A man who is “dating” a woman who is in the body of an eight-year-old girl has hit back at trolls who have called him “creepy”.
Dan Swygart, 26, and Shauna Rae Lesick, 23, have formed a “connection” after the couple started sharing messages on Instagram.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Dan hits back at haters
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Shauna, who stars in the US reality series I am Shauna Rae – which chronicles her life as a disabled woman – is just 116cm tall and weighs 22kg.
Her short stature is a side effect of the treatment she had for brain tumors as a child.
The treatment damaged her pituitary gland, leaving Shauna from Pennsylvania with a condition called pituitary dwarfism.
How did Dan and Shauna Rae meet?
Dan, a Brit, saw the show’s first season and was “inspired” by Shauna’s “emotional strength” so he sent her some flowers and a card that read “Go live your best life and wish you all the happiness that you deserve”.
He appeared on the second series of Shauna’s show – with the couple, who have had several dates together.
But while both are fully compatible adults, Dan has been blamed by people who wonder how he can be attracted to a woman who “looks like a kid.”
Dan says he knew he was “going to get some hate” as the couple’s relationship blossomed.
“It’s very important to remember that Shauna is an incredible 23-year-old woman who has a disability,” he said in an Instagram video.
“So when you connect with her, it’s important to acknowledge and look past her disability and build her up with who she is as an individual.
“She’s this incredible, inspiring 23-year-old woman who just so happens to be a little short. And as soon as you say she can’t have a real connection with anyone else, you’re dehumanizing her, which is absolutely gross.
“She is human. She deserves to have relationships and connections with whoever she wants. And I think some people aren’t emotionally mature enough to understand that you can build a deep connection that’s based on personality, not just looks.”
Now Dan has come up with an even stronger response to haters in a new video shared to Instagram.
“Me and Shauna are still just good friends, we’re getting to know each other, but I absolutely disgust the way some people have attitudes,” he said.
“She’s been through so much in her life. She survived cancer as a child, she always felt different and treated differently by society, but how dare you take away her right, her human right, to have a connection, a friendship, a relationship with someone else?
“Who are you to say she can’t have that?” Dan continued.
“I’m absolutely disgusted with the attitude of some people towards her and my friendship with her. I can’t believe some people who deny her the right to be friends or connect with someone else.
“How dare you? How dare you?”
Despite the excitement surrounding his relationship with Shauna, Dan said he has been contacted by many people with disabilities who have thanked him for raising the issue.
“It has given so many people hope that despite being different, they can also find an amazing friendship and connection with someone,” he concluded.
Social media is reacting
Dan fans were quick to flood his social media page with messages of support.
“Some people have no life but to sit and be hateful! … [Shauna] was not born that way, nor asked to be. She is an amazing person inside and out. what does size have to do with anything honestly?” wrote one supporter.
“It doesn’t! Like you said she’s been through so much but guess what’s still pushing her forward!!! I cheer for you all, I really hope it goes far!”
“Shauna and her family are such a fun/loving/supportive family. I know your father personally!” wrote another viewer.
“What you see on TV is who you are in real life. Having your friendship, be it romantic or otherwise, is proof to the world that anyone can have that connection, despite the “norms” set by a narrow-minded society. More power to you, Dan.
“I don’t even watch the show, I followed you because I saw some of the backlash,” a third person interjected.
“I think people are worried that maybe you don’t have good intentions. They express concern for her, but I think that’s condescending.
“Shauna is grown up and I’m sure she’s not stupid. If you make each other happy, whatever is good for both of you.”
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https://7news.com.au/lifestyle/relationships/man-26-dating-woman-trapped-in-eight-year-olds-body-hits-out-amid-furore-how-dare-you-c-9531007 I’m Shauna Rae: male, 26, ‘dating’ female trapped in body of 8 year old, thrashes in turmoil