Shanna Katz

Shanna Katz

Everything you need to know about address disabilities in a partner with expert Shanna Katz

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1:00 Announcements and Host Chat

10:50 Interview: Poly and disabilities

Shanna Katz is a professional pervert with a Masters in Sex Education specializing in sex with disabilities with books on cunnilingus, lesbian sex positions and a women’s sexuality guide.

What you need to know about people with disabilities:

  • Over 20% of the US population has some type of disability, some of which might not be readily visible
  • Ask before you help/ask how you can help rather than just helping
  • Base your level of disclosure about your disability on level of the relationship
  • keep-calm-and-save-spoons-2Don’t offer unsolicited health advice about a condition you don’t have or assume that your experience with a similar condition applies
  • Understand and apply spoon theory
  • If you’re able-bodied, ask “is there anything I need to know about your help to be a better partner to you?”
  • Understand that the person with disabilities might not be able to express what he/she needs right away. If that’s the case, just offer to be there when the person needs something and let him/her initiate the request.
  • Don’t try to fix the person’s disability

Find her at or email her at

41:30 Wrap Up

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Commenting area

  1. William Spencer November 27, 2014 at 3:28 pm · ·

    First i want to say thanks for the over all topic. As someone who works with a lot of diversity the conversation as value for a lot of people.

    I however do want to share something with you related to the word primary. The following is something i wrote about 10 months ago after listening to you talk about your relationship with Grey Dancer. Listening to you share your relationship i was able to see how different my personal veiw of relationships was different then my partners.

    Kinds of Primary/secondary relationships.

    In the last few years I have seen a lot of discussions on the idea of primary and secondary. The things these conversations tend to have in common is that individuals are trying to narrow down the definition of the words to help them use it as a communication tool with others or to simply define their place in their relationships.

    This goal is often meet with disgruntled responses and confusing information as the words have a great deal of controversy related to their use in polyamory. Part of the problem is the term primary, if used at all, is used to mean very different and sometimes overlapping ideas. As such the term secondary is shaded by the understanding of the term primary.

    Primary can be used in the following five ways as I see it. I would love to hear of any others that people can think of.

    Self … I am my primary relationship … Relationship that places the individual as their own primary focus. Other relationships are seen as secondary, ext. This is also defined as solo poly.

    Structural integration …. I live with my primary(primaries) … integration of household structure including finances and belongings. This is seen when people living together sharing the cost of bills and other costs of living. Primary partners would be based on who an individual lives with within the home and how structurally invested they are in each other.
    A secondary relationship would have less integration but could range in different degrees where the individual would define points at which partners would be seen as more integrated than others. This can be seen in monogamous relationships with labels such as friends with benefits, boyfriend/girlfriend, significant others, or husband/wife were each relationship is seen as being more integrated with expectations related to security and long term investments.

    Emotional integration … My love is primary in my heart … The level of emotional investment one person has placed on another defines who is seen as a primary. This form of the use of the word primary is more about feelings and long term emotional bonds between individuals. Partners can have very different living arrangements but still be seen as a primary partner(s).
    A secondary relationship could look very different where the individual may be living with a secondary while being more emotionally invested to someone they may have little structural ties to. In monogamy this kind of relationship can be seen in a couple who stay together because of children but may have a close emotional relationship with a friend that they share their most intimate feelings with.

    Systematic integration … Mommy is Daddy’s primary and they care for the little ones … head of household, ranking of title (mommy over little). This form of the use of the word primary is seen in groups that have a structure that place one person over another based on roles within the relationship. This structure is seen in religious groups and alternative sexuality groups such as BDSM.
    A secondary relationship can take on a wide range of appearances either set by social expectations or by the needs of the group. These relationships can be based on a wide range of needs and can look very different from each other.

    Ordinal integration … We are each others primary and our third is our secondary … first slave (BDSM), first partner, wife/husband. This form is often seen as the least favorable of the use of the term by many polyamous people as it places one love before another when many people see them as just being different from each other. This form is also common with new couples coming into the poly community seeking information where they negotiate out a ranking to place the couples relationship above others.
    Secondary relationships often are any relationship outside of the primary relationship. These relationship as negotiated are expected to be ended if they risk the primary relationship. This expectation is seen as a negative by many polyamorous people.

    I see developing this wider set of definitions can allow use as a community, as well as individuals, to be able to communicate what we expect from those we define as primary.

    I know that when my primary partner is using the term primary she is using more of an emotional integration definition. While I use more of a structural integration definition when saying primary. This has led to some confusion when she labeled her partner who lived a state away as primary early in our relationship. I could not understand how a person she seen every few weekends could be the same kind of relationship as we had. We lived in the same home and had a degree of dependence on each other for our day to day life. For me this structure helped define our relationship. In discovering how she understood her relationships with others I was able to understand what she valued in her relationships. For her the emotional bonds she holds with others define her relationships. Understanding this difference not only improved our communication but also our relationship as I was able to understand her more as an individual with different values and expectations related to her relationships then I have of my own.

    As a counselor in training I also see these differences needing to be understood by other councilors hoping to work with poly relationship dynamics. For someone not directly involved in the relationship the only tools we have to understand the relationship is the words used by the client. The reality that primary is used to reflect so many different ideas within polyamory it can lead to confusion in both the relationships of clients as well as with the relationship with professional.

    As such I was hoping to hear from others on my definitions and see if we can expand on and improve this communication tool.

  2. Snatch Licker November 29, 2014 at 9:43 pm · ·

    “If you’re able-bodied, ask “is there anything I need to know about your help to be a better partner to you?””

    I assume “help” should be “health?”
    These are the kinds of mistakes that I find so infuriating with Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Still worse, the more you try to correct the transliteration, the wider afield Dragon gets.

    A number of people with disabilities find speech difficult. It is very important that you listen carefully when they do say something. If you don’t understand, or didn’t catch what they said, it may be better to ask, “is this what you wanted?” or an appropriate similar question rather than ask them to repeat themselves. If they can respond with a head no or simple, “Yes” they may find the whole situation much less frustrating.

  3. Steven Gonzalvez December 10, 2014 at 1:55 pm · ·

    And let us not forget the famous medical principle, just in case: DO NO HARM.

  4. crypticgimp December 22, 2014 at 7:19 pm · ·

    I feel like this was both a missed opportunity and a timid but good start. It did feel more geared towards ABs (able bodied people). I often feel that my life as a disabled black person is greatly interconnected with being solo poly. It’d be great to have a podcast on that type of intersectionality! Same goes with disability and kink. definitely room for more! but good start!

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