Originally posted on The Asexual Agenda:
This post was written for the August 2014 Carnival of Aces. This month’s theme is “the Unassailable Asexual.” You too can submit!
Trigger warnings: If you have any sexual violence-related triggers, please consider skipping this post. Frank (although not explicit) discussion of sexual violence (including corrective rape) and associated emotional fallout, victim-blaming, invalidation, manipulation of survivors and their stories for political ends, and general suckiness ahead. There should also be a blanket trigger warning for sexual violence for almost every link in this post. If you think this needs additional warnings, please let me know.
I discovered the Wikipedia page for asexuality in January of 2008. By September of the same year, I had PTSD. These two facts are not unrelated.
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Originally posted on janitorqueer:
I attended the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference back in mid-June and wrote a summary of the workshops I made it to, but I left out the details of one workshop because I felt it warranted a post all to itself. I stumbled into “A Gender Not Listed here” late Saturday afternoon, feeling a little bit drained, but excited about the topic, which was going to be a summary and discussion of an article that was published in April, 2012. The information was based on findings of a study completed by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality in 2008. It surveyed 6,450 T-GNC-GQ (transgender, gender non-conforming, genderqueer) individuals from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is by far the largest sample size of this population to date.
(The presenters commented that they got a lot of…
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I’ve been thinking recently that I may not actually be a gold-star ace–actually, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time defending the fact that I’m not a gold-star ace and what’s it to you? for a while now–and for those with their noses buried in the community, not an ace at all. I’ve talked about all the ways that the asexual label has been useful to me in the time I’ve adopted it, I’ve talked about the nebulousness of “sexual attraction” and how, for me, it seems to be an easy and seductive way to mask my paraphilia and the way it informs how I understand intimacy.
Rimonim of Today I Am A Man brought to my attention today that there’s been an idea going around the internet that non-binary people need our own letter to add to the acronym.
(I gotta get this out of the way first: Rimonim, I appreciate your commentary, but like one of the commenters on your post said, this isn’t really your horse that’s being raced here. (Yep, I just made up an idiom. Deal widdit.) This is something that non-binary folk need to hash out amongst themselves. Er, ourselves.)
Okay, to the point: I hate the acronym. Like, it really bothers me, the entire idea of the acronym, the culture surrounding it, how it’s used by organizations, by individuals, by companies out to make a quick buck from queer people. “LGBT” has no semantic meaning anymore; it’s processed much more like a logo, and trying to force it to have an actual concrete meaning has, as far as my opinion matters, resulted in frustration and communication breakdown.
Fuck the acronym, I don’t care about assimilating into it, to be rendered into a visual soundbite that doesn’t, in any meaningful way serve me.
I mean, look at how its most basic form, “LGBT” has been used historically. “Welcome to the LGBT community, where the B doesn’t matter and the T is made up.” (Shit, who said that, Colbert?) I browse the events and calendar for my local LGBT center every now and then, thinking that perhaps I’ll get lucky and find something that won’t just be interesting, but something that I could actually go to and won’t get the hairy eyeball. And every time I’m disappointed. There are dozens of events and resources for the L and the G, one or two things for the B, and a single thing for the T, with absolutely no mention anywhere of anything NB, let alone any A’s, P’s, I’s, Q’s, or any other letter that’s made it into the mess over the past few years thanks to young people who do more typing about their identities than talking about them. (Not that that’s a bad thing per-se, but if you literally don’t take the time to test how your new term is going to sound when spoken, then you need to stop and reevaluate things for a moment because most meaningful activism happens in meatspace.) But adding to an already bloated term isn’t going to suddenly make my LGBT center add more programming for people like me. It’s not going to spontaneously educate the staff members on how to be sensitive to our needs and the resources we need. It’s been decades and still the focus is on L and G 90% of the time.
To follow up about that more, there’s the issue of accessibility. How in the fuck do you even say LGBTQQIAAPPH+ or whatever it is? How do I carry on a conversation about the community with someone if I can’t even pronounce the name of the community as a whole? How is that at all conducive to effective, practical communication and dissemination of ideas?
Moreover, how practical is it to make this shift from seeing “LGBT+” as an umbrella term, to one of actual, precise, semantic value that needs to be constantly updated as though it’s an actual list of identities? None at all. There are hundreds of identities out there, and who suddenly gets to decide that one gets to make it into the acronym, but not another? This, in the real world, will do nothing but stratify and create more feelings of erasure.
And lastly, there already is an inclusive umbrella acronym that’s been in circulation for a few years, I think coined by the asexuality community: GSRM. Gender, Sexuality, Romantic Minority. And to me, if we absolutely positively need the use of an acronym, then this, or something similar, is it. (Personally, I could see it shortened even further to GOM, or Gender and Orientation Minority.)
In short, LGBT+, let alone the longer and more ridiculous variations, don’t mean anything. They’ve reduced our amazing variety of expressions of love, sexuality, and self-determination into something flat and easily monetized. We’ve been had by corporate interests looking to capitalize on us and usher us into imperialist, patriarchal notions of normativitiy. It coerces us into focusing on our “right” to get married (instead of being able to achieve financial security without clinging to the crumbs of the nuclear family), and our “right” to go overseas and murder civilians in the name of oil. That’s not equality.
For all intents and purposes, “LGBT” has been hijacked. You all can have it if you want. I’m doing something else.
I met with the surgeon today. He’s a gynecological oncologist working at a big hospital complex, so he’s a very busy guy with all sorts of patients needing all sorts of treatment options.
So I sat in his office, waiting for about a half hour, after a nurse had bluntly informed me that my pulse was high but my blood pressure was normal. Of course it’s high, dingus.
The surgeon walks in and before I even get a chance to smile awkwardly and say hello, he opens with: “So Hartford tells me that I’m gonna be helping you get started on your transgender journey.” Literally 90 seconds into the conversation, and his full and enthusiastic consent to perform the procedure is established, and the rest of the meeting is him telling me about all the ways in which he’s going to make sure that insurance doesn’t screw me over, and going back and forth about other things I may want to have done in the future.
That’s it, really. Well, aside from a pelvic exam (including rectal probing), picking out an approximate date, and listening to him talk about how much he hates insurance companies, that was it.
I’m not really sure why I was so nervous about his reception, to be honest– the new patient sheet had a gender field marked with “female” and “other” options. I guess that maybe I was so caught off-guard that I’d misread it as something more cisnormative somehow? I think maybe this might be a lesson on why I should be a little less suspicious of people and their capacity to accept me. I need to stop psyching myself out so much and getting wrapped up with anxiety– look at all the amazing things that can happen if I just gather the courage to act and do what I need to do?
All in all, it was a really great experience, and I can see the surgery being nothing but wonderful and amazing too. My husband will be there this time, I’ll probably get a few visits from friends while I recover, and I’ll be one step closer to having the body I deserved all along.
I’ve started reading Understanding Asexuality (late to the game, I know, but it’s been part of a recent effort to be at the computer less and at the library more). I’m not 20 pages in and already I’m having very thinky thoughts, some of which I’ve already had.
In short, once again I’m thinking very seriously about the way my (lack of) gender, my sex identity, and my asexuality co-developed and currently exist. It’s also not the first time I’ve reconsidered my asexual identity, and then shrug and keep using it because it happens to make the most straightforward sense and is a very useful shorthand for what may or may not really be going on.