Posted by: Shula Asher Silberstein | 31 July 2010

I Mean It: I’m Asexual

It’s been a while since I wrote in this blog. We were in New York last week visiting family for my birthday. Gavi can tell the story on her blog if she wishes of how easy it was to get through airpot security, how, contrary to popular belief, no one cared that she chose to dress and act as herself even though her ID claims she is male, how no-one in New York thought she was anything other than the woman she is.

In the meantime, I have something else on my mind. For once, I want to write, not about trans issues but about asexual issues. Because, you see, that hasn’t changed. I am still asexual.

I am sick and tired of people thinking I’m not really asexual. For some reason there seems to be a trend among psychologists to deny that I am what I say I am. In this way, more than any other, I feel allied with the Trans community. I’m gender neutral, not Transgender, but I understand the frustration when the world insists you are something other than what you know you are.

But I digress. I specifically am upset because of two separate incidents.

First, I got my official report about a month ago confirming that I have Aspergers’ Syndrome. Among other things, the report states, “She says that she is ‘asexual’ and does not have sexual feelings.” I am irritated, perhaps unfairly so, with the scare marks around the word “asexual”. It seems to me that the psychologist who wrote it is saying that I’m not really asexual, I just think I am because I have Autism and so therefore don’t understand or recognize my sexual feelings.

I don’t just consider myself asexual. I am asexual.

A couple of days ago, I was talking to my counselor. I mentioned that I sometimes feel awkward around my friends, many of whom are very sexual, because of my asexuality. I don’t know how to relate sometimes when people are feeling deep desires to have sex or have desire for strangers at bars or whatever. I’ve never felt those things so I don’t know what to say or do when my sexual friends suffer because of lack of sex, to put it bluntly.

So I told my therapist this and her first response was, “Have you had your hormones checked?”

I can’t express how frustrating this question is. First of all, my hormones are not the reason I am asexual. I have PolyCystic Ovary Syndrome, which in some ways makes me intersexed…I have higher than average testosterone and lower than average estrogen. But that is NOT why I am asexual.

My sister has it too and she is not at all asexual, plus asexuality goes deeper than whether you have a hormonal reaction to other people. It is an entirely different orientation, not merely a lack of interest in sexual activity but a life-long lack of sexual desire. I have never had a sexual feeling in my life and never will. That’s just how it is.

Anyway, so I said, “We’ve been down this road before. My hormones are fine. I am asexual.”

She said, “Do you have feelings of sexual desire when you’re around someone you care about?”

What kind of ridiculous question is THAT? First of all, if I DID I wouldn’t call myself asexual, now would I? Last I checked, asexual means not having sexual feelings, not “not having sexual feelings unless I really really like someone.” Secondly, I’m GLAD I don’t have sexual feelings all of a sudden when I’m around people I care about. Gavi is probably the person I care most about and I think it would really mess up our relationship if I suddenly had sexual feelings around her, considering that we treat each other as family. Since I’m panromantic, it seems to me also that if I suddenly had sexual feelings around people I cared about, I’d have the same problems as my very sexual friends since I’d have a sex drive that would reappear every time I was around a friend of either gender that I was attracted to.

“No,” I said, “I’m asexual.”

It’s bad enough that I have to explain this over and over to people in my daily life. It’s bad enough that I have to put up with jokes about how asexuals are people who like to masturbate a lot (because apparently asexual = having sex with yourself in some people’s minds) and dates where dumbasses ask me if I’ve ever had an orgasm. It’s bad enough many people don’t even want to try dating me because they want to have sex and think that the fact that I have no sexual desire means that I would be totally unwilling to do anything to please them if 13532 years in the future we decided to commit to each other. I should NOT have to defend myself to psychologists. Psychologists are supposed to accept you as you are, not try to influence you to believe bigoted crap about yourself and question your identity.

So let me make this clear to anyone who is reading this and would like to analyze me: I. am. asexual. This means that I do not have sexual desire or a sex drive. It means that my desire for a romantic relationship is a desire for an emotionally close relationship that does not include sex. There is nothing wrong with me. I am not afraid of sex, I don’t have deep seated guilt about sexual feelings, I don’t need help to identify sexual feelings that I am unaware of.

Asexuality is a real phenomenon. Check out http://www.asexuality.org if you haven’t heard of it.

And stop trying to change me, because that’s counter-productive.

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Responses

  1. I think, if you can get it, you need a new psychologist.

    When I last saw a therapist, I was not aware when we started that she was one who A. Believes people are always heterosexual and B. those who say they aren’t are just experimenting. It was very very frustrating to find out near the end of our sessions that her questions about my relationship with another woman were only because “[I] was acting out as a teenager.” Rrrr. Good thing I never told her my gender identity issues (I’m not sure Gender-neutral would describe me, I wish there was a third choice that was neither gender nor in the middle… Though I do like to dress as a woman.)

    I have one distant (in locale, not in my heart) friend who is asexual, and any psychologist who says otherwise needs to go back to school.

    I wish you well in your romantic endeavors. Any future partner will be lucky to have you.

  2. Thank you for posting this! Coming out for asexuals is especially important because the more of us who come out, the less likely that in the future people will misunderstand asexuality. And it’s difficult for us now…all these people, even friends and family, telling us we’re “repressed” or mistaken, or that something’s “wrong” with us…But if we keep it up, sooner or later people will realize that asexuality IS a legitimate sexual orientation. Good luck!!

  3. I can relate to some of wha tyou say, but at the same time, I can understand your Asperger’s diagnosing psychologist’s comment. I, for one, have not figured out my sexual orientation yet, and it is precisely because I don’t recognize sexual feelings a lot of the time. This is a real possibility with Asperger’s. Of course, it is still disrespectufl of your psychologist to question your identity.

  4. “I am sick and tired of people thinking I’m not really asexual. For some reason there seems to be a trend among psychologists to deny that I am what I say I am. In this way, more than any other, I feel allied with the Trans community. I’m gender neutral, not Transgender, but I understand the frustration when the world insists you are something other than what you know you are.”

    YES! Long before I began identifying as a queer asexual, I felt a strong kinship with the trans community because they somehow seemed to occupy this space outside of the sexual orientation spectrum, a spectrum that I did not at all understand. I later learned that my perception was due to the fact that they were raising the question of gender identity over that of sexual orientation, but that did not change my feelings toward the community. Under that sexual-vs.-gender identity differentiation, there was (is) still the kinship toward people whose identity others do not take seriously. That is a crucial issue.

    You say it best here: “I don’t just consider myself asexual. I *am* asexual.” Thank you.

    ~Carsonspire


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