My sexuality has always been an elusive thing. In contradiction to my gender, that has almost never changed. I claimed the label Fluid after coming out to my father about 50 or so times. The first coming out was as asexual, but then I began to doubt myself. There wasn't much representation, and still isn't, for asexuals- especially not for asexual men. My father was the one who suggested I try on the fluid label, see how it fit. For a long time, it was the best one I could find. Looking back, I realize the source of my confusion derived from the changing of my romantic attraction, not sexual. My romantic orientation is like a pin ball that has just been released and is ricocheting off every possible surface. Every surface, in this analogy, is a different gender.
The rare moments I did feel I was asexual "enough" were quickly overtaken by the fog of uncertainty. Was my asexuality due to past trauma? Would I still be ace after I started transitioning? Can I be asexual and still want to have sex? Many more questions and fears would swarm my head. Feelings of worthlessness, because the only word I heard in context with asexuality was the word "broken." So often, Asexual people were, and still are, considered mentally ill. Sex is considered an innate part of being human, the desire for it natural. Asexuality, therefore, is considered unnatural. Those that repeat this harmful rhetoric clearly did not bother to even google the basic definition for this sexuality. Asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction, whether people on the ace spectrum have sex is entirely up to them and does not necessarily have a connection to their sexuality.
Aces can still want to engage in sex or generally desire it. We simply are not sexually attracted to the person(s) we engage with. Sex can be healing as well as destructive. As a trans man, my relationship with my body has never been great. I view it as a house in desperate need of remodeling. Sex can be gender affirming for those of us who have had to put in some serious work to love ourselves.
Besides the struggle between my brain and body, I am also Autistic. As an Autistic man, I didn't want to be vocal about my lack of sexual attraction. I felt that would further the stereotype of Autistic people as children, and therefore considered without sexual desire. There is a relatively high number of autistic people who fall on the ace spectrum, but that did not relieve the pressure. I love how my brain works, how I exist in this world, but I do not want to further harmful stereotypes that seek to degrade me and my community. It took me a long time to finally realize the best way I could help my community is living authentically.
During my last year of college, I finally began the work to better myself. I suffer from PTSD, and had never expected to live long, so I hadn't bothered to try hard to get better. During my journey of healing, I finally started on Testosterone. This made me much more comfortable with myself, and provided some much needed relief. My relationship with my body became better as it began to change. The only real unexpected change from the new flood of hormones was the increase of my sex drive. I read the piece of paper my doctor had me read over and sign, describing all possible changes due to taking testosterone. I knew logically this would occur, but that is very different from actually experiencing it. This specific change made the difference between libido and sexual attraction apparent. As best as I can describe it, sex drive (or libido) is like feeling hungry. It is a need that has to be filled some way. Sexual attraction is like being hungry for a specific food. I had been very depressed for as long as I could remember before starting T. I had not realized how much my depression medications and mental illness had suppressed my sex drive.
Once I figured out the difference between libido and attraction, It became much easier to accept my asexuality. No more were the creeping doubts that had plagued me in the past. For the first time, I felt almost whole. The work and time I had spent healing myself had certainly not gone to waste. My depression lessened; the words that had felt like knife wounds now fell off like drips of water. I no longer cared if I seemed stereotypical to some Ableist people. I am a living, breathing, human being, I could never be the card board cut out they seemed to so desperately want.
With my newfound self worth and desire to learn more about asexuality, I went on youtube and found a couple of people I greatly related to. I learned asexuals can want a sexual relationship and our feeling towards the act of sex itself can be divided into three general categories: Sex repulsed, Sex indifferent, or sex favorable. I swing between sex indifferent to sex favorable most days. I am sex favorable for other people. This simply means: good for you.
The most recent time I said "I am asexual" out loud was in a small room in my home, nobody around. Nobody to hear my small triumph. Though I had said it to people before, come out to some friends and family, I still wasn't entirely sure that label fit. I still felt afraid to claim it. This time, it felt like a relief. A burst of joy blossomed inside my chest. It pushed out all the uncertainty and left a lovely warm feeling. I felt the warm, glowing rays of the sun shimmering over my heart for a moment.
I do not have a label I am entirely comfortable with containing my romantic feelings yet. But then, labels do not need to be forever.
In conclusion, to all my fellow aces this pride month, you are not broken. You are beautifully whole.
About the author
I am a lover of words. I am a trans man (pronouns he/him) writing about my experience through a fantasy and sometimes real world lens. I express the pain of living with PTSD through poetry and horror stories.