Gender, Sexuality, and Disability
Ideologies of disability and the body intersected with ideologies of gender and sexuality to define the identities of not only people with disabilities but also nondisabled persons. In an era when gender ideologies and identities were in flux, telethon framings of disability implicitly tried to stabilize traditional conceptions of heterosexual masculinity and femininity in two ways. Consistent with the charity tradition, telethons contrasted disabled people—especially children—with nondisabled adult male and female benefactors who embodied dominant standards. At the same time, the agendas of cure or rehabilitation tacitly promised to make disabled children into suitable adult women and men and to ensure disabled adults of normal, which was to say normative, gender roles and identities. Meanwhile, many people with disabilities battled social prejudice in their efforts to fashion positive gender and sexual identities.
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