In this series, we interview a variety of Disabled Aces with diverse backgrounds in honor of #DisabledAceDay and in conjunction with Ace Week.
For this chapter of our Disabled Ace Day series, I had the joy of interviewing Amaranthe Rae Zinzani (who specifies that her first name is pronounced “A-muh-ranth”). Amaranthe is from Chicago and is both married and gray-asexual. If you enjoy reading about her experiences as much as I did, she has multiple blogs covering a wide range of topics, so make sure to check them out, because there is more where that comes from!
Please introduce yourself! How do you identify in terms of asexuality, disability, passions, professions, or anything else you’d like to share with us?
Hi! My name is Amaranthe. I am polyromantic gray-asexual; the only person I have ever been sexually attracted to is my wife, with whom I have been with for a little over three years. I am polyromantic in that I am romantically attracted to multiple genders; I am not interested in people whose gender identity is entirely “man,” but there’s no label for that.
In terms of disability, I am Autistic. I also have depression, anxiety, CPTSD, OSDD-1, BPD, and OSFED. Additionally, I have anemia for which I’m being treated and a hiatal hernia for which I’m having surgery later this year.
As far as other identities, I’m a cis woman who also is autigender (I feel like my gender functions as an Autistic special interest in being a woman). I’m also white, a Jewish conversion student, highly educated, and perpetually broke.
I’m extremely passionate about music and am working on a concept album about my escape from an abusive home. I’m also passionate about queer and disability justice. I am also a writer; I maintain three blogs and hope to publish a novel one day.
Professionally, I am a medical editor.
How do your asexual and disabled identities interact with one another and what unique challenges have you faced while living at this intersection?
I’ve had multiple people tell me that I am only asexual because I am Autistic. This, I think, is due to the desexualization of Disabled people. I feel like desexualization happens because ableist people think of Disabled sexuality as “gross,” or they infantilize us to the point that they don’t think we ever developed sexual agency.
People telling me I’m only asexual because I’m Autistic is also acemisic/acephobic because it pathologizes asexuality. There’s nothing wrong with disability influencing queerness--caedsexual, caedromantic, autigender, acevague, arovague, etc. people all exist and are totally valid; in fact, I am autigender--but saying that someone’s sexuality is a symptom of their disability is fucked up.
Have you personally experienced any ableism from within the asexual or other LGBTQ2IA+ communities?
Unfortunately, LGBTQ2IAP+ people are no better about ableism than zedcishets, I’ve found. But ableism hurts worst when it comes from other queer people, especially zedsexual queer people saying that asexuality is a disorder (both acemisic AND ableist).
What also really hurts is when abled asexual people crow about how their hormone levels are totally normal, they aren’t depressed, they aren’t on psych meds, they’re not Autistic, etc. etc., so none of those things could be causing their asexuality. That’s both ableist and laterally acemisic.
Have you personally experienced any acephobia from the disability community?
Yes. Just as LGBTQ2IAP+ people are no better about ableism than zedcishets, D/disabled people are no better about acemisia than abled people. I’ve even seen D/disabled people who are offended by the idea that they might be asexual or who make blanket statements about how “D/disabled people fuck” or what have you. This is done in response to the desexualization of D/disabled people, which is ableist, and I get that, but D/disabled aces often are erased by those efforts to combat desexualization.
What advice do you have for folks who wish to become better allies to disabled aces?
Acknowledge that we exist, mostly. Don’t erase us. And don’t suggest/insist that we’re asexual because we’re D/disabled (although if someone is caedsexual, they are asexual due to trauma, and 1) that’s fine and 2) it’s not okay to assume all asexual people are caedsexual) or that asexuality is a disorder. Oh, and don’t assume we’re asexual because you think nobody would ever date/fuck a D/disabled person; that’s not how that works
Shameless self-promotion time! Do you have a business, project, artwork, or other content we should know about? Give us those links!
I have three blogs: my music blog, my disability justice blog, and my asexuality blog. I also have a Patreon where $1 contributors can see blog entries early and also participate in polls to choose my blog topics! My Patreon can be found at patreon.com/chaielemental. Oh, and my BandCamp is at https://amaranthezinzani.bandcamp.com/.