[This is part of a series on opportunities for ace activism. See the masterpost here.]
The world of “health care” is a huuuuuuuuuge opportunity for ace activism, so I’m just going to briefly touch on just a few of the areas that can be explored.
- Develop workshops on providing ace competent care. Train doctors on what asexuality is, how to approach potentially asexual patients, etc.
- Get the DSM-5 fixed. The move from the DSM-IV to DSM-5, with its explicit mention of asexuality in an an exception for FSIAD and MHSDD, was a huge step forward, but there are still problems. The mention of asexuality is hiding in scare quotes in a footnote that doesn’t even show up in the Desk Reference. The exception calls for people to be “self-identified as asexual”, which is hard to do if you’ve never heard that asexuality is A Thing™. The criteria for FSIAD and MHSDD both require “clinically significant distress”, but there’s no allowance for that distress being caused by everyone constantly telling you that you’re broken for not wanting sex. Then there’s a more fundamental question about whether or not these are actually “disorders” at all. Ace activism was instrumental in getting the improvements in the DSM-5, so it’s time to be making noise about getting some changes in the next edition.
- Explore various ways to suppress or eliminate various bodily functions and features that many aces could do without. Look at techniques for skipping periods with birth control pills. Are there ways to safely get rid of erections? Can an unwanted libido be turned off? What options exist for hysterectomies or castration? Are they safe? What’s the process for obtaining one? Are there processes/procedures/regulations/restrictions that stand in the way and need to be changed?
- Work to end the pervasive and incorrect idea that everyone wants sex, that everyone who is lacking in sex is miserable, and that the only path to happiness is through lots and lots of sex. Throw out the blanket “fake it ’til you make it” style advice. Throw out the failed anti-depressants and sunless tanners being relabeled as sex cure-alls. Don’t try to fix what isn’t broken.
- Explore issues involving single people and medical care.
- Look at tests and procedures which may not be necessary for people who are not sexually active. For instance, are pap smears worthwhile for people who’ve never had sex? Should guidance around those sorts of things be changed? Should there be more outreach to aces letting them know the risk and giving them guidance for refusing potentially unnecessary or unwanted procedures.
- Fight against conversion therapy, in all its forms.
I would like to get involved. As an asexual teenager/young adult I experienced years of mental healthcare that used conversion therapy. Ten years later I am still working to undo the harm from this. I would like to raise awareness about this issue and use my experience to educate mental health professionals about how to properly help ace people, and also give ace people knowledge and empowerment to walk away from health providers who may harm them.
When I was 16, my mother and I went to the doctor so I could have some warts removed, and she asked me if I was vaccinated against HPV! I tried to explain that I wasn’t gonna be getting that any time soon, vaccine or no vaccine, but I stammered, and then Mum interrupted saying that “right now” I was ace. Embarrassing!