The world of sex toys can seem both daring and daunting. For the uninitiated, the sex toy industrial complex can come across as a little pushy, slightly furtive, and hella hedonistic.
Hedonism is actually the good part, because, pleasure. Many of the recent crop of sex toys are aimed at closing the orgasm gap, particularly for vulva owners, designed to enhance sexual satisfaction through increasingly sophisticated technology.
Yet in all the excitement of daring greatly, it’s easy to overlook that the sex toy world can be weirdly binarized. Color-coded toys to correspond to gender. Sex accessories with names like the “dicktator” or the “womanizer.” As Amy Boyajian, the CEO of the genderless sexual wellness store Wild Flower puts it, the men’s and women’s section of online sex retailers feel non-inclusive and needlessly restrictive—especially for trans and non-binary folk. “The male toys are black and dark blue and super manly,” says Boyajian, “and women’s toys are always pink, pretty, and feminine.” When you take gender out of the equation, everybody can find more freedom, she adds.
“We all have the same parts, just arranged a little differently”
In the womb, the labia and the scrotum come from the same skin. In other words, the different genitalia of male and female fetuses develop from the same tissues in the embryo. “Our bodies are more similar than we think—and they can enjoy the same toys, for the most part,” says Boyajian.
Reiterating old-fashioned gender norms isn’t the only thing standing in the way of sex toy progress. While sex toys can be a tantalizing source of sexual liberation for many, they can also be a grievous disappointment for the disabled, aging, and plus-sized populations. And perhaps more than anyone, people with mobility challenges or physical differences are left out of the sex toy conversation. Even though sex is considered a basic human right, it’s almost taboo for the disabled to have any kind of sex life.
Case in point: If it weren’t for a chance conversation Toronto-based Andrew Gurza had with his sister, the world’s first accessible sex toy may not currently be in production. Gurza, a gay “disability awareness consultant” who hosts the sexy Disability After Dark podcast and who organized Toronto’s first-ever orgy for disabled people never felt compelled to talk about his masturbatory habits with his sister, Heather Morrison. Then, one day he shared that he’d given up on masturbation because of hand mobility issues.
In 2017, Morrison saw Gurza’s documentary “Picture This” when it premiered in Australia. “In the film, I talked about how I lost the ability to masturbate due to the physicality of my cerebral palsy in my hands,” says Gurza. It sent him spiraling into depression.
A few months after Morrison watched the movie, she asked he brother why he couldn’t just get a toy from a store. “I said none of the toys from the store work for my hands,” says Gurza. “The buttons are too small; I can’t access the toy.” At the end of that conversation, Morrison asked her brother if he wanted to make a toy. “I gave her the side-eye,” he says with a laugh. “Did I want to make a sex toy with my sister? I don’t know. I don’t know if that’s a thing.”
Gurza disseminated a Reddit survey to see if this was something the disabled community wanted. Was it a problem for Gurza—or for everyone? It turned out to be a problem for everyone. Of the 100 people he surveyed, 92 percent wanted an accessible sex toy. Traditional sex toys prove difficult to maneuver for a wide swatch of people, including the obese, the arthritic, those with limited range of movement, the aging, as well as the non-binary and gender fluid.
So, Gurza and his sister got to work. Their sex toy, the bump’n joystick is now available for preorder. It’s essentially a huggable holster for any sex toy you can imagine. This gives people the independence to masturbate in privacy, rather than have an aid set them up with a toy and then come back to turn or take it off when the person is done. (Talk about a buzz kill.) The toy, designed by sex therapists, occupational therapists, and the disabled, addresses hand limitations, fine motor skills restrictions, and other mobility issues. And its gender-fluid design adapts to all gender expressions—with different angles and different-sized holes for a variety of toys and anatomy.
Gurza’s joystick is a landmark for inclusive sex toys, but there are many other toys on the market that can be turned into assistive technology. The last decade has witnessed a new wave of sex-tech startups diversifying toys that combine beauty, accessibility, and function, in a range of colors, shapes, and textures. Whatever your body set-up or limitation, there’s probably a sex toy for that—or at least one that you can preorder.
Whether you’re into vibrating, pulsing, massaging, stroking, flicking, sucking, remote-control operated, hands-free, waterproof, or wearable, pleasure begins with access. Access to the expansive, liberating quality that touch and orgasm can impart is a fundamental human right.
The following sex toys work hard to make the pursuit of pleasure come easy.
Genderless sex toys
Gender-neutral sex toys are ergonomically sculpted to pleasure any and all body types. This translates as a major win for everyone, but especially for trans and gender-nonconforming people.
Try: Wildflower, a leading sexual wellness brand that creates a safe space for sexual exploration, created the first of its kind inclusive sex toy called Enby. It’s designed to fit all kinds of bodies. The name Enby comes from the acronym NB, short for non-binary, and the vibrator’s abstracted shape and open-ended functionality can accommodate non-conforming bodies and genders as well as the able-bodied and cis-gendered.
The design, reminiscent of a mermaid fin, has flexible sides that allow it to curve around itself, fingers, or a variety of genitalia. The curved bump of the vibrator is also flexible, making it easy to use in different positions. Its versatility is its superpower. As the website says, “Hump it, rub on it, tuck it in a harness, or put it between two bodies.”
Flexible sex toys
Flexible sex toys are a great option for plus-sized bodies and bodies with restricted mobility. They can bend to fit your body, mold into a preferred shape, then hold the shape so you can give your hands a break.
Try: Billed as the world’s most flexible vibrator, the Mystery Vibe Crescendo 2 is designed to mimic your fingers. Its unique flexibility means you can bend it to fit your body (it can be adjusted for clitoral, G-spot, and perineum stimulation), whatever your size, and it works extremely well for couple play. The crescendo can also be controlled through an app, another plus for those with hand mobility struggles.
Wand toys can be great for people with mobility issues. Their long handle, large head, and large buttons mean you don’t need pinpoint accuracy.
Try: Dame’s Com is an external wand vibrator that comes with a powerful motor and an easy-to-grasp curved handle. It’s an ergonomic take on a wand massager; its flexible neck lets you rest your arm while still holding it at the perfect angle.
A sex toy that can be put in place and then used without hands is a huge asset for those with limited mobility. These kinds of toys leverage the motion you do have for maximum effect. For those with a vulva, vibrators that can be slipped into your underwear so it stays in place are a boon.
Try: The gender-inclusive sex toy company Cute Little Fuckers makes a star-shaped external vibrator, called the Starsi, that’s easy to hold and put in place. It’s also one of the few toys geared toward those with genital dysmorphia. According to their website, “Transfemme users with genital dysphoria tend to enjoy Starsi for its ability to cover genitalia with a gently curved vulva-like feel, allowing us to map new genitalia and euphoria in our own mind.”
Bonus try: For penis owners, the sex toy company Hot Octopuss makes a vibrating penis masturbator (a.k.a. a guybrator), called the Pulse, which can be used when the penis is either flaccid or erect. It was developed intentionally to be useful to disabled people, specifically people with limited mobility and erectile dysfunction. The Pulse comes in two versions, a Solo version that’s just a masturbator and a Duo version with a second set of vibrations on the outer side so the toy can be enjoyed by a partner.
Finger vibrators that you can turn on, strap in, and let loose are a godsend for people with hand issues, such as arthritis.
Try: Dame’s Fin Vibrator is easy to hold thanks to two grooves that go between your two fingers and an optional detachable tether. Grooved or tied to your hand, it feels like a natural extension of your body.
Read More: How I Learned to Reclaim Erotic Pleasure
In addition to these sex toys, there are sex accessories to know about:
Pillows and wedges
Sexual positioning aids are wonderful for anyone who has trouble getting into, or sustaining, certain sexual positions.
Try: The company Liberator produces an array of positioning aid pillows like the Wedge and Ramp, which can also be combined. They’re firmer than regular pillows, feature an inner moisture barrier lining, and are designed specifically to make sex positioning easier.
Sex swings or a yoga swing can be a game-changing option for people with a variety of different mobility and fatigue issues. They can allow for much more movement and take the weight off joints and limbs during partnered sex. There’s also a whole world of sex furniture, with some options designed specifically for wheelchair users, such as Living Spinal’s IntimateRider Sex Chair.
Try: Yoga4You Aerial Yoga Swing Set, a yoga hammock swing, which can help get you into supportive yet stable positions and is ideal for all kinds of sexual and ergonomic explorations.
Sex toy mounts and pillows
Pillows and mounts that you can place a sex toy inside allow those with hand restrictions and other mobility issues to go on a wild, hands-free ride.
Try: Liberator’s sex toy mounts, which are rideable cushions that allow for hands-free use of toys such as vibrators, dildos, and strokers.
Some disabilities and health conditions, such as spinal injury, erectile dysfunction, genital difference, or mobility impairments, can make unassisted penetration difficult or impossible. That’s when a strap-on harness can become effective assistive technology. Harnesses can be worn over the penis, over the vulva, or even over the hand as a gripping aid.
Try: A thigh harness, like the one from Sportsheets, is a versatile tool for many different disabilities. Just pop a dildo in it and strap it to a thigh for a partner to ride. Or, because it’s so adjustable, you can be creative with where on the body you strap it, allowing for an array of different position possibilities that suit different kinds of mobility. It can also be wrapped around a pillow to hold a dildo in place for masturbation.
The safe suction base means you can safely get down to business with placement on walls, tubs, doors, and floors and attach a compatible sex toy.
Try: Tantus sells suction cups that let you turn your preferred toy into a sturdy stationary toy. They also offer a range of toys with built-in suction.
For people who struggle with incontinence—or for those who like to use a lot of lube, which can stain—waterproof blankets make a great addition to your sex accessories. They can be thrown over the bed or sofa to save your mattress and bedding from any wayward fluids.
Try: Liberator Fascinator Throw is a plush blanket with a special lining designed to soak up liquids and an inner moisture barrier to protect your bedding.
Finally, remember to get creative with sex toys. Make sure you read what body parts they are safe for, but after that, have it. Let your pleasure be deliciously polymorphous. Go forth and explore the uncharted erroneous zones of your body and your partner(s). And don’t forget that any assistive technology, such as bars or a shower chair, can usually be repurposed as a sex aid.