Asexuality, hypothyroidism, and PTSD

This month’s Carnival of Aces topic is “living asexuality,” and since I saw this ask mention hypothyroidism, it’s been on my mind. I thought now would be a good time to explore it especially in light of this month’s topic. (Warning for medical talk, and brief mention of corrective rape, but mostly this is just focused on symptoms and treatments.)

I think I may have mentioned before that I have hypothyroidism, but I haven’t really gone into detail about what that’s been like—or, especially, its interactions with PTSD and how asexuality complicates both.

Laura also has hypothyroidism and wrote about her experiences here. It’s a pretty common disorder, and more common in cis women—I have met quite a few people who have had it over the years, both before and after I was diagnosed, and all of them by coincidence. Continue reading

Quick RFAS update on technical issues

Yesterday the RFAS email server apparently got messed up after an automated system recovery reboot. Users were unable to log in through web clients. There was also a Cloudflare DNS error that made two of the three clients not even load. Both of those issues should be fixed now. I posted more details about what was going on on the forum.

Another issue that’s going on is our server’s spam filter—I noticed several legit emails were going to my spam folder, mostly invite request forms. So if you never received an invite code, please check in with us or send a new invite request. I sent out invites for the requests that I found languishing in the spam folder this morning, so if you requested one a while ago, you may have one in your inbox now. Sorry for the delay!

If you’re on our team, I’d like you to try logging in to a web mail client, and check your spam folder. If you find anything legit in there, help us train the filter (instructions are in the same thread).

Our forum also has some minor technical glitches that need to be addressed still, but most of them will likely be addressed in the next major software release, so I’m waiting for that. However, I thought I’d put it out there that we’re looking for someone who can make plugins and/or a custom theme for us. You’d need to be familiar with php, javascript, MVC frameworks, and CSS.

So expect more changes ahead, and a bit of a bumpy road as we grapple with technical problems—hopefully not too bumpy! Thank you all for your patience.

Give my partner some questions to answer!

Three years ago C and I did an interview thing on here about being an allosexual/asexual couple, to show her perspective on what it’s like to date an asexual person. It’s the second most-linked post of all time, so it seems people were very interested! I thought it would be really good to do a follow-up interview, especially since in the last year she’s started to identify as aromantic. I asked her if she’d like me to gather some questions for her to answer, and she said, “Hey, yeah! That’d be fun!”

So let’s do that. I think it’d be a lot more interesting if other people ask her questions than if I try to come up with them myself, since I already know the answers. Plus, I probably won’t think about all the things that people might actually want to know. The questions don’t have to only be about our relationship or aromanticism, but those would probably be the most popular topics.

Here are some things about her (and us):

  • She is aromantic bisexual
  • She is a trans woman, and post-transition
  • We’ve been together for almost 7 years, but when we started dating it was accidental
  • We’re poly, and have been from the start—but being aromantic (and greyromantic) complicates things
  • We used to do some sexual stuff but we’ve been comfortably celibate for a while now—she has mostly lost interest for now
  • She has a lot of interesting thoughts about sexual attraction which she started writing out for a guest post years ago and never finished
  • She is INFJ and really strongly identifies with her Myers-Briggs type (I’m INTJ if you’re interested in relationship dynamics or something like that)
  • She likes outdoorsy things and is really knowledgeable about survival, camping, and hiking

So maybe all of that will give you something to work with.

I’ll leave this open for gathering questions for a while, and then post the whole thing on October 2nd. If you don’t want to ask the question publicly you can email them to me instead.

Ask away!

This survey has nothing to do with RFAS, and is really not okay

[TW: sexual violence, toxic community, erasure of survivors]

So I just got back from the hospital (I’m fine, I’m taking care of someone else), and found a link to this survey in my email. This has apparently been going around since August 1st?? But I didn’t even see it at all until now.

Which is terrible, considering I’ve been the one mainly holding down the fort at Resources for Ace Survivors through the first half of this month. Whoever made this up—it was not a researcher, I presume, because it lacks any kind of information about who is conducting the research and how it will be used—did not try to contact anyone at RFAS at all. This suggests to me that whoever made up the survey either may not be very experienced with the ace community, or may not really know or care much about ace survivors’ actual experiences. A cursory google search would have brought RFAS up, and it should be pretty obvious we’re the go-to place for that sort of stuff.  If Mysterious over there wanted participants, we would have been the place to ask.

This survey as written, though, is NOT safe or trauma-sensitive. In short, I recommend avoiding it. Some triggering details about this survey under the cut…

Continue reading

Let’s discuss how to deal with toxicity in our communities

I had planned to start this probably late this month or early next month, but in light of everything that’s been going on lately, I thought it might be best to start opening up an alternative place for discussing how to deal with the issues facing our community right now.

To that end, I’ve started the first Question-of-the-Week type feature at RFAS, and will start letting non-volunteer members into our private forum to host that discussion. Having more people around in the forum will also help us test everything and work out the bugs.

The question is: How do you deal with a toxic atmosphere in your communities? 

The deal with this is that there’s a public post open to everyone, and a private post for members only, for those who want a little more safety. I hope that this proves useful to everyone.

If you all have specific concerns or ideas about moderation policies, we also welcome those kinds of suggestions, but I’d like to mostly keep that separate from this discussion. The focus of this one should be more about mental health.

Edit: The invite request form had gotten messed up somehow, but it is fixed and working now. There may be a slight delay for emails to go through to us (like 15 minutes-ish), though.

Not cool, AVEN

In case you hadn’t heard yet, AVEN has been re-posting the full contents of copyrighted articles, including posts from asexual people’s personal blogswithout permission, and also without notice.

This is not only illegal, but it’s incredibly disrespectful and triggering. It shows a blatant disregard for consent, and it could actually be really dangerous for some people to have their personal stories posted in full at AVEN without permission.

Abusers can use things that they find online against their victims, and even if it is not necessarily a great risk for that person now, years down the line it might be. We all weigh risks very carefully when we post things online, at each place we share. People we know might hang out at AVEN, and we might not be okay with them knowing the stories we posted on our personal blogs, or want to be out to them at all—some of us are using pseudonyms for a reason. And you won’t be able to tell who is vulnerable to such things, because we don’t generally go around telling everyone.

I hate that there has been no distinction whatsoever between news articles posted by giant media companies and people’s personal blogs. The difference isn’t just about money, although it can be—but most of us aren’t making any money from blogging. It is unethical and potentially dangerous to do this to people. While it’s fine to link to articles at places like Wired or whatever as long as you don’t violate copyright laws, I think it’s much better to ask individual bloggers’ permission before even linking to their personal blogs. And it’s so much worse to copy and paste the entire contents of the post, because then if one day we need to remove some sensitive detail, we can’t do that ourselves—especially not if we don’t even know that it’s been posted somewhere else. I don’t care if it would “take forever” to try to contact an author before posting—you need to show some basic respect for them, and concern for their well-being. These are real people, and on top of that your own community members.

Some of us actually have posted guidelines right there on the blog, so you don’t even have to do that much work.

The Asexual Agenda’s contributors and several other people, most notably redbeardace, have been trying to get the mods to change their policy and all of the affected threads. They have actually started going through the threads and changing them to excerpts plus a link instead. So there have been a few steps forward… but also some steps back.

Yesterday, this thread was titled “Prismatic Entanglements: I was curious, so I chose to have sex! Then, my curiosity was satiated. I decided never to have sex again.” It included the full text of a guest post originally posted here by luvtheheaven, misleadingly conflated it with my writing, and on top of everything else it was lazily copied and pasted with no regard for formatting and including none of the links in the original.

Now, it is titled “Prismatic Entanglements blog” and the thread was combined with another thread featuring an anonymous submission to the Carnival of Aces, which I didn’t write either. And nothing else.

I think it’s even more misleading now. The thread is presented as if it is my writing, but then features none of it. The two guest posters are barely credited. Neither of them should have even been dragged into this, and since one of them was anonymous, I have no way of contacting them to find out if they would have been okay with this. I just have to hope that they see this.

The worst thing about all this is just how clueless the people at AVEN have been, especially the mods. That this has been the official policy? And that when concerns were raised, this was the response?

Not cool, guys. Get it together.

Blog Rants: The Early Ace Blogosphere

This post is part of a series and cross-posted to The Asexual Agenda; you can view the masterpost here. It also fits the theme of the July Carnival of Aces on Asexual History, although it’s slightly late!

Previously, I contextualized my personal history with both blogging and the asexual community leading up to my decision to join WordPress. Now, I want to talk about the formation and history of the Ace Blogosphere proper. Continue reading

June 2015 Carnival of Aces Round-Up: Mental Health

This past month we’ve had a lot of really important conversations about mental health. It is my hope that these will serve as a point to ground future attempts to educate therapists in the actual lived experiences of the aces who most desperately need their care. Too often, in their haste to de-pathologize asexuality, asexual activists say “We’re not broken!” and forget about those of us who really might be. No effort to educate health care professionals will be acceptable if in doing so we continue to minimize and stigmatize aces who do face mental illness.

We should neither have to pretend to feel happy and never distressed or confused about asexuality in order to convince the world it’s okay to be ace, nor play up our problems or say they are all because of asexuality in order to gain “oppressed enough” status.

So please read these entries with that in mind. I’ve organized them into three categories based on theme. Personal narratives and discussion of the asexual community were so often paired that I found it easier to combine them. The second most frequent theme was about therapy and barriers to treatment. Finally, we had some discussion of how we can cope and support one another.

Personal Narratives and Asexual Community Discourse

Laura (hella-non-mono) wrote about having Binge Eating Disorder. This post spawned a lot of good conversations (check out the notes), and then an entirely new blog specifically for the intersection of asexuality and eating disorders (as well as other body image-related issues).

Thicketofcomplication shared her story [tw: sexual assault mention, hypersexuality, mention of sex, self-harm, dissociation, drinking].

Laura P. wrote about how isolation, erasure, and invalidation have affected her mental health.

Jon wrote about the complicated tangle of asexuality, neurodivergence, and bipolar illness. [tw: abuse, suicide ideation, compulsory sexuality]

Aqua wrote about asexuality and codependency. [tw: sexual coercion, emotional abuse, invalidation]

Queenie wrote about what having PTSD is like. [tw: sexual assault mention]

Sara at Flying While Falling Down wrote about deciding not to talk about sexual assault anymore. [strong TW for rape, abuse, not being believed, self-harm, eating disorder, suicide attempts, pregnancy]

The Anonymous Asexual wrote about how assertions that “asexuals aren’t broken” hurt. [tw: gaslighting, ableism related to mental illness, brief mentions of trauma]

Tristefere wrote about the way that the asexual community’s respectability politics harm, and how the simplistic narrative around mental illness needs to change. [tw: depression, anxiety, suicide ideation, Oppression Olympics]

Soodalgwayeou wrote about identity crisis, self-questioning, and invalidation. [tw: brief mention of childhood abuse, corrective therapy]

Kria wrote about sexual self-harm, and a delayed realization of asexuality because of it. [tw: self-harm, sex discussion, depression, some abuse mentions—nothing graphic, however]

Maris wrote about neurodivergence, anxiety, and doubting their asexuality. [tw: mentions of abuse, sexual trauma, homophobia, suicidal implications]

Demisexual and Proud hosted a series of responses: 1, 23, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 [tw: Number 8 mentions sexual assault and victim-blaming.]

Morgaine has won wrote about how difficult it is to figure out whether or not identities were caused by trauma. [tw: emotional abuse mention, sexual abuse mention, grooming mention, emotional numbness, dissociation]


Therapy and Barriers to Treatment

An anonymous person offered a South Korean perspective on asexuality and mental health. [tw: erasure, invalidation, abuse, suicidal ideation]

Laura P.’s second submission dealt with obstacles to therapy as an asexual Muslim convert.

Stormy wrote about why it’s okay to refuse therapy. [tw: medical abuse, therapist abuse, rape mention]

Epochryphal wrote about CBT and the sneakiness of therapeutic abuse. [tw: gaslighting, abuse, self-blame, invalidation]

Alice wrote about relationship status and sexual orientation as gatekeeping for transition, and the importance of ace affirmative therapy.

Nicola wrote about difficulties finding competent treatmenttherapy that works and doesn’t work [tw: invalidation, ableism]

Writer Ace wrote about the need for therapists and schools to make spaces explicitly safe for asexuals.

Coping and Support

Elaine wrote about her mental health leaving her with few options other than marriage for financial security, and the bind that would put her in due to asexuality and Islam. [tw: compulsory sexuality, some discussion of marriage as prostitution]

I wrote an overview of components of resilience, which helps me to identify how I can fortify my own ability to cope. (Cross-posted to RFAS, where I will likely write a further breakdown in the future.)

Nicola’s third and fourth submissions were about community and coping, and support.

Hope for Aces, a “dedicated space for asexual spectrum, aromantic spectrum, and sex-/romance-repulsed people to discuss eating disorders, body dysmorphia, or other body-image or food-related issues,” was created. There have been a lot of good posts geared towards coping and supporting one another there!


July 2015

The next carnival will be held at Next Step: Cake, and the topic is “Asexual History.” If you’d like to volunteer to host a future carnival, please do so at the Carnival of Aces Masterpost.

You can still submit late entries until the end of July, and I will edit this post to add them in. After that, please continue discussing! You can send in links from before or after the carnival to Resources for Ace Survivors, and we will feature them on our Asexuality and Mental Health page. This blog and RFAS are both still open to hosting guest posts.

Please let me know if I’ve missed anything! Thank you all so much for participating. :)

Last call for submissions

June is now over! That means the Carnival of Aces is moving on.

I’ll post the round-up in the next couple of days. In the meantime, you can see what entries I’ve received here. If yours is not on the list, please resubmit!

Also, some of you go by different names and I’m not always sure which to use, so if you have a preference, let me know. I may have also missed a trigger warning here and there, so if you see something else that needs tagging, let me know.

This is a particularly difficult topic and I know some of you are still working on your submissions. That’s okay! I may even post a late one as well. I’ll accept late submissions through the end of this month. After that, you can still write on the topic and have your post featured at the RFAS Asexuality & Mental Health page—there is no deadline for that.

And you can still submit anonymous guest posts, or submit in a format other than text.

The July carnival will be held at Next Step: Cake.

Major Victory, Minor Aggressions

Everyone is aware of this by now, of course, but the Supreme Court of the U.S. announced today that same-sex marriage is legal everywhere in the country.

It was sweet news to wake up to this morning. I’m not about to go get married—it was already legal where I live, and my partner and I aren’t ready for that right now, although we’ve seriously considered it a lot in the past—but it’s wonderful to know that if we do, we won’t have to worry about it not being recognized should we decide to travel to my home state or the state where most of my extended family lives. By now I’m out (about dating women only) to most of them, too, and especially on my dad’s side, they’re mostly pretty accepting or at least willing to let it be—because they were already used to the idea.

It’s great to know that my uncle, who paved the way for that side of my family to (at least halfway) accept me, can now get married to his partner if he so desires. I wonder if we’ll be getting an invitation at some point soon.

But of course, this war isn’t over. I was reminded of that when my partner and I went to the grocery store today. The check-out clerk rather rudely said that we “spend too much money at this store” and that we’re “always here.” We tend to go at least twice a week, but we only buy a little bit at a time (and there are health-related reasons for that I won’t get into, but let me just note that it’s shitty on multiple levels to make that kind of comment). I’m fairly sure that she just always notices us when we are there because we’re That Lesbian Couple. No matter where we go, we’re always noticed. I’d like one day for people to be so used to it they never give us a second thought. In any case, it seems very likely that the ruling this morning may have been the reason why that clerk decided to comment on our visibility today.

Employment discrimination is still a big issue that both C and I have faced within the last year, and I hope that we’ll see work on inclusive non-discrimination acts soon. As well as a whole bunch of other issues that are a lot more social than legal.

And of course, there are still many places around the world where this victory isn’t won yet.

But today? It’s a good day. This is not a trivial victory—it’s one that has taken decades. I hope that this trend will continue, and make all our other battles a little bit easier.