'I was striking out on every dating app. So I decided to hire a male sex worker.'

As told to Dilvin Yasa.

University graduate Amy Calladine, 32, has cerebral palsy and Hashimoto’s disease. Here, she reveals why she decided to book a sex worker for a night of intimacy.

I’ve been aware of how my body sits in relation to others for as long as I can remember. 

In high school, I got around in a motorised wheelchair – a huge hulking bit of metal. While it was great for navigating school, it also gave me a disquieting sense of physical isolation from my peers. While my friends had begun having boyfriends and enjoying physical affection, I couldn’t help but wonder what intimacy was going to look like for me when the time came – if at all.

I’ve enjoyed a handful of relationships over the years, but dating when you’re someone with a disability isn’t easy. Physical safety is always on my mind. I use a wheelchair full-time and I live alone, so I’m acutely aware that if I brought someone home and things were to take a bad turn, I wouldn’t be able to get myself to safety. 

While you're here, learn more about sexuality and dating for someone with a disability. Post continues after video.

Video via AMAZE Org.

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability in 2021 found that women with disability are twice as likely to experience sexual violence in the course of a year than women without disability. And, from the age of 15, 46 per cent of women with cognitive disability and 50 per cent of women with psychological disability have experienced sexual violence (compared to 16 per cent of women without disability).


Safety isn’t the only issue that comes into play. Online, people with disability are often infantilised or fetishised. A lot of men I connect with are super curious about my disability, and it’s the only thing they want to talk about (which is a red flag). Others might express amazement that I am dating at all. To some men, I’m nothing more than a 'slut on wheels'. It’s the Madonna/whore complex with a twist of ableism thrown in. Exhausting, to say the least.

With these barriers in mind, I decided to hire a sex worker to enjoy a night of intimacy. 

I’ve always seen sex work as real work, especially when it comes to people with disability being able to experience loving touch and human connection – a rarity, since so much of the touch we experience is in the context of care work and is purely medical in nature. Sex work allows us to take charge of our own bodies and sexual expression in a safe and controlled environment, with people who are often marginalised themselves.

I told my mum about my plans to hire a sex worker, and she said, “Hell, yeah! Go for it!” 

Image: Supplied.


Touching Base is a Sydney-based organisation that connects people with disability to sex workers. They also train sex workers on how best to interact with people with disability. This means you’re less likely to be turned away (it happens), and that you’ll find someone who’s willing, experienced and trained in inclusive sex practices. 

That said, Touching Base had only two male sex workers when I enquired, both of whom were over the age of 40 (most of Touching Base’s clients are men seeking female sex workers). So I ended up going through a private escort agency, paying $700 for a two-hour date with a guy I thought was hot: someone well-dressed with a deep tan and big blue eyes.

We texted and voice-messaged each other in the lead-up to our session. As we flirted and got to know each other, my nervousness turned into excitement. I said I was open to things getting hot and heavy, but preferred to take things slow, starting with some cuddling and seeing how things went from there.

Imagine my surprise, then, when he showed up and within five minutes I realised I wasn’t attracted to him! Something about his manner and sense of humour wasn’t my cup of tea, although he was very professional and made me feel safe. 


I tried talking myself into it, but I just wasn’t into it, so we spent our time sitting on the couch chatting, drinking wine and eating cheese. It was nice, but not the sexy, flirty time I had hoped for. As we neared the end of our two hours together, he leaned in for a cuddle, but I kept leaning further and further away… and that was the end of that!

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Would I hire a sex worker again? Absolutely. But next time, I will insist on meeting for a coffee beforehand so I can properly gauge our chemistry.

The cost itself can be a huge barrier. In 2021, Australia’s Federal Court ruled that people with disabilities can use a portion of their National Disability Insurance Scheme funds to access specialised sex worker services, but we’ve yet to see this come into effect on a wider scale. In the Netherlands, people with disability are able to access to up to 12 subsidised sessions with a sex worker per year, so Australia still has a long way to go in terms of seeing sex work as a legitimate need for people with disabilities. 

Sex is intrinsic to knowing yourself as a fully realised person, and to be denied that through ableist policy or circumstances outside of our control is frankly outrageous. We’re all sexual beings.

Amy Calladine appears in the episode Access All Areas Dating in the new season of The Swiping Game, which features people with disability talking frankly about their experiences of sex and dating. The series is available now on SBS On Demand.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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