When I get told I’m in denial…

From time to time, usually after I share who and what I am, I get asked if it’s possible I’m in denial. It happens less regarding my transgender status nowadays, but my asexuality does get some flak.

I understand where the thought comes from. I am very physical in my affection. I cuddle and give plenty of touches and massages to the people I’m comfortable doing so with. I seek that kind of intimacy; it is a need, not just a want. Furthermore, I enjoy both giving and receiving pleasure in a kink scene, something usually charged with sexual energy. It is assumed that the kind of pleasure one derives from pain, submission or discipline to be sexual in nature, even though I don’t get aroused during those scenes. Play parties tend to be more sexually relevant than other physical activities.

Thus with all this, is it possible I’m unconsciously seeking sex as a need and I’m in denial about it, due to past trauma of some sort?

Perhaps. I’m not denying it is a possibility.

Does it matter though?

Whether it is the result of genes, hormonal imbalance, social stigma, trauma, insecurities, denial or mismatched needs, the fact is at this moment in time I am not sexually attracted to people. Intercourses repulses me. That might change in the future, but it is true now, whether I’m in denial or not.

The asexual label helps me communicate my feelings. It brought me closer to people sharing similar experiences. I identify with it because it describes what I am going through well. I wrote a post on the descriptive mindset vs the prescriptive one, and the argument that I’m in denial belongs more to latter than the former since it establishes some standard narrative I am somehow failing short of.

It is a human reaction to want to explain away issues and differences in a way that’s rooted in logic. Whether it is my asexuality or my dysphoria, many people think the first plausible solution that crosses their mind is one I never thought of in the fifteen years (and counting) of questioning I went through in silence, researching the terms, talking with people in the community and pondering my own feelings. That somehow their external point of view gave them some obvious insight I had missed on a topic that is highly personal. There is a small chance these people are right. Most likely than not, however, if I speak up about my feelings, it means I came to a conclusion on my own I can accept and live with.

I am deliberate in the way I explore my sexuality. BDSM lets me define sexually relevant encounters in a safe and controlled fashion without the need to make sex itself the focus of the interaction. While for many the idea would be absurd, the kink scene is my taking baby steps with regards to my sexuality. Being this self-conscious does not seem to me like a symptom of denial.

I don’t believe I’m in denial, but I wish I were.

Being in denial would mean despite myself I would secretly enjoy and seek that which I’m anxious about. There would be a root issue, and a feeling of well-being and success after getting past it. It would be solvable.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have one single, simple issue I could point to which would solve my dilemma? The idea is appealing.

I would like to be comfortable with the idea of sex. I would like to feel attraction, so I can relate with the majority of the population. I would like the option to enjoy a regular monogamous relationship, where the expectations are clears and socially accepted. I wish a few therapy sessions would work me through my issues such that I could be the person the people around me want me to be. If only it were so simple.

Growing up as an asexual isn’t fun. It isn’t one cool label I decided to tack onto many others to stand out as a special snowflake. I don’t want the anxiety, the confusion, the dismissals, the discriminating remarks from well-intentioned friends and family: people whose opinion I care for. I don’t want to be the odd one out.

Sometimes, I even doubt myself. It was true during transition, and it is true now: at this point in time I know the label fits yet I still hold on to some small hope that I can be “fixed”. It is not a healthy mindset, I know, but the social pressure to be “normal” is real and rooted deep. The feeling isn’t new to me. I felt the same when I was exploring my gender, little nagging thoughts that became more and more infrequent the more comfortable I got with the lifestyle. I expect this to be the same; the doubts fading with time.

I know what denial feels like. This isn’t it.

After I first came out as transgender to a parent, I went into denial for seven years before I decided to be honest with myself and transition. I know all about the little nagging thoughts that plagued me daily, about the topics of discussion I tried to avoid even in my own thoughts, about the shame and the self-loathing, the bittersweet smiles, the longing, and the ever increasing dysphoria. I don’t feel that way when I say I’m ace, but I did those years I tried to fit in, pretending I was not.

I am not the person others wish I were. I am my own person, one who is comfortable with the labels I use and proud of the communities I identify with. The occasional doubts I mentioned above are par for the course. They are no different than the occasional bout of dysphoria, or the envy I sometimes feel at another transwoman who passes much better than I am.

These feelings do not detract from my identity. Please don’t dismiss them by trying to “fix” me. Chances are, I thought about it before, and decided I didn’t need the fix to be happy. 

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