Question of the Week: June 5th, 2018.

How have medical professionals or therapists handled your being ace?

content warning: discussion of forced sexuality on aces

When I told my family doctor she was unphased and supportive. She buys books that might help her patients and gave me several on being queer in case I found them useful. Years later I still find that a very touching memory.

Therapists largely ignore my asexuality unless I bring it up, which is both good and bad. At different times being ace has beenĀ a relatively non-eventful part of my life and at others it was something I needed to discuss but didn’t feel comfortable doing so. It’s been very confusing to experience repulsion, aversion, and non-attraction, while also simultaneously desiring a romantic and sexual relationship. I was sixteen when I first shared that with a therapist and she encouraged me to explore my sexuality in a very heteronormative way, by myself and with a person I had a crush on but was also deeply repulsed by. In a medical sense it must have appeared to my therapist that I wanted something, my repulsion was in the way, and so my repulsion needed to be cured. It turned out my repulsion was partly just who I was and partly a legitimate fear. I walked into and stayed in a situation that was very bad for me because I thought fear and pain was the only way sexuality could be for me until I got over it. That mentality prevented me from realizing I was in legitimate fear and pain. Instead of pushing past or ignoring the repulsion as my therapist encouraged me to do, I needed to listen to it. I am still slowly learning to distinguish between “normal Talia” levels of aversion I want to work with and repulsion that indicates I do not want to be with this person.

About Talia

Talia is an asexual, nonbinary, vegan-feminist that drinks a lot of coffee and stays up very late playing Blizzard video games and writing fiction. They are working on a PhD in Environmental Studies where they think a lot about oppression as intersectional and impacting identities differentially. Talia has a particular fondness for asexuality, fandom, and Critical Animal Studies. Their personal blog is
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6 Responses to Question of the Week: June 5th, 2018.

  1. A says:

    It’s been a few years since then. Back then, I thought it would be beneficial to be (mostly) open and honest about who I was as a person. When I told my therapist that I considered myself asexual (already for seven years, at that point), he reacted with doubt.

    I don’t exactly remember if he told me that it didn’t exist or if he thought that my mental health issues played a part in it or both, but he was quick to assure me that it wasn’t a real thing. We never openly discussed the topic again because, I suppose, I was too afraid of the potential confrontation. He, as an opinionated older (supposedly straight) man, simply intimidated me. At that point, I was also dealing with difficult thoughts after suffering a sudden, heavy personal loss, so I wasn’t exactly up to defending the only part of myself I’ve ever felt certainty about.

    Anyway, so this therapist started advising me to date. And, to a point, I could understand his reasoning. But. I was in mourning. And I’m just not the kind of person who would go into a club with the intention to chat up strangers–which seemed to be the general direction of his advice. It’s something I’ve never done as a teen and nothing I’ve, so far, planned to do as an adult. I told him this. But he didn’t stop.

    It never reached the level of outright pestering, but I always got the feeling that he was somehow bothered by the fact that I–a young, (to his knowledge) straight woman–didn’t make myself “available.” That I was being prudish and just needed a real man to ~show me the ropes~ and finally enjoy life. This, of course, is all heavy projection on my part. I never told my therapist about these feelings because he already gave me enough invalidating feedback on other topics that, to this day, still make me, as a victim of emotional abuse, afraid of starting another therapy and opening up like this again.

    However, now after three draining years, I’m actually in the process of looking for a new therapist. But I’m already dreading the question if I should just come out with my asexuality again or not. And I hate it because it shouldn’t be important. Even if my asexuality were somehow influenced by my other issues, it has never been a problem I wanted to “cure away.” There are so many things I want and need solutions for… But not this. This is actually one of the very few things about myself that I’m OK with. It makes me sad.

    (Sorry for the rant.)

  2. Elana says:

    So I somewhat accidentally came out to my therapist and she’s been good about it. She doesn’t know much about it, but has been receptive to me explaining it and has never once suggested that it’s a problem or that it’s a problem to be queer on the basis of being ace. I hadn’t planned to tell her because it’s not a problem in my life, but it’s relevant to other parts of my life where there are things I need to talk about. I think it helps that I suspect she herself is queer. I was really scared to bring it up, so I just wanted to let other people know that it can go very smoothly.

  3. My therapist said that maybe I identify as asexual because I had very serious self-esteem issues (I hated myself at the time). It was really painful.

  4. As a general rule, I distrust medical professionals, likely because I was raised by a mother who believed in holistic healing and a father who likes the “You can take care of anything yourself, just rub some dirt in it” mentality.
    So, despite probably needing it, the closest I’ve gotten to therapy in recent years is to see the councilor at my college a few weeks in a row before I graduated to get my anxiety about the real world somewhat squared away. At that point, I presented my asexuality as an issue there would be no dissenting upon and she did not pursue the topic in any way.

    The doctor at the local clinic, who I had to see several times to get cleared to go abroad, is very straight laced and Mormon and assumed I was using asexuality as an excuse to keep my peers from trying to pressure me into sex. She encouraged me to continue my current lifestyle because I should save sex for marriage. It was a funny conversation because we were both uncomfortable with the question of my sexual history and I stumbled my way through explaining my preferences (or lack thereof) and she promised me she would recommend a pap smear unless I had sex, almost like a threat.

  5. astarlia says:

    yeah….. my therapist who is normally really good about things was pretty dismissive when i talked about being ace. This hasn’t really impacted our sessions, because i wasn’t going there for that, and we can still talk a lot about my relationships etc. I totally understand why people would be reluctant to bring it up though.

  6. Seth says:

    I live near Porland, OR, and all the therapists I’ve seen have been gender specialists, as part of the transition process, so my experience has been mostly positive (setting aside the fact that therapy is nothing more than gatekeeping to me). Asexuality comes up every time, but only briefly. Worst that’s happened so far is one therapist asking something to the effect of whether I only ID as ace because of my dysphoria. I said, “No”, and the conversation moved on.

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