In this series, we interview a variety of Disabled Aces with diverse backgrounds in honor of #DisabledAceDay and in conjunction with Ace Week.
Our next interviewee in this series is Meghan from Houston, Texas! Our primary goal with this Disabled Ace Day series is to highlight the diversity of experience and opinion from within our community. With that said, please keep in mind that every Disabled Ace will define their experience differently and have a variety of perspectives on how their Asexuality and Disability intersect. Since one Disabled Aspec cannot speak for the entire community, it is vitally important that you follow and learn from as many voices as you can, and we hope you find this interview series to be highly illuminating.
Please introduce yourself! How do you identify in terms of asexuality, disability, passions, professions, or anything else you’d like to share with us?
I identify as asexual primarily. I have toyed with other terms, including panromantic asexual, demiromantic asexual, and gray-asexual, but asexual is the only one that has felt right.
I have a condition called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), which is a type of dysautonomia, or autonomic nervous system dysfunction. You can read more about it here. It's a condition which primarily affects blood circulation and heart rate, but has many different symptoms which vary from person to person. In my case, I mainly deal with chronic nausea and fatigue. Other symptoms I've dealt with are dizziness, poor temperature regulation, and migraines.
I also have diagnosed ADHD, suspected undiagnosed ASD, and clinical depression.
My passions include film and media criticism, The X-Files, anime, music, and more.
How do your asexual and disabled identities interact with one another and what unique challenges have you faced while living at this intersection?
I think the main thing is that the stigma surrounding disabled people - that is, that they are not sexual or don't have sex - was a source of confusion for me when I was trying to figure out my sexuality. I didn't realize I was asexual until I was 22, and even then, it took me two more years to discover that I was also sex-averse.
I thought my body and brain's response (or lack thereof) to sex and intimacy was due to a lack of experience or because I was so tired and sick, and because of this I kept putting myself in situations in which I was deeply uncomfortable. On the subject of my suspected ASD, I used to be under the misconception, as are many people, that autistic people are more likely to be asexual (which isn't true). Recently, I've realized that my asexuality and my disabilities are actually separate things. They impact each other, but they come from different aspects of myself.
Have you personally experienced any ableism from within the asexual or other LGBTQ2IA+ communities?
I don't know if I would call it ableism, more so erasure. There needs to be a conversation about disabled LGBTQ+ people, and there needs to be a conversation about asexuality as a sexual orientation and not a consequence of disability.
Have you personally experienced any acephobia from the disability community?
None that I can recall, unless you count internalized acephobia. Asexuality was seen as a disorder for a long time, and is still viewed that way by many in the medical community. I still struggle with feeling like asexuality is just another thing "wrong" with me.
What advice do you have for folks who wish to become better allies to disabled aces?
The main thing - erase any inherent association between asexuality and disability from your brain. Asexuality is not a disability, and disabled people aren't more or less likely to be asexual. I think it would also really help if non-ace people familiarized themselves with asexual terms.
Non-ace people generally don't have to think about things like whether they experience sexual attraction, and that's why the concept of differentiated attraction can be confusing. It's okay to be confused or not understand but the trouble comes when that confusion leads to invalidation or acephobia. Lastly, people tend to infantilize both disabled and asexual people. Don't do this.
Shameless self-promotion time! Do you have a business, project, artwork, or other content we should know about? Give us those links!
I make content for Medium and TikTok. I'm slowly starting to make more content, mainly media criticism, which I haven't been able to do due to my POTS, which makes me tired all the time. But recently I published a piece on Medium and I've been active on TikTok and Twitter. I've talked about asexuality on my TikTok quite a few times. You can find a full list of my links here.