Am I asexual? Who decides – WHO or Judges

Ritash (pronouns: they/them) is co-founder, RANG & CLE Trust. They moved from writing software programs to people’s and places’ stories. They are asexual & gender fluid and an LGBTQIAP+ community peer counsellor.

Am I asexual? Yes. Actually, I’m an Ace, like many asexual persons prefer calling themselves. And gender fluid and panromantic (romantically attracted to different persons, whatever their SOGIESC).

Do these matter? Definitely. Are these disabilities or abnormalities? No. I am (re)writing this mainly because a person I respect and admire asked me once, “What is this asexuality that you keep talking about”? I am glad that her question had urged me to pen this, initially in 2016-17.

Discovering myself

But this also responds to the World Health Organization apparently modifying (in 2016) the definition of infertility which I find outrageous. Actually, the earlier/current definition also disappoints me. Both seemingly insult people with disabilities, infertility and those who are asexual et al. I believe that I did not choose asexuality – it chose me! I like expressing love physically, but only partly and in some ways. I am usually emotionally and intellectually attracted to some people irrespective of social and cultural identities and physical attributes, except age. I am romantically attracted to people over 5 years older than me, very rarely. Actually, I have been romantically attracted to younger persons, mostly. Although, it hardly affected my romantic relationships, family elders were shocked when I revealed my asexuality although I did not know the term then. I do not know how many asexual people are/were there in this world although I am sure there are many – I have read and heard about some and met and befriended a few.

Around 2013, while chatting with friends during the annual Namma (Our) Pride and Queer Habba (Festival) in Bangalore, I gladly discovered that asexuality is not unique, although it seems infrequently disclosed or discussed. For long, I hesitated to reveal that I am an Ace or discuss my sexual desires and preferences openly as:

  • Such aspects are personal or private
  • I may have been considered abnormal
  • I was unsure of empathy
  • I feared ridicule, stigma, ostracization or being stereotyped or judged
  • I had shamed and tormented myself by doubting my (a)sexuality
  • I may have been regarded as incapable of healthy emotional relationships
  • Friends and acquaintances had teased me about my asexuality, not desiring children, especially biological ones

Understanding myself

I never wanted to have children, biological or adopted, although I like children and have tutored and mentored children of various ages, periodically. But apparently, there are Aces who want or have children. Actually, the two need not be interlinked. Previously, I considered my asexuality a passing phase but I am certain it is not so and I also consider myself as gender-fluid and sometimes wonder if am agender. Actually, I prefer not to be classified as being of a particular gender. However, many heteronormative people consider me abnormal and sterile perhaps because I am supposedly a ‘woman’ (I don’t consider myself a woman albeit I’m AFAB or ‘assigned female at birth’) in a relationship with an asexual cis man and we have chosen not to have children. I have stopped caring about others’ opinions, largely.

Am I asexual always? Although I have been predominantly a sex negative Ace (on the ASPEC or asexual and aromantic spectrum), I have had a few compulsive and extremely painful sexual experiences (non-penetrative) that I could have avoided had I been confident about my asexuality. However, occasionally, I seem to subconsciously desire a brief sexual encounter. Further, I have survived sexual assault and molestation but they did not make me asexual. And, I am not prude, celibate or abstinent. I am an Ace – by nature. That’s all.

Is sex overrated?

Sometimes, yes. I consider the world hypersexual, predominantly. However, I do not judge, oppose or criticize people wanting, discussing or enjoying consensual sex. I believe that Non-consensual sex is rape. The pressure to perform and satisfy during sex, which men (including cisgender, able-bodied, dominant caste/race/ethnicity, majority faith, heterosexual, wealthy) also face, is patriarchal. Using sex to control and oppress people especially from subaltern groups/identities seems common, though people facing it in intimate relationships do not divulge that aspect easily. Further, discussing sex is taboo as shame is associated with it. Consequentially and tragically, reporting rape, sexual violence, assault, harassment by survivors/victims and their supporters is discouraged. None must label or consider anyone (ab)normal based on the nature or absence of sexual desire.

People must not be judged, opposed or criticized for their sexuality, sexual or gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, sex characteristics, partner preference, et al. There must be no attempts to ‘cure’ or counsel someone for their sexuality, sexual habits or preferences, and gender identity or expression, unless the individual seeks assistance for relevant emotional, physiological and psychological challenges. However, sexually and gender diverse persons must receive sensitive, respectful and affirming support when required. None can declare that somebody is (ab)normal or (un)natural, unless they or their behavior are perceived as harmful to themselves or others. Do I have a disability? Why must someone determine who has a disability or not other than the person with the disability?

Incidentally, I have flat feet but they are not considered a disability in India (where I have loved living most of my life). My feet have caused me pain and injuries which resurface sometimes and hamper my ability to walk or run fast, climb stairs quickly, bend my legs easily, bother my lower back, etc. And there are chances that those conditions may aggravate primarily because I can slip and fall easily, however careful I am. Unfortunately, attempts to alleviate it succeeded only partially, largely because they were made during my teenage (rather than in childhood) by when my feet structure was set. Of course, a major childhood surgery to ‘repair’ my hol(e)y heart, a congenital issue, was prioritized and I blame none for that. This has left a visible and permanent scar starting between my breasts and down to my abdomen that regularly itches – I largely concealed it (with great discomfort) from my childhood until my late thirties, as it attracted avoidable attention. But for the last decade, I haven’t bothered to hide it despite the continued unwanted attention it creates. Also, it has taken me time to reveal that I am asexual, panromantic and gender fluid, partially because I was unfamiliar with these terms and lacked role models or pertinent information, despite being a voracious reader, a computer science engineer and information and communications technology enthusiast who usually thirsts for knowledge.

Further, I perceived a lack of understanding and presumed that I may be considered abnormal or unnatural. Of course, now I hardly care about others’ opinions – not that I cared much about them earlier.

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