Question of the Week: October 16th, 2018.

Do you identify as disabled or neurodiverse and how does this interact with your asexuality? 

I was at a queer women’s disability conference recently and to the surprise of no-one asexuality was not discussed very much.  The first time it came up was around how many disabled people have to fight hard not to be read as asexual.  This made me curious about if disabled people that *were* ace had conflicted feelings about being read that way.

The other time it was up was an autistic bisexual women mentioned that there is a high correlation between autistic people and asexual people, and this is the only time I heard asexuality mentioned in a positive and inclusive light.

Do you have experience with overlaps in any of these spaces, either personally or in conversations you’ve observed?



About astarlia

Astarlia is proud of herself for only having volunteered for..... okay if you have to stop and count it's probably too many things isn't it? She is passionate about nerd culture, disability and mental health, alternative relationships, sexuality, and young adult fiction.
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10 Responses to Question of the Week: October 16th, 2018.

  1. Carmilla DeWinter says:

    Well, hereabouts also seems to be a social agreement that disabled people do not do (or: are not to do) sex and/or relationships. It’s like people do not want to think about it, therefore it cannot be. Mostly, it’s disabled persons who point out this issue in blogs etc.
    There’s a book covering this prejudice floating around, too, which I only stumbled upon because it’s got “asexuality” as a tag.
    My personal overlaps are very small, though. I’ve met neurodiverse and physically disabled aces, but I’m semi-close to only one chronically ill person.

  2. I.C. says:

    As an autistic ace I often get frustrated by the ‘we can be sexual too!’ narrative often spun by advocacy groups. In the one hand, yes, I can appreciate that there are some for who this message is very necessary. On the other hand, for me, it’s just more of the noxious stuff I see everywhere else in society but this time directed specifically at me. I find it intensely uncomfortable at best and downright infuriating at worst. I don’t want people to think of me sexually at all, so I hate that people are advocating for that, even though intellectually I know some people find that to be a problem for them.

    On the other hand I’m also an ace that does want to pursue a romantic relationship so that also factors into things. I don’t want people to read me as un-datable but I also don’t want to be viewed sexually. It’s a complex issue.

    • Sarah says:

      (+ the additional complexities of navigating queer/lesbian spaces that often seem to fight for overly sexual representation in order to be visible)

  3. Satsuma says:

    I’m three for three with this one! I’m asexual, neurodiverse, and disabled. I don’t have a ‘visible’ disability so I haven’t really experienced being disexualized because of my disability (I’ve had a few instances of infantalization/assumption of mental incompetance though, which typically goes hand in hand)

    I will say it makes dating extremely awkward though. Like, if someone asks me even fairly basic questions about my life the fact that I’m chronically ill is going to come out pretty quickly, but it’s also pretty personal information for me, and is often categorized as “oversharing.” Asexuality, similarly, you often get told that its “disingenuous” to not disclose the fact that you’re ace, but if you do, then thats also potentially awkward/overly personal for someone you’ve literally just met.

    My social skills are NOT up to doing both at the same time, so I’ve more or less been out of the dating scene since I got sick

  4. Silvermoon says:

    I’m another autistic ace here!
    I worked out I was ace well before I worked out + was diagnosed autistic– I actually figured out the latter because I was in a share house with 2 queer allo autistic people. It seems really strange to me that people assume that disabled people are ace, but to be honest I never really see that- I pretty much only see people posting stuff in reaction and saying “disabled/neurodiverse people aren’t ace!” Which puts me a bit on the defense haha.

    Also, I hear people talk shit about disabled people (e.g. my manager/coworkers, who don’t know I’m autistic, say shit about autistic people- or anyone different to them, really) but asexuality isn’t even on their radar??
    The only thing I imagine comes close is when non disabled assume that disabled people are too childlike to have a sexuality. Which is a big issue, but also still isn’t asexuality??

  5. Zoe says:

    My brother falls on the autistic spectrum and he is 110% not ace. It drives him up the wall that I’m the one who isn’t interested and he’s the one who wants all the sex but we get treated the opposite.

  6. Seth says:

    I have an ASD diagnosis. Interestingly, someone in a Discord server I’m in recently linked to an online ASD test, and one of the questions it asks is “Are you asexual?” (That test concluded that I’m probably NT.)

  7. Oliver says:

    One of the main frustrations I have with so many allo disabled activists treat desexualization as a cause, when it’s just a symptom. Desexualization and over sexualization/fetishization in marginalized groups both come from the same problem- a lack of sexual autonomy for people who belong to that marginalized group. Fat people are often desexualized, yet also have to deal with fetishists who think that they’re progressive because they’ll fuck a fat person. See also the stereotypes of the Jezebel and the Mammy- black women can only be sexually aggressive or unattractive and useless outside of raising white children. Autonomy is the issue in all of these examples- an oppressor group largely views a marginalized group through the lens of sex, relegating each member of the marginalized group to “sex object” or “unfuckable”. From there, their value is derived from these two categories. It’s objectification. Disabled people aren’t people, they’re sex toys, to be used or discarded but never respected.

  8. Kelby says:

    In my experience, I’ve never found that I have to fight hard to not be seen as ace, or that anyone sees me as ace by default. On the contrary, many have tried to tell me that I can’t know that I’m asexual and aromantic because I am autistic. These people insist that I must be straight, but just…not capable of understanding relationships or other people well enough to realize that — or something like that.

    I’ve also been thrown under the bus repeatedly by fellow autistics, who say that to acknowledge that an autistic person could have my orientation is dehumanizing.

    Given those experiences… I don’t really think it’s right to say that we have to fight to be read as non-asexual. Embracing an asexual identity clearly isn’t acceptable to ableists either. As for what we ARE read as, I’m not entirely sure. I suppose we’re viewed as not having enough sexual agency, and that includes agency to know and describe our orientations as anything other than heterosexual?

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