An area of concern for the asexual community is health and well-being. While it might be simple to think, “oh yes, they have fewer needs, so how can they be at a disadvantage?” the disadvantages are actually two-fold and much more negative than one might expect. In particular in the areas of: physical health, emotional health, mental/intellectual health, social health, environmental health, and spiritual health.

Mr. Worry

Emotional Health

For asexuals, I think the most difficult thing to think about is the emotional health of a person. Due to the socially-imposed feelings of feeling broken, and very similar to the risks of being part of the LGBT community, asexuals are often at higher risks of depression. This mostly comes from the feelings of shortcomings and not being able to meet the needs of people, or even meet their own emotional needs. This can cause ramifications in other areas of life such as work, relationships, and negatively influence the people around them.

Trauma experiences due to past relationships, or even none at all, might result in the lack of willingness to try to take part in dating, or developing friendships or making meaningful connections with other individuals. It’s important to recognize that support in this area is imperative, as even many medical professional still don’t know much about asexuals, and psychiatrically trained practitioners might not be able to assist with asexual issues because of lack of perspective, empathy, or understanding of the needs or workings of asexual individuals.

One positive thing, I think, is that asexuals utilise their communities quite extensively to help to navigate their emotional needs and boundaries. They learn more quickly about what their needs are, and are more open to emotional exploration because it’s the main facet of their expression. This makes them more articulate when speaking about their feelings, their needs, and why they think they feel that way and how it might be managed.

Physical Health

One of the main topics of concerns for asexuals is physical abuse, which normally comes in the form of sexual assault, or sexual pressures associated with interacting with allosexual people. If an asexual is sex-adverse then the pressures of them dating an allosexual are compounded because 1) the needs of the allosexual are not being meet, and 2) the social pressures that come with evolution of relationships. As a result, many ace people are pressured into sexual encounters with partners, or experiencing a lack of empathy and understanding for their needs or their wishes, resulting in possible sexual assault.

This is especially true for teenagers that are ace and are discovering their needs and dealing with puberty and the sexual urges of their peers. They might be pressured into doing something that they feel they can’t say no to; or even in the adult communities the same pressure for fear of rejection.

There is a wide-spanned debate about how asexuals and hormone levels are either part of the “norm” or if they are “anomalies.” Personally, I believe that unless science says otherwise, ace individuals don’t have anything physiologically wrong with them, and therefore hormone supplements or specialised medication are not necessary.

Some aces report that their doctors put them on medication regimes to try to “fix” their asexuality, and I think such an act stems from lack of proper education or even basic research about asexual communities from medical professionals. A particularly good resource for medical professionals can be found courtesy of the Resource for Ace Survivors. Educate yourself, people…

Mental/Intellectual Health

This type of health mainly focuses on the person’s ability to recognise reality and cope with life. For asexuals, reality will look a little more one way than another, and that’s natural considering that we all have different perspectives of reality. To asexuals, for example, is more sexual than one would expect. How they cope with that, is yet to be fully understood or managed but at least identifying it is a start.

Looking at their own situations in terms of their own self-actualisation and self-understanding might be more heightened while at the same time more self-critical due to the feelings of not belonging or not being good enough for this or that. The differences between allosexual and asexual people are vast, and therefore they are less likely to be able to engage intellectually or mentally with people, due to lack of common ground, understanding, or empathy. This has obvious ramifications on social well-being and connections between individuals across sexual orientation lines.

Social Health

Social Health

To put it simply, social well-being of asexuals should be a major concern for health-care professionals. The feelings of not belonging or not finding their places in the world are heightened because they are navigating a world that is basically foreign to their views. People lose friends because of being asexual. People don’t consider dating asexuals due to ignorance. People treat asexuals with indecency and lack of respect due to lack of understanding. They just don’t feel like they fit in, and as a result social interactions are strained or limited.

I read once a thread on AVEN regarding how many people thought they would die alone due to their asexuality and how that might compare with allosexuals asking the same connection. The results were really depressing, and if you look at it from a logical point of view, or even at the statistical numbers, it’s pretty depressing and bleak. Why else do you think aces would seek comfort and try to “compromise” with allosexuals in order to be at the table for dating or relationships. The thought of sticking to the ace community in itself, and dealing with geographical limitations due to low-percentages of the community, is enough to send someone into instant depression and feelings of helplessness.

Just like there is stigma for other sexual orientations, asexuals suffer from the same results of coming out as LGBT individuals. Though, when you think about it, in theory there should be less hate coming from religious beliefs, but since it’s a fairly new concept most classical religions wouldn’t have any thoughts or perspective on it and it would depending on spiritual leaders to set by example.

Environmental Health

While this might not be a major concern of the ace community, it’s pretty well-connected with social and mental health. While ace people are at risk of mental illnesses, they tend to be able to exist in harmony with societies, mostly because they aren’t rubbing against the core values of them. Unless there is financial circumstances, asexuals would normally have access to shelter, food, and most normal amenities.

Moral and Ethics - The Simpsons

Spiritual Health

This one is a bit difficult for me to navigate because I’m agnostic in terms of religion, but I guess that in terms of other types of spiritual beliefs such as ethics and morals, those tie in with physical and emotional needs. Asexuals might have strong morals and ethics, or loose ones depending on the individual, but my feeling is that they might need to be a bit more flexible with them when navigating dating or relationships.

Asexuals beliefs about their own asexuality are as strong convictions of those of religious individuals, mostly because they are more deeply personal and are related to facts of what they are, versus abstract ideas of what they believe in. Religion is a choice, where being asexual isn’t, so it’s tough to argue against someone who self-identifies about someone, when really nobody has a better understanding of other people, unless you’re psychic or clairvoyant or something.


For further research, the website Asexual Explorations keeps a detailed bibliography of academic asexual research that is worth investigating if you’re interested.

LGBTTQQIAAP Alphabet

Do you know your alphabet? I can only assume that your response as a reader would be affirmative, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to read what I’m writing; but perhaps you’re reading with assistive technology, which is equally cool! Gotta love technology and how it allows us to access any type of content.

When we talk about the alphabet in the ace community, it’s often something that comes up in other circles on the internet and in life: the LGBTQIA community. What do the letter mean? Are there more letters? Why do I hear about LGBT and have no idea what LGBTQIA is? Well the answer is simple, and not so simple.

The LGBTQIA Community

When people who fit outside the “norms” of society they often search for communities to which they can belong. This is absolutely true for the LGBTQ community, which stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Queer/Questioning. But the question remains, even with these communities, are they all inclusive? Do heterosexual people, for instance, take part in these communities? The answer is a hesitant yes, maybe. Some people in all communities are allies for the people inside, and help wage the war of information and acceptance. Everyone appreciates those people, but they might not necessarily feel like they belong to the community.

Historically this community only represents people on the sexual spectrum (homosexual, bisexual for both genders) but in certain circumstances can include a wider range of individuals, like for example the transexual community, or intersex community. It really just depends on who you’re talking to, and how inclusive a community is willing to be. Some might even include asexuals, but that’s a question up for debate depending on the person. Don’t worry, I’ll explain.

Asexuals and the LGBTQIA Community

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Courtesy of Dylan Edward’s “Nothing Wrong With Me

Since asexuals are becoming more mainstream (though admittedly due to the numbers it’s likely to never be mainstream in the truest meaning), some decide to become involved in certain communities. Though it begs the question, does a heteroromantic or aromantic asexual belong in the LGBTQIA community? The “A” suggests that it’s included, but do heteroromantic aces belong with lesbians, gays, bisexual,s trans, queer, questioning, or intersex others?

I would be bold enough to say, not necessarily but it depends on the person. A heteroromantic ace likely would only be apart of that community if they were unable to find another of their own, or because they are an ally. As asexuals, they aren’t really represented in minority groups like this, which are mainly focused on sexuality. Sure it’s great to be inclusive, but my example ace likely wouldn’t get much out of (except education) a LGBTQ community.

A biromantic asexual however would get something out of a community like this, but it depends on the person. We read about how hypersexualized the world is and these communities are no exception, but at least there is a common thread or common romantic experiences with these people with whom they can relate. Sure it’s mixed up with sexual attraction, but for the 99% of the human population sexual attraction and romantic attraction go hand-in-hand. Usually ace people are educated enough in their own orientation to navigate through these communities, but they still aren’t really represented by them.

The Asexual Debate

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Courtesy of Dylan Edward’s “Nothing Wrong With Me

The debate comes up every so often in ace circles: “do we belong in LGBTQ?” thereby adding an additional “A.” The votes split, and it depends on who is talking, but if the answer is yes, then you’d be including the demi/gray-aces, homoromantic & biromantic aces, and excluding the heteroromantic aces, and the aromantic aces. The community, thus, splits into different factions. That’s what’s so dangerous or worry some about joining forces with other communities: there will always be people that are underrepresented.

I’m not saying that they don’t belong, I’m just saying that the only people that are really going to understand and relate to other asexuals are asexual people or allosexuals with a lot of experience with asexuals (it’s rare).

It’s Confusing

Unless you’ve been around the asexual community a long time, you likely wouldn’t have much experience being able to navigate your thoughts, feelings, confusion, or questions about yourself. Sure aces can try to get their answers online (i.e. Reddit’s /r/AskRedit), but with lack of information and education about asexual issues or even basic visibility, the answers one would get are quite polarizing, hostile, and unhelpful.

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Courtesy of Dylan Edward’s “Nothing Wrong With Me

It’s particularly hard when asexuals are trying to navigate their feelings and sometime seek out fulfillment of their emotional or romantic needs. They find people that they think they might get along with, but often feel broken because it’s not going the way it should be.

It’s especially true about asexual dating. Most aces find allosexuals to date, but how do they approach it, or when do they come out? It’s simple being asexual when you’re alone, in theory, but for asexuals yearning for their needs to be met just like the 99% of the rest of the population, it begs the question, how can it work for them too?

It comes down to education and individual needs. If mainstream populations were more educated about asexuals they would be more willing to understand and accept them as possible partners, or even help them integrate into other communities. I hope this can happen, but there is a sinking feeling inside my gut that it just won’t be there.

Until that happens, the best we can do as humans is try to find inclusive environments for all people of all types, and promote that.

 


Dylan Edwards posted a really cool narrative on his website from which I’ve used some of the images in this blog post. Check out the full story of his journey being an Evangelical Christian to an asexual trans man. 

#ForeverAlone

I was made aware of something very poignant lately. Over the last few days I’ve been walking around looking for Pokémon, and I’ve noticed the number of walkers, drivers, and people doing things in groups. It doesn’t ever seem to be alone. Most people might not notice this, but I picked up on it very quickly.

Then I hung out with a group of friends of mine and it became painfully obvious how alone can be in a group of people. People gravitate towards their partners or their besties, and I’m left to feel like I don’t belong.

To further amplify this, what happens when you start looking through your Facebook photos to find that the vast majority of the photos are of things or oneself, but not with other people?

And to take it one step further, when you look at your life and how you’ve shaped it, and how it seems inconceivable to be able to integrate someone else into you life because you’ve set it up so much to be the best suited for being alone.

I guess this calls for an appropriate hashtag #ForeverAlone

The Ontario Curriculum Grade 1-8: Health and Physical Education (2015)

New Ontario sex-ed curriculum ready for September, CBC News, Feb 23, 2015

Ontario has updated its sexual-education curriculum for the first time in nearly two decades and it will be rolled out across the province this fall.

Education Minister Liz Sandals unveiled the new curriculum at a news conference Monday, saying the government won’t back down in the face of criticism as it did in 2010 when religious groups complained about proposed revisions.

Sandals said she anticipates some criticism, but the new lessons are key to keeping children safe.

Out of the dark ages, Ontario emerges with a new “touchy” subject that’s like a hot potato that teaches don’t want to touch. It’s an uncomfortable topic for a lot of Canadians and when they start talking about it they feel a shame and a guilt about it. Originating from a Puritanical society can be damaging to progressive values, because by definition puritan is conservative in it’s progress.

While I may not be a sexual person in nature I don’t really have much problem talking about that, especially with my students (although it can be quite awkward). Why would I be comfortable teaching this health and sexual education curriculum? Well because holding a veil of obscurity in front of children for “conservative values” doesn’t benefit them in the long run. Where knowing something might make them more curious, it’s not any more curious than they are already. Proper education on the subject just removes the shame or the guilt associated with it.

For instance, on this same interview a sexual education assistant educator talked about poignant issues like masterbation and consent on national televisions and to be completely honest it made me jump a little. I mean, did they just say that on national television? It made me think, well it’s not wrong and they are having a mature conversation about it in a public forum without being grotesque or inappropriate. It’s a model of what future societies should be.

A funny moment came when they were discussing to “too much too soon” approach which I don’t think is true. I really do think that children are bombarded with conflicting messages about sexuality and need to learn about them and the options later in life. If nothing else the knowledge can empower them to make more valued decisions about their own actions and beliefs. “Why don’t we wait for them to ask us?” one parent poignantly asks. Well for starters they might never ask and therefore not ever get the conversation going.

In my experience as an educator, a large number of parents aren’t filling the appropriate role that they are put into: a parent. They might provide shelter, and love, and nourishment, but lack a unity with teacher about learning. Too often the parents are pitted against teachers which is confusing for children and doesn’t benefit them in the long run. Too much responsibility has been transferred from parenting to teaching and now parents are upset about it because they haven’t empowered themselves to retain a stronger role.

As someone that grew up not having any sort of conversation with my parents about that, I can see the negative results. I’m lucky in that I’m a bright human being that is curious and informs myself by doing a lot of research on topics , but other children don’t have the access or the know-how of doing the same as me. I believe that if conversations about positive and healthy relationships and sexuality happened growing up, I think I might have had a much more positive outlook on it and have been better prepared for things that came.

But here I sit as a bitter, pre-30 spinster that doesn’t have positive experiences with sex education or experience with positive relationships regardless of their type. I guess that’s what happens when you’re raised by conservative parents that keep the veil over the eyes of their child. 😐

When you meet someone for tea that you fancy in some way or another, is that considered casual dating? Despite that person not being interested in you at all, is that still considered dating? If it’s so consistant that it happens about 8 times, and each time it appears to get more and more interesting and people feel more and more at ease with each other does that continue to constitute casual dating?

All of these questions are obviously a representation of how ambiguous and complicated dating in the 21st century is. This is especially true when men, in particular, are so poor at communicating their feelings and or desires bar the lets go to bed type of communication. So, it’s no wonder that people are so confused these days as to what kind of relationship status they are currently involved in.

At first it was the “we aren’t exclusive” attitude, and then it’s the “we haven’t talked about it” situation, and then it’s the “we are casual and sleeping around but I don’t know if they are doing the same” situation. As you can see they get more and more vague and rely less and less on actual communication. Why did the human race and society get this way? Why do people allow this relationship ambiguity? Why do people put up with it, and the “games” that people play?

These question and this discussion are in no way representative of my own situation, but since I was out for tea with a friend the other night I started to think about it more and more. I guess the ambiguity is akin to the possible situation that people are meeting for dates, and one person is interested and the other person is quite aloof or not interested at all.

Lets get communicating, people. Less peoples hearts will thenceforth be broken!