, [00:16:14] Philip Pittston, who's known in New Zealand, we hang out a lot end. For two years in a row we went to the launch of wasn't hero parade. But what he goes after the hero, first of all, was I think it was the launch of it and both transformation long and he couldn't give him and the first time you mean he couldn't get and there's no access? Yeah. So clearly, it just didn't know anyone in a wheelchair would be coming along. And after the first of each, Philip, and rightly so, you know, put on a complaint to someone who, you know, was sympathetic and kind of my god Shia? No, that's terrible. And the next year, they hit the end. And they the year that we complained, or Philip complained It was a late ground level, venue, but it was still really awkward to get on. So they they fixed it by having the venue next year and posted. So so he couldn't really couldn't go. And it's interesting, because it doesn't just mean that Philip Tiger means that I I can't go and I don't want to be as if I'm going to sell Outlook or GM. See what's going on can be can report, it's kind of like, you know, go to a restaurant and you have to go look what's in the kitchen. What can they can tell people, I wasn't going to be doing this. And it was just a really good example of how difference was on a different community is not considered in Yeah, I think notions of beauty and who's attractive. And certainly when disabled people identify as being queer, I get asked a lot to come on work with people who are disabled, who might be saying that they're gay, or lesbian, or transgender, or whatever, I've never been asked to come and work with someone who might be able to find the strength. So I was telling that thing of disbelief that those people and especially people, essentially, champions would really understand what it is to be queer or what do you understand what it was to be queer, I just know that I see a certain type of person and you know, parts of my body react differently or I feel good. All the time, you are just how you're you just me. But it's, it's some is Fatima is supported to disable people to start the transition around gender. And the Beatles, they have been monumental, it's amazing. Still, around, you know that endocrinologists sort of taking people on and off, or one woman trains woman on off your hormones, over a period of 20 plus years. And not in because she would see a different endocrinologist each time. She would be treated differently, there's no consistency in people didn't believe in because she didn't dress as a female, she wasn't believed to be a trans woman. Because it must be here until each 1pm making her do all this stuff. That's just rubbish. I don't know if that those experiences could be some of people that intellectual impairment, and it's probably the medical professionals on labels. But it seemed a whole lot harder. [00:19:46] So a lot of the work that you've done [00:19:49] around sexuality and disability, what have the response has been like? Can people get their heads around it? Or is it one of these things he you don't workshop in there like a call? [00:20:00] Everyone, it's kind of like that. Everyone can see the point of it. It's just like what to do about it, you know, becomes a problem. People talk about the issues around disability and sexuality. Disabled people don't have sexuality, they have issues with us. Whereas the rest of us get up and get on with your day sort of thing. And I think it is really challenging. It's a mindset thing about, you know, there's lots of discussion around vulnerability, talking with some professionals about this online recently. And the assumption is that, that disabled people are vulnerable. And there are some people who are, but the assumption was that being vulnerable is a negative thing. And effect when you're vulnerable, there's a whole lot of possibilities for really nice nurturing and closeness, that could happen. Because if you're not vulnerable, then you can let that part of your life can be overlooked. And, but a lot of what goes on in the disability sector, I've noticed over my 25 years of being a part of it, as it is about fear, that's the it's things like people now or some of the government agencies, these standards are things like when to say, Well, people have supported tips shells that support with us need to weaken boots, and aprons and gloves. So you know, you've almost got this kind of freezing, we're coming towards you to watch your body. And if a guy who's disabled talked about how the great thing about him going to see six workers that she didn't wear a glove, wearing the gloves when she touched them. And he found that incredibly exciting because everyone's always touched on the left touches body, they put gloves on. And they're going to catch cerebral palsy. So it's getting back to some of those basics at stage, getting rid of the fear, and just always swapping places and thinking, you know, if it was me on the street, table in the bathroom, having someone take my clothes off, how would I want it to happen, and enhancing the status of my gender and who I am or if you are really attracted to Susan Gina, that might be really embarrassing for you to have someone support your own using the toilets or whatever. It's thinking about those sorts of things. It's as more and more workshops, I try to get people to think about what they think about stuff, rather than tell them what they should be done. And it's, it usually means people have to be quite self analyzing their own behavior and their own sexuality, which of course raises a whole lot of issues that people suffer. [00:22:44] So what could queer communities or LGBT communities, what what could we think about? [00:22:51] Oh, well, in that some Philip. [00:22:59] Philip talks, you can visit Philip pistons websites here one would you like to look at WWW dot diversity in the code or indeed. And on there, Philip has got some links to some of his other websites. One of which is why species and Philip is moved on from the social model of disability and thinking in the social models all about this disabilities a social construct. So people have impairments, but when they get to a seat of city is that the launch of the festival, they become disabled, because they can't get upstairs. And it's because of the lack of thinking, which I guess in the everything that's organized now, everything that we do should expect that people have all sorts of diversity, you can come along once it's about, if you if you can't cater for that person's needs, that it's not panic, and it's not the fault. And that's not something that they have to fix. It's quite gracious, just to say, Yep, we really make that up next year, can you help us get it right? In talking to the people that actually have those experiences, as well. So Philip will talk about how we all have common experiences of the world. But there are some people that have unique experiences of it. So maybe within the LGBT [00:24:28] community that we would [00:24:33] look for, and invite uniqueness. and be prepared for it to come on many different shapes and forms and just be prepared to learn from, from everyone never going to get it right. You know, for me, sometimes there's a bigger woman coming along and sitting in a chair that his arms on the side of it. And I stand up in that chair store tissue. It's my my unique experience of it's not always about the big stuff. It's just about creating environments. And, and sometimes it's just about, it's about being nice to people. I find it really difficult when I go to Yeah, we're all we all go to an event because our commonality is about who we happen to sleep with. And sometimes people been just so friendly. And it's kind of like we're all competing for the same personal thing, or what I don't know. Yeah. And I guess it's hard when I went all the time. Why people know, but you know, it's just this all wee bit suspicious of each other. And I guess I remember when the lower form was coming through, but I think that there was something really good about being queer being against the law, I kind of wish it was still in a way. Because there is some power and being the underdog there some kind of unifying factor. I remember talking to someone on the line once on a pickup line didn't go too well. I was just dumb. She was saying to me, something about being marginalized. And I see it I actually quite like, it's because it gave me a sense of purpose and solidarity. And I didn't see it as a negative thing. I saw the and I quite like the fact that someone wants to marginalize me, they saw that I was different to them. And it was quite important to me, I don't want to be the same. And I think that's what I see happening in the communities. You know, I think it's great that people want to get married, but I wasn't able to go out and protest about the fact that I couldn't because I kind of like the fact that I couldn't feel because that made again made me have to think about what I really want him but I don't always have to hit the same rights as everyone else. For me, but I think it's important for other people. So and I think that's what's good about the disability sectors that still talk about a marginalized group that you know, we haven't really come a long way in terms of our thinking around [00:27:16] disability your uniqueness. [00:27:20] So it's a it's a very cool community to be a part of, because there are some amazing, amazing people with amazing resilience and insight into the world that just do this stuff and they don't have to have a parade or a festival about it. And I guess the disability acts as the emerging way that people who are activists are getting the message across which is really cool work done. [00:27:47] very peaceful [00:27:50] performances. [00:27:53] Seems like a very intelligent way of getting a message across. [00:28:02] Cool, fantastic. Thanks heaps for your time and for yawning with us.

This page features computer generated text of the source audio - it is not a transcript. The Artificial Intelligence Text is provided to help users when searching for keywords or phrases. The text has not been manually checked for accuracy against the original audio and will contain many errors.