Dating for disabled


Seven years ago, Stephanie Dixon, the 17-time Paralympic medallist who was widely considered to be one of the best female swimmers in the world, appeared on billboards across the country.In the ad, Dixon, then 26, exudes confidence and defiance in a black one-piece suit: her eyebrow is cocked, her arms are crossed, and her biceps look cut as she poses next to a slogan that reads, “She doesn’t want your sympathy.But her opponents might.” Dixon stands tall and elegant against the stark white backdrop, her left leg muscular and shapely.Her right leg is missing, because she was born a congenital amputee.“It looks like I was designed to have one leg, like a mermaid’s body,” she says.



Growing up in Brampton, Ont., Dixon’s sex education came entirely from friends (and one incident where, at her mom’s insistence, she and her older brother practiced rolling condoms onto bananas).As a swimmer, she’d gotten used to using tampons at an early age.But accessing the world of dating and sex felt terrifying.In high school, Dixon wore her prosthetic leg under jeans every day to fit in, but it wasn’t until she was 15, and began competing in Paralympic competitions—where everyone was contending with some type of challenge—that she felt comfortable getting her flirt on.

Still, that confidence didn’t translate to her day-to-day life outside the pool.

By 19, she’d fallen into a pattern of only making out with men when she was drunk.