Doing gender and sexuality through experiences of illness and aging: between dominant and counter-discourses


  • Mara Pieri University of Coimbra, Portugal
  • Raffaella Ferrero Camoletto University of Turin, Italy



The article investigates the intersection of doing gender and sexuality within chronic conditions and aging, adopting an analytical framework that mixes different theoretical approaches (Crip theory and Disability studies, Gender studies and Ageing studies).
The empirical basis derives from two different research projects: the first one analysed the experiences of young adults LGBTQ+ with chronic illness through 24 narrative interviews carried out in Italy and Portugal; the second investigated discourses and practices related to sexuality and aging through in-depth interviews with Italian women aged 50+. For the reflection elaborated in this article, in both researches it was decided to focus only on the sub-sample of interviews made in Italy to cisgender women and non-binary people (8 in the first, 15 in the second research). The article interrogates this empirical material with the aim of understanding to what extent, and according to what modalities, situations of chronic illness or psycho-physical conditions related to aging, are perceived, adhering to a medicalizing framework, as desexualizing; and whether instead forms of redefinition, reworking and renegotiation of their sexual experience at the level of desire and practices are activated.

Keywords: gender, illness, aging, disability, sexuality.