On Asexual Disclosure, Safety and Peace of Mind
The other day, I read the new article at Asexual News, “Asexuals Living in Small Towns Should Come Out When They Can do so Safely.” I have some objections to the position advanced and the terminology used* in the article.
Although the term “safety” is not defined in the article, the reader is led to assume that the author is discussing physical safety and freedom from structural discrimination in housing and employment, to the exclusion of peace of mind.
I go to a university where my physical safety is not at risk for my being asexual, gay and FTM. I have freedom from the structural forms of discrimination that a cis gay asexual university student would face. As a trans person, this is a different story, but I’m going to focus on what I experience that can be seen as related to asexuality, though it is generally impossible for me to tease apart the asexual from the trans, the trans from the gay, and the asexual from the gay.
Despite my aforementioned lack of experience of structural anti-asexual discrimination and my physical safety, I do not wish to disclose publicly that I am asexual. I have had the experience of being the token trans* person in queer spaces before. I have been the token queer person before in straight cis spaces. It is likely that publicly disclosing my asexuality would result in me being the token asexual person, regardless of what I was willing to say about asexuality.
As a person with depression and multiple anxiety disorders, I often don’t have the spoons to educate everyone I meet about my marginalized statuses, especially when there is a high probability that I will be tokenized. I generally only have the spoons to discuss asexuality or trans topics with people who are questioning if they might be asexual or trans*.
The author implicates lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people in the piece by arguing that if all of them were to disclose, it would further movements for queer and trans equality. But I don’t have to disclose my asexuality or my trans status to further asexual visiblility and acceptance or trans equality. I can talk about asexuality and trans issues without the listener knowing I’m in either of those categories. I can be seen as a strong ally for asexual people without disclosing my own asexuality. My strong allyship would make it easier for other asexual people to publicly disclose, if they so desire.
And for my own peace of mind, I would much rather be seen outside asexual spaces as a strong ally to asexual people than be tokenized as the sole representative of all asexual people. No one ever has a responsibility to be publicly out at the expense of peace of mind. Because peace of mind cannot be broadly defined for everyone at once, the choice to be publicly out must reside with the individual alone.
* I object to referring to people as “hillbillies” in all cases: it’s a slur directed against poor people who live in mountainous areas in the U.S. that furthers the stereotype that poor people who live in mountainous areas are automatically ignorant or violent. I also object to the characterization of gun owners as being automatically violent people who reach for their guns at any opportunity.