Tag Archives: agender

A is for Asexual

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LGBT is an acronym most people have heard of. LGBTQ is less well-known, but still pretty recognisable. LGBTQI is not so well-known. LGBTQIA even less so. But despite the fact that the more letters there are in the acronym, the more people don’t know what it means, letters still keep getting added, in order to be inclusive of as many identities as possible. And although it’s a slow process, they are becoming more and more recognisable.

But problems arise when people don’t know what the letters mean. The biggest culprit of this is the letter A. There is an incredible number of allies who claim that the A is their letter. What’s even more astounding is the number of LGBT+ groups that seem to agree with them. Now this is problematic for a number of reasons:

1. Ally is not a minority identity. It’s not really an identity at all as far as the actual LGBT+ identities are concerned. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, pansexual… They relate to sexual orientation. Trans, intersex… They relate to sex and gender. But being an ally is nothing like that. Allies have just made the decision to be decent human beings.

2. When allies claim the A as their own, it contributes to the erasure of several already fairly unknown identities, the most prominent being asexual. Allies are there to support the LGBT+ community. Pulling out the rug from under asexual, agender, and aromantic people and stepping on their faces is not very supportive.

3. It’s a goddamn paradox! Including allies in the LGBT+ acronym means that they are a part of that community. But ally by definition is a supportive third party. How can people be allies of the LGBT+ community if they’re already a part of it? Exactly, they can’t. It goes against the entire definition of the word ally. But if adding allies to the acronym removes their allyness and they disappear from the acronym in a puff of logic, then they’d just become allies again! Do people not learn this from theories of time travel? Paradoxes are bad. Stop. Making. Them.

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Transgender is not a Gender

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Rather, it is a type of gender. Having ‘male’, ‘female’, and ‘transgendered’ as the gender options in a survey is ridiculous. It’s as bad as having ‘transgender male’, ‘transgender female’, and ‘cisgendered’ as the options. And both are almost as bad as having ‘cisgendered’ and ‘transgendered’ as the only options. The formers tell us only half of the participants’ actual genders. The latter tells us nothing at all. Having ‘transgendered’ as the only extra gender option on top of ‘male’ and ‘female’ is not being inclusive. It’s just a really bad attempt. If someone really wants their survey to be inclusive of all genders, then their options should be ‘male’, ‘female’, ‘bigender’, ‘androgynous’, and ‘agender’ (and there are probably even more floating around out there). Or, if it’s really that important to them that they know the transstate (I just made that word up…) of their participants, then have ‘cis male’, ‘cis female’, ‘transgender male’, ‘transgender female’, ‘transsexual male’, ‘transsexual female’ as the options instead of plain old ‘male’ and ‘female’. Or, better, yet, just have a blank box to type in.

But gender is not the only culprit, oh no. Sexuality is a huge one. Surveys usually ask about sexuality in one of two ways. The first is to ask participants what their sexuality is, out of ‘straight’, ‘gay’, or ‘bi’. The second is to ask participants if they are interested in ‘men’, ‘women’, or ‘both’. Sigh. We’ve already established that there are more than two genders, so clearly that second method needs more options. But that first method is insanely wrong! Sure, there’s ‘heterosexual’, ‘homosexual’, and ‘bisexual’ – but what about ‘androgenosexual’, ‘androsexual’, ‘gynosexual’, ‘pansexual’, ‘polysexual’, ‘asexual’, ‘greysexual’, and ‘demisexual’ (and again, there are probably even more around)? And then there’s all the romantic types…

Seriously, with all these possible labels out there, is it really that hard to just ask people what they identify as? Must we really make little multiple choice answers for them to neatly categorise themselves into? Now I’ve never made a survey before, but surely it can’t be too difficult to have a little typing box instead of a bunch of options to choose from. If anything, it seems like it would be easier!