Posted by: Shula Asher Silberstein | 1 February 2011

Not as Easy as It Looks…

I’d like to propose that the word “easy” be banned from the English language, along with the word “lazy”. The latter is especially egregious because it seems to have no real value beyond attacking someone who you don’t like, especially when you have no knowledge of what they actually do.

But that’s a subject for a different blog someday. Right now I’m taking offense at the word “easy” because it seems to be slung around without abandon, as an accusation against people who are fighting for their lives, because someone else doesn’t understand their experience.

In other words, asexuality isn’t easy, folks. Being transgender or gender-variant isn’t easy either. Stop saying they are. When you do, you just show your own ignorance.

The last couple of weeks have been extremely difficult for both me and Hadassah, for separate reasons. She and I have been talking a lot about making sure our friendship remains a friendship and doesn’t veer off into romantic territory, which neither of us wants. She has been feeling that we are too much like a romantic couple. As I shared in a previous blog, it is very difficult to communicate because what she calls romance I call friendship, and I am coming to realize that my ideal partner is a best friend, not what I would call a romantic partner at all. But she is not asexual and it would not be healthy for our friendship to veer into that gray area between friendship and romance. So we have to distance ourselves from each other while still supporting each other.

We’ve been talking very honestly and trying to work things out so that we can have a friendship that we both feel comfortable with and not feel that our friendship is stopping either one of us from finding a suitable life partner. And it has been painful at times. I have cried, a lot, because I feel like I am losing my best friend even though I’m not, really. We’re just redefining our relationship and making it healthy. We have fought at times — and we are people who get along extraordinarily well, usually, and hardly ever argue with each other. We have stayed up all night trying to explain to each other what words such as friendship, romance and love mean to each of us respectively and find some common ground for discussion so that we can hopefully move past our different understandings of the whole relationship thing and rebuild our friendship.

And people dare say that it is “easy” to be asexual. “It’s so much easier for you. You aren’t tormented by sex.”

Try being tormented by desire for emotional intimacy with someone who can’t give it to you because they want and need to reserve that for their sexual partner. Try loving your best friend without being in love with her and not having any words at all to even  describe why it hurts, never mind how broken your heart is. Try having to let go of the person you love most in the world in an attempt to keep them in your life at all while knowing it will never be what you want and need it to be and having to find a way to move forward when it all seems impossible.

Then tell me it’s easy to be asexual.

I hate having to rant about this. I really do. Because actually I’m pretty happy with my asexuality, especially now that I’ve discovered a whole community of bloggers and am starting a meetup group and am participating in the asexual community in all sorts of ways. But this perception that asexuality is easier than sexuality really  bothers me, because not dealing with sexual attraction doesn’t make me immune to heartache, especially right now when the major relationship in my life is in such a state of transition and some things I had hoped for just… cannot materialize. Ever.

I’m not the only one who has been hurt by the careless swinging around of the word “easy”, either. Some transphobes, for lack of a better word, have latched onto using this particular weapon to hurt the people they don’t understand. Hadassah got told earlier today by some gay person that transgender people have it “easy” because “they can get married and gay people can’t”. This was an excuse for not standing up against the deplorable transphobic skit on last week’s Saturday Night Live.

Never mind that some trans people are gay, and that in any case transpeople get caught in a kind of limbo where the state can’t figure out what sex they “really” are so they don’t let them marry either sex thanks to same-sex prohibitions on marriage. Even leaving all that aside, Hadassah is currently unable to do many things that she is supposed to have the right to do because the state of North Carolina will not allow her to have a name that matches her gender identity. I’ve blogged about this before, and it’s worth repeating. You cannot even get a job or buy a car without giving your name and Social Security number to the government. According to that government, Hadassah is male — and the state of North Carolina will not even let her have a female name. To use her male name would be to cause massive psychological damage and possibly undo the hard work she’s done to overcome suicidal impulses. And if she were to be suicidal and try to get help in a hospital — they would call her a man too, or at least by a man’s name.

So you see, being trans is not easy any more than being Ace is.

Stop using the word easy to try to erase the struggles of anyone who is different than you or who you do not understand. Focus on your own life and how to make it better instead of accusing other people of not appreciating how easy their life is when they try to make themselves visible to the world.

People should not have to fight for the right to be seen. This should be a basic privilege that is taken for granted by everybody. Don’t make it any worse by calling someone’s issues a waste of time or accusing them of having an easy life so that you don’t have to deal with them.

 

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Responses

  1. 1-Confused about the whole Ace(asexual) thing. does that mean you don’t have sex?
    2-It isn’t the Ace thing that troubles you but how you handle your emotions that is the biggest issue. The only problem mankind ever had was how he felt. We are our worst enemies.
    3-The name changing law is silly because there are men with feminine names. How can the state have a bias that isn’t definite?
    4- This was a healthy rant, I’m glad you got it out. I hope you feel better, even if only a little. It is a good practice.
    5-I may be a little confused but you used the disgruntled nature of a homosexual’s inconsideration to serve as bias and callousness against Aces and transgenders? That is deep on so many levels.
    Finally- I’m a heterosexual black man, with a deep curiosity for understanding others and how they see the World. I care a little too much so please don’t hold my comments against me. I’m simply being honest. If you are simply looking for answers to your questions, then those answers are out there.

    Do you think it would be better to be positive and expect good things or maybe be negative and expect bad things?

    • Tanks for your comments.

      Asexual/Ace refers to my sexual orientation. I don’t experience sexual attraction towards anyone of any gender. I personally am not interested in having sex with anybody, but some Aces do.

      Anyways, this particular rant was really the culmination of a lot of stuff that has gone down over the course of the last six months within the LGBT community. It’s not really based on this one incident. That’s just the last straw. There’s an ugly undercurrent of tensions between some people in the so-called community, especially some cis-gendered gay people and the trans community, which I have become more aware of as I get more involved in the transgender rights movement. There are some who believe that transgender issues are unimportant and that transgender folk have it “easy”. They generally come from a place of ignorance in which they believe that all transgender persons are straight and that “all you have to do is visit a courthouse and your name and gender will be changed”.

      I’ve blogged here about Hadassah’s name change issue before. This is very frustrating to her and I’m sure she’s not the only trans person that it has happened to, but the state of North Carolina refuses to allow her to change her name to match her gender because of an archaic law and because she changed her last name two years ago for religious reasons. While the law itself does not deliberately seek to discriminate against transgender people, its existence makes it very difficult for some transpeople, her included, to live their lives, as it is psychologically damaging to use a name that does not match one’s gender and she is legally barred from using her correct name. Even if this were not an issue, the name change is only the beginning of a long journey to attempt to make one’s gender identity legal, and trans folk actually have quite a bit in common with gays and lesbians regarding civil rights problems. Plus it is trans folk who are at the front lines of the LGBT rights movement and have been since the 1960’s, yet some would like to dismiss them as irrelevant to the movement. So those who call a trans person’s journey “easy” and try to dismiss them from the community do no-one any favors.

      • Thank you for accepting my comment.
        Though, there is little to offer in the form of solace, your struggles are in my prayers for whatever it is worth.
        I believe in acceptance and understanding. I have yet to truly understand all sexual variations apart from what I know to be natural.
        I may not comment further but I will follow your blog to help improve my understanding of your personal trials so that on some level I can improve my opinion of people I cannot immediately relate to.

  2. P.S. Maybe you make it look easy. Can you take it as a compliment? 🙂

  3. Coming from cis, passing-for-sexual privilege (I’m still figuring out whether I’m asexual or not), I can’t say I relate, but I can understand some of what you’re talking about. I never believed being asexual or trans /gender-variantwould be easy, but I know it’s easy to fall into that trap if you come fjrom privilege.


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