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Dating as asexual is hard because it is incredibly difficult for allosexual people to understand a sexual identity that does not center sex.

I marathon-watched season five of “Bojack Horseman” in a single day because of who I am as a person. It's been a couple months since the season dropped on Netflix, but it's still on my mind, especially Todd's story. Despite the show’s issues with white actors voicing characters of color (and the, ya know, normalized beastiality), it's still one of my favorite things Netflix has ever brought to life—a guilty pleasure, more or less. One of the reasons I keep watching it is Todd Chavez. Not because he's an incredibly well fleshed out character, in fact, it's quite the opposite. Todd is a habitual couch-surfer and self-saboteur, an accidental genius who stumbles his way into various powerful, decision-making roles, a regular Captain Obvious who somehow simultaneously takes an inordinate amount of twists and turns to monologue his way to simple point of truth that everyone else in the room already arrived at eons ago. The most interesting thing about Todd, for me, is his place as one of the few asexual characters visible in the media, and his asexuality is explicitly stated. It's not something left ambiguous for fans to speculate about, the way many have done with Dexter Morgan, Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance of Sherlock Holmes, Sheldon Cooper, The Doctor, and Jessica Rabbit. In fact, Todd's most compelling storylines revolve around him reckoning with his asexuality, coming out, and navigating the dating world as someone on the spectrum. In the most recent season, Todd is dating a fellow asexual, Yolanda. When she takes him home to meet her family in episode three, “Planned Obsolescence”, it's revealed that Yolanda’s father is a best-selling erotic novelist, her mother is world-renowned adult film star, and her twin sister is a sex advice columnist. Her family is obsessed with sex. So much so that her father exclaims things like “As I jizz and breathe!” and tries desperately to gift Yolanda and Todd an obscenely large barrel of personal lubricant, a family heirloom, her great grandmother's recipe, with hopes that they will use it to have sex in the family home that night. Eventually, this absurdity culminates with the entire family covered in lube and Yolanda screaming, “I'm asexual!” in the midst of a slippery fight with her twin sister who is determined to seduce Todd. But Yolanda’s coming out doesn't happen where we can see it. Immediately after this is a time jump, indicated by a title card that reads: “One thorough but respectful dialogue later.” If only coming out as asexual were this easy and headache-free. I assure you, it is not. In the end, they break up. The only thing they have in common is their shared asexuality, Todd notes, with a sadness in his voice. He knows they shouldn't resign to dating each other simply because they are the only asexual people they know. That is not how human connection, emotional investment, and relationship-building work. Todd assures her that there is a guy for her who is smart and accomplished and impressive. “Who also doesn't want to have sex?” she interrupts. “Yeah, probably,” he responds. “...But what if there isn't?” [caption id="attachment_50218" align="aligncenter" width="800"] courtesy of Netflix[/caption] This is a fair question from Yolanda, and one that I can absolutely feel the weight of. Meeting other asexual people is not nearly as simple as meeting allosexual people. We're only about 1% of the population, as far as we know. The thing is that asexuality is still such an obscure topic to most people, to the point where some people don't even know that it even exists, there are a significant number of people who are on the asexuality spectrum but are simply unaware because of this glaring gap in discourse about sexuality and orientation. So, yes, it can be exceedingly difficult for us to meet other asexuals, and it is even more difficult for us to meet allosexual people who are interested in dating us and also willing to respectfully accept that we do not experience normative sexual attractions and/or normative sexual desires. Cultivating the kind of comfortability, intimacy, and trust with someone that I need to truly be able to enjoy sex is exhausting, especially if I have to explain my sexuality to them a dozen times in the process, and the mere thought of going through this is often anxiety-inducing. Dating as asexual is hard for a lot of reasons, largely because so many people don't understand what it is to begin with, and because of that misunderstanding, many people see it as a challenge. This, among other acephobic sentiments, unfortunately leads to asexual discrimination and sexual violence, such as corrective rape. Dating as asexual is hard because we are supposed to be a part of the LGBTQIA+ acronym, but we often aren't even considered as part of the queer community. Gatekeepers continually try to push us out, and if they say we don't belong here, then where? Dating as asexual is hard because living in a sexually repressed society that is also constantly throwing sex in our faces (much like Yolanda’s family) causes most people to view asexuality as an unnatural impossibility, even a rude position to take, unable to comprehend the fact that it is not a choice, anymore than anyone else's sexuality is. Dating as asexual is hard because it is incredibly difficult for allosexual people to understand a sexual identity that does not center sex. Dating, for us, involves nuances that the vast majority of allosexual people simply do not have to think about on the level that people on the asexuality spectrum do. Some asexual people still engage in sex acts, for valid reasons that are our own, but many of us have no desire for sex at all. For people who fall on this end of the asexuality spectrum, trying to navigate the dating world often leaves us in unsafe spaces, in which we are coerced or pressured into sex, pressured into presenting as and performing a sexuality that is not natural for us. We get accused of being “a fucking tease” for simply being ourselves and have our boundaries disrespected by people who we thought we could trust. It is true that many people experience this pressure on some level, especially non-men, but experiencing this while asexual adds another layer. In the same way that my Blackness and my fatness create additional layers to my sexualization.
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Although visibility has come far in the trans and gender non-conforming community, it is important that we keep our youth in mind.

Navigating my gender identity as a transgender woman has been an arduous yet fulfilling journey. I grew up during a time when trans visibility wasn’t gaining the traction that we see today. As a young child, growing up in a Southern Baptist family in North Carolina, I was always seen as the black sheep or “the one who stood out”. I loved to wear my grandmother’s high heels and I would wear towels on my head to mimic long, flowing hair. I was mocked and ridiculed in school when all the boys went through puberty, and I was the kid whose voice remained one octave higher than what was preferred. I was called every kind of homophobic slur you can think of, and often I didn’t feel comfortable expressing myself as I felt too alienated. In 2017, following the backlash behind Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Channel 4 interview, Laverne Cox took to twitter, and had this to say: “I was talking to my twin brother today about whether he believes I had male privilege growing up. I was a very feminine child though I was assigned male at birth. My gender was constantly policed. I was told I acted like a girl and was bullied and shamed for that. My femininity did not make me feel privileged.” Laverne went on to say: “So though I was assigned male at birth I would contend that I did not enjoy male privilege prior to my transition. Patriarchy and cissexism punished my femininity and gender nonconformity.” Many transgender men, women and non binary people alike, can relate to having felt punished growing up for not sticking to the status quo of the gender binary, because we were anything but cisgender, even if we did not have the language to understand it. We all know the challenges that come with childhood, as youth navigate school life, peer pressure and puberty, and growing up to find their place in the world. Adding on the layer of being TGNC (transgender/gender non-conforming), reveals a harsh reality. A survey conducted by GLSEN, reveals 65% of transgender students feel unsafe at school, in addition to facing verbal and physical harassment regarding their gender identity. According to The Williams Institute, an estimated 150,000 youth identify as transgender or gender non-conforming (TGNC), making the highest percentage of individuals in the United States who identify as TGNC. These statistics however, underrepresent the vast majority of youth who are unreported and those who have not come out yet.
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Listen to trans women who come forward and give us the resources we need to heal.

[TW: description and mention of r/pe, PTSD and transmisogyny.] The weekend of August 24th, 2018 marks 5 years since I was raped in my dorm room at Temple University in Philadelphia. My life was completely turned upside down by the assault, my dreams shattered and I’ll never get to achieve them. Everything I wanted to happen, won’t. Is it possible to reflect on something too much when it completely reshaped my life and the dreams and vision I had for it? No, I don’t think so. When I first reported what happened, it wasn’t by choice—no, a bureaucrat in Temple’s Residential Life office had forced me to tell that story. They caused me to go through something that was a violation in its own right, for me. They forced me to relive—multiple times—one of the most violent experiences of my life. I remember that day in the bureaucrat’s office like it was yesterday. It’s painful to be able to relive the experience, I relive the trauma that was dealing with reporting the rapes every day; although the rape itself has fortunately slightly faded from my memory. I still remember it, I still weep and mourn that day, yet I don’t feel its pangs as much anymore. I hope that, one day, I can even stop mourning. Is it possible that my life wouldn’t have been completely overturned by the rape if I was given the proper treatment? Yes. I don’t simply guess at the idea that my life would have turned out differently had I been given the proper resources, I know that it would have been. Colleges—despite their legal responsibility— aren’t equipped with the tools to provide adequate rape treatment and, trans women are not served as a population by rape counseling services. It’s known that rape survivors who get treatment, whatever that treatment may be, have better chances of recovering from their rape and have reduced PTSD outcomes. However, I didn’t receive that treatment. My school didn’t provide resources that actually met the needs I had post-rape, it also never provided the resources I needed to deal with unrelated stalking incidents either, it just didn’t have me on their radar. They made this clear when they told me that they didn’t provide services to survivors of rape and stalking with me later finding out that, in fact, they did. Another, more helpful, bureaucrat in the college let me know that they’ve helped people before.
Related: DON’T BE A TERF: TRANSMISOGYNY 101

Reina Gossett is a visionary and her work deserves prestige and compensation. 

As a writer and an organizer, I get a warm flush a few times a month when I get a shout out on social media from my many peers and colleagues in queer feminist POC networks. The last one that gave me real pause was the incomparable make-up artist Umber Ghauri of Brown Beauty Standards who let the world know that I did one of my usual backstage hook-ups for a great campaign celebrating trans women’s beauty for the End Violence Against Women campaign. Reina Gossett is a historical researcher, writer, filmmaker and activist who has been receiving the antithesis of the aforementioned warm treatment that comes from community solidarity and compassionate collaboration. She’s been done real dirty in the furore which has surrounded the Netflix documentary film “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson”. If you are unfamiliar with what I am talking about, Gossett accused David France, the director, of capitalizing on her years of  research and ideas for the film I spoke with David France, just to get a measure of the man. I was not interested in the pernickety back and forth of accusations, allegations, defensiveness and labored partial truth seeking. The expansion of digital media has enlarged the court of public opinion exponentially to an extent that would boggle the minds of television watchers. In this era where many are concerned about the not-that-new phenomenon of 'fake news', the thoroughness of journalistic endeavor hasn't been diluted across the board. It seems that David France believes that because he had "trans and gender non-conforming people from the very top of our production to the bottom of our production” that it could exempt him from criticism of his cisgender white gaze and perhaps even invalidate Reina’s claims that her labor was exploited.
Related: MARSHA P. JOHNSON’S LIFE ISN’T WHITE PEOPLE’S STORY TO TELL

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