23rd – 29th October 2022 is Ace Week. This is an annual event to raise awareness about asexual, aromantic, and all those under the asexual/aromantic umbrellas, and the difficulties that they face. For this blog post, I would like to talk about asexuality and mental health.
Asexuality is defined as having little or no sexual attraction towards people of all genders. 2% of the UK population (over a million people) identify as asexual.
Asexuality isn’t protected by the Equality Act 2010, and isn’t regarded as a sexual orientation under UK Law. It is instead listed as a hypoactive sexual desire disorder. This means that asexuality is often excluded from campaigns and policies. One example: asexual people aren’t included in the UK Conversion Therapy Ban, despite being 10% more likely to undergo or be offered conversion therapy. This puts them at higher risk of the aftermath of conversion therapy, which includes suicidality. In addition, asexual people can face exclusion from the LGTBQ+ community, under the false belief that they’re “celibate straight people”. This barrier to a supportive community, a protective factor for many Queer people, makes asexuality very isolating.
So what are the effects on asexual mental health?
🖤 Asexual youth have significantly higher levels of internalised LGBTQ-phobia.
🤍 Asexual youth have higher levels of depression relative to overall LGBTQ+ samples.
💜 Asexual adults have one of the lowest life satisfaction rates.
🖤 63% of asexual youth report worsened mental health since the pandemic.
🤍 One in ten asexual youth report never feeling optimistic about the future.
💜 Asexual adults have high prevalence of suicidal ideation/planning.
All of this is incredibly concerning.
Asexual people deserve to be listened to, supported, and protected. Ace mental health matters.
In the wise words of our favourite sex therapist Jean Milburn, from the Sex Education Netflix series:
“Sex doesn’t make us whole, and so, how could you ever be broken?”