Within the LGBTQIA+ community, there are many different identities. These identities come in many shapes, colours and forms. One of these identities is Asexual, which is one of the identities to share the A within the acronym. As I was exploring my identity, I had trouble figuring out what I was experiencing regarding sexual attraction. I was confused and curious, so I started my journey to discover what I was experiencing.
As a community, we rarely ever acknowledge autistic lesbians. We know, naturally, that some lesbians are on the spectrum, but autism and lesbianism are treated as two completely different and unrelated identities. Today is Lesbian Day of Visibility, so let’s visibilize this unique experience, too.
Ahh, asexuality, arguably the most misunderstood, and oft-ignored, orientation on the spectrum. In my experience of coming out as ace (and I’ve come out to different people a few times now, always in circumstances where I was being pressed about what my love life was like) the reactions I’ve received run the gamut from accepting to dismissive, from curious to confused, to, I kid you not, downright disappointed. And in almost all of these cases I have been asked to explain or clarify what being asexual was like, what it meant or how it was even possible.
To explain why visability is important to me as a trans man I need to first take you back to the beginning of my journey as just like a movie the ending wont make much sense if you miss the start and middle.
I first knew that being AFAB was not the most comfortable option for me well before I even consciously understood what it meant to be a human being on this place people were calling Earth. My first memory of finding out that I was in fact, not who I thought I was as early as 2-3 years old when I was scolded for running around with my brothers shirtless. I was very quickly introduced to the expectations put on me from that moment forward about what it meant to be AFAB here in this realm, and regardless I still could not bring myself to conform to the rules. I spent the rest of my childhood defying all the obstacles and pleas that were placed in front of me or directly imprinted on me as I navigated the world as a growing human body.
Aromantic Awareness week is from February 21st to 27th. We take this week to bring awareness to Aromanticism, tell our stories, and educate. In this article, I am going to tell my personal stories of discovering my aromanticism through romantic encounters I have had and talking about things I wish alloromantic people knew.
I was in the mood for something wholesome and a few laughs. I clicked on a suggested video from his live talk show on YouTube. The thirteen million views and the title reeled me in; Kids Explain Why Women Are Paid Less Than Men. The camera-shy and slightly confused kids on Hollywood Boulevard uttered towards an idea that women don’t work as hard and weren’t taught how to do their job as well as men. A girl, around twelve, mic in hand, sporting some confidence started strong by saying women don’t have equal rights and group of people around the world should rally for them. Then the dealbreaker; with a good president like “probably Donald Trump”. Cue live audience laughter. A boy around the same age looks at the reporter deadpan and said women in the workforce are underrated because they can do more but people expect them to do less. My guy right here.
My story is a long one but let’s put it in short with great perspective. Put yourself in the shoes of an autistic five year old whom has yet to learn their potential and the cause for so much pain. My family’s last name was and still is Stranger so you can imagine how many bullies have tried the “We don’t talk to strangers” line with me. I had a stronger sense of logic more than the other kids just like my sister before me. The thing is though; I was the very different one. I wasn’t diagnosed by a social security psychiatrist until around July of 2011. So as this five year old even until past the age of sixteen. I was non-verbal. My parents fought often because my dad having heart failure and was ready to give up.
We sometimes hear about the awful surgical procedures that some doctors perform on babies with intersex genitalia at birth - I was lucky in that this was not deemed necessary in my case, though I did need a revision at the age of three for underdevelopment. The procedure went poorly, and the anesthetic didn't last the full period - the stitching came loose after surgery and recovery was slow.
It has been difficult to decide how to approach this piece. What do I want to share about being a parent of a nonbinary child? What things are most important to me for others to hear? How do I talk about my parts of this journey, when most of it is my child’s story, not mine? What message do I want to send to those who are in the beginning of this journey? What message do I want to send those who aren’t parenting a nonbinary child but are learning more about gender? These are some of the questions that were rolling around my mind as I was writing. First and foremost, I got my child’s permission to share pieces of their journey as was necessary to write this. That was the easy part.
I got my first period at eleven years old. Early, but not exactly unheard of. I went through the familiar rituals of congratulations from my female family members along with gifts of pads and chocolate. I got brochures and books on the matter, along with a talk about the birds and the bees (I was fortunate enough to come from a family where discussing these matters was not taboo). It was strange how a spot of blood in my underwear suddenly became a marker in my journey to womanhood, but it was something I felt a sense of pride in all the same.
It’s no secret that people in the queer community face discrimination. This doesn’t always take the form of an angry mob and posters with hate speech. Often, it’s just the little things that leave their mark. Misunderstandings so trivial that they’re almost not worth bringing up. But that’s where the trouble starts and how it builds.