How sick and twisted is this definition? Plainly put, if you are attracted to me then you are sick and perverted! You are categorized by the psychiatric community as a sexual deviant. You are the dreaded devotee. According to them finding a woman with a disability sexy is deviant. Great! I feel so good about myself already.

Am I so hideously revolting and deformed that anyone who is attracted to me must be sick? What kind of perverted psychiatric reasoning is that? I don't know about you, but I refuse to allow that sort of backward thinking to contaminate my view of myself.

At first glance it's understandable that some people may have a problem with me based on their stereotypical concept of people with disabilities. Society in general sees us as asexual, with an implication that any interaction with us on that level is inherently wrong. Deviant in fact! This sad little fact is just one reason why the whole topic is taboo. This leaves me with one question: is a person who wants to be with me a deviant by definition?

When I first heard about devotees, I was traumatized. The thought of someone being attracted to me because of my disability made me very anxious, and for the longest time, I couldn't figure out why. I finally came to realize that it came down to a strange sense of personal affront.

How dare anyone think my disability is sexy? How dare anyone presume to get something good from my situation? Who the hell are they to get off on my tragedy and do it so openly? And without my permission? I found the same resentment in other disabled women who knew about devotees which led me to believe that these people really were quite sick. Why else would everyone be so upset? Then I had my first interaction with a devotee! All I could think was “manipulative” sick bastard who is desperate for a woman and has failed in the real world and now wants to take advantage of a vulnerable woman on a wheelchair.

Well, your perverse psychology isn’t going to work with me.  Then I realized what I was doing. I was enforcing the stereotype that says I am not as good as anyone else. So, I engaged with my devotee and researched on the internet to learn more about the phenomenon. The reasons for the misconceptions soon became clear.

An internet search for "devotees" brings up a few studies which mostly combine disability devotees with known psychiatric disorders, implying that devotees are mentally ill. The concluding arguments disgusted me implying - if the attraction is indeed an illness - that there’s something wrong with us.

My inquisitive inner self wouldn’t let me put this subject to bed so I decided to get a better understanding and to my excitement i found out how this “illness” is broken down.

Interesting! Wannabes, Pretenders, Fetishists and Devotees. The plot thickens!

Wannabes actually want to have a disability and some will even go to the extreme of causing their own injuries. These people have a body image disorder and they feel unfulfilled until they have the desired disability.

Pretenders play at being disabled, mostly for sexual gratification, riding around in wheelchairs, binding limbs to appear as though they're amputated, buying and wearing orthotic devices and crutches. They want all the accessories of the disability world, without the day to day reality.

Fetishists are only able to function when a specific set of circumstances are met. Residual limb lengths, number of amputations, certain levels of paralysis, high heels etc. - each one has his or her own basic requirement for enjoyment.

Devotees are initially attracted to the disability, but liken it to breast size, eye colour or other physical attributes. Disability is an attraction trigger, but it's not a requirement for a relationship.

So who are these people? Some are extremely well-known personalities. Are they all freaks? Of course not. Should we be aware? Of course. Should we freak out when someone says they think we're cute because we've got attributes that make us different? No.

On one hand, we're attractive. On the other hand, if anyone thinks we are attractive, they're sick. The signals are clearly crossed and the messages are so mixed that everyone seems lost. Devotees are freaks. Devotees aren't freaks. We're okay, they're not okay. Who's right and who’s sick?