"I hate being asexual and want to change"

For discussion of general issues pertaining to asexuality.
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ily
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"I hate being asexual and want to change"

Postby ily » Sat Oct 18, 2008 6:37 pm

Is there any possible response to people who say things like, "I'm asexual, but I hate it and want to change"?
Why does it seem so taboo to say, "Just accept it"?
(Because that's all you really CAN do...)

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Heligan
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Re: "I hate being asexual and want to change"

Postby Heligan » Mon Nov 03, 2008 12:30 am

It sounds like a straightforward statement, and if it is you are right they pretty much do have to accept it.
But I would be inclined to try to find out why people are driven to say this to start with; do they really want to experience sexual attraction or is it something else about being asexual that is the issue (such as the difficulty in getting a relationship). There are asexual dating sites out there after all, so maybe some constructive advice could be given to combat the actual problem rather than the percieved problem.

But even if it is a straightforward statement, and they really just want to experience sexual attraction.. as a believer in the fluidity of sexuality I might see that as a sign that they were already moving along the spectrum a little. Maybe telling them that sexuality can be fluid would be enough to bump them along a bit further. (I dont really see why an asexual would want to experience sexual attraction for its own sake though, seems a bit like wanting to be thirsty- why would you want that- so I find it hard understand- i guess it could be curiosity- brings to mind the phrase 'bi-curious' which i would interpret as a tendency to homosexual attraction).
I suppose you could try to encourage sexual attraction with some sort of mantra- I cant see it working unless you do have some tiny level of sexual attraction to manipulate though.
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ily
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Re: "I hate being asexual and want to change"

Postby ily » Mon Nov 03, 2008 3:57 pm

Thanks for responding. I agree that finding out WHY someone is saying this is wise. Even if it's obvious to them. Like you mentioned, they may have assumptions that could be doing them little good.

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Lehcar
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Re: "I hate being asexual and want to change"

Postby Lehcar » Sat Nov 15, 2008 8:30 pm

IMO, often those who are dissatisfied with their orientation are motivated by a desire to 'fit in' more that anything else. So, I think some things you could do is try and help such an individual feel more welcome/part of the community, or - like Heligan has mentioned - try and understand their other reasons for such unhappiness.

That being said, I don't personally believe that orientation is a choice (though I personally think it CAN change throughout a person's life). So, if someone is dissatisfied with their orientation, I don't think there's necessarily anything they can do to CHANGE that. If you want to be blunt, you can just say 'just accept it', but I usually like to be a little gentler than that. That's really my only concern with just saying 'too bad'.

It's a good question though, Ily - thanks!

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ghosts
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Re: "I hate being asexual and want to change"

Postby ghosts » Fri Nov 28, 2008 10:14 am

Why does it seem so taboo to say, "Just accept it"?

There's always the chance that some who's identifying as asexual *can* change in some way - could be a medical reason, for instance. So I think that might be why it's "taboo" to tell people to just accept it. It's hard to know why someone is the way they are, and whether they can actually change that aspect.

Although generally, I do think it's good advice to "just accept it."

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Re: "I hate being asexual and want to change"

Postby wintermute » Sat Nov 29, 2008 4:50 am

Lehcar wrote:IMO, often those who are dissatisfied with their orientation are motivated by a desire to 'fit in' more that anything else. So, I think some things you could do is try and help such an individual feel more welcome/part of the community, or - like Heligan has mentioned - try and understand their other reasons for such unhappiness.


I agree with this, and I think it's another good reason not to build up an impenetrable wall of jargon, although I think in part that might be some sort of coping mechanism with some people, like building up a layer of mother of pearl around a chunk of grit.

That said, however, I think it's also important to find out why they feel they are asexual, and why they feel it is a bad fit for them - as others have said there are actual problems that can cause someone to be asexual or sexually dysfunctional (not of course that I'm saying these are the same thing). If someone is desperately unhappy they might want to try some sort of therapy to change their feelings. I'm not a big proponent of predetermination - I like to think (rightly or wrongly!) that as human beings we can direct the course of our lives. If someone wanted to have sexual feelings toward someone (or something) else badly enough, and they convinced themselves that they had them.. can you say absolutely that there's a difference between that and a "natural" feeling? Repressing or subverting feelings can cause problems for people later but if you genuinely WANT to feel a certain way and you decide to take that course I don't see how it could be that big a problem, unless those feelings were destructive to someone else.
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Re: "I hate being asexual and want to change"

Postby Siggy » Sun Aug 02, 2009 7:42 pm

ily wrote:Is there any possible response to people who say things like, "I'm asexual, but I hate it and want to change"?
Why does it seem so taboo to say, "Just accept it"?
(Because that's all you really CAN do...)

I think saying "Just accept it" is a perfectly reasonable response (though I've never gotten the impression it was taboo). But if you really want to be helpful, I think some more sensitivity may be required. Accepting is an emotional process, just like grieving or getting over a grudge. It takes time, and for some people it takes even more time. You can't just tell people to get over it, and then be done with it. The best you can do is push the process along. Some things I might try: offer an optimistic perspective, relate a sad anecdote with a happy ending, tell a joke.

Things that I think are not helpful:

Dismissiveness. Some people act like asexuality means you don't want to have sex. That's not what it means! Asexuality is not a choice, so of course there are going to be asexuals who would have liked to choose otherwise. Same goes for aromantics. It kind of bothers me that even in the AVEN FAQs, the closest they come to mentioning aromantics is people who are "perfectly happy just having close friends." Oh, so unhappy aromantics don't exist. :/

Assumptions. I agree with Heligan that it's a good thing to figure out why they are unhappy with it. But find out by asking, not guessing. Different people have different reasons. If you guess wrong, you make them feel just that much more misunderstood and lonely.

False hope. When people say that they want to change their asexuality, they are not only looking to vent their emotions, but also trying to figure out the best course of action. Is it to change their orientation to align with their desires, or to change their desires to align with their orientation? The latter is difficult, but the former is, as far as we know, impossible to do by conscious choice. (Or is it? The trouble with this one is we can't really tell the difference between false hope and true hope.) It might help to remind them that even if they later find a way to change, it doesn't hurt to accept it in the mean time.

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Re: "I hate being asexual and want to change"

Postby ghosts » Mon Aug 03, 2009 6:05 am

Siggy wrote:
ily wrote:Is there any possible response to people who say things like, "I'm asexual, but I hate it and want to change"?
Why does it seem so taboo to say, "Just accept it"?
(Because that's all you really CAN do...)

Same goes for aromantics. It kind of bothers me that even in the AVEN FAQs, the closest they come to mentioning aromantics is people who are "perfectly happy just having close friends." Oh, so unhappy aromantics don't exist. :/

Well, I think that's because the FAQs were written before "aromantic" was that recognized as a term in the AVEN community... We haven't really changed them all that much since then.

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Re: "I hate being asexual and want to change"

Postby pretzelboy » Mon Aug 03, 2009 8:34 am

The term "aromantic" was first proposed on Haven for the Human Ameoba as a joke (it was followed by "LOL") on April 26, 2002. Another person a few days later thought it was a good (and amusing) term. I'm not entirely clear on when the FAQ's were written, but I think they were written about a month before that.

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Re: "I hate being asexual and want to change"

Postby Siggy » Mon Aug 03, 2009 3:11 pm

Uh, okay. In that case, the AVEN FAQs show amazing foresight! Even though it is seven years old, it hits all the major questions, and gives very brief but nuanced answers.

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Re: "I hate being asexual and want to change"

Postby Lemon » Tue Aug 04, 2009 6:33 am

I agree with the responses that if some one is in distress about their asexuality I think ‘just accept it’ isn’t very constructive, each situation is different and if you really want to help them, find out why they want to change and go from there.

I can understand why this is sensitive for some asexuals to hear but if someone struggling to come to terms with being different to the norms they have internalised is distressed by it and they can’t say so here then where can they go for support?

Maybe I can help you understand why some one would want to change as I have recently felt this way myself.

I was 19, an asexual romantic but I didn’t know these words yet, I thought I was perfectly normal, I fell in love but as of yet still didn’t really ‘get’ sex, I was doing it because that's the normal thing for a girl to do, I wanted to but I was very confused about my feelings or lack there of. If I thought about it at all I assumed I’d grow into it, at one point I even thought I wasn’t doing it right and resolved to practise until I figured it out. The years drifted by, sexual problems strained my relationship, I’d fake interest sometimes, others I might not, either way one of us wound end up dissatisfied, I even lied in a vague way to excuse what I couldn’t my self explain. Eventually the reality dawned and at 23 I knew it was getting a bit late for ‘I’m still young’ and all of a sudden I am faced with a dishonest relationship, a future not realising the norms I have internalised and the turmoil and soul searching and trying to understand my self as asexual. Sometimes dealing with those issues gets me down and I wish I could change.

Even if its not a nice thing to say to some one distressed the only answer is ‘get used to it’ but to do that you have to tackle your relationships, self image, self esteem etc... Which is no small thing.

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ily
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Re: "I hate being asexual and want to change"

Postby ily » Tue Aug 04, 2009 11:50 am

I definitely get that. When I first realized I was asexual, I wasn't happy about it, either. I think one thing that it's important to convey is that unhappiness about being asexual doesn't make you any less asexual. Like, you don't go from having an orientation to having a disorder just because you're unhappy about it. There's a really good thread somewhere around here on that topic... :)

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Re: "I hate being asexual and want to change"

Postby Siggy » Tue Sep 01, 2009 7:07 am

So I was thinking... what about people who say, "I hate my biological sex, and want to change it"? I'm not terribly familiar with transgender issues, but I understand that not everyone thinks "Just accept it" is the proper response.

What makes the situation different? Perhaps if we could answer this question, we could figure out more general guidelines on when to accept and when not to accept.

The most obvious answer is that biological sex and gender are things we can change, whereas sexual orientation we cannot change. So what happens in the hypothetical situation in which ex-gay therapy turns out to be effective (in the real world, it is not effective). Would that change everything, or not?

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Re: "I hate being asexual and want to change"

Postby pretzelboy » Tue Sep 01, 2009 7:44 am

If you ask some activist, they'll likely tell you that we should challenge the assumption that if people can change, then they should. There are lots of things that we choose that are not wrong because we chose them, and sexuality does involve a definite degree of choice (how to identify, who to have relationships with, etc.) Likewise, there are some things about my life that I could change, but there's nothing wrong with not changing. (Like my hair, or something.) So there will be people (and I'm not excluding myself) who insist on challenging the assumption that if becoming a cisgendered heterosexual were possible, then that's what people should do.

My own thoughts on the subject are that it's a bit more complicated than that. For the sake of illustration, I'll focus on homosexuality because that's something I've read more about. If gay people could become straight by really wanting to, most would have, especially in the past when it was stigmatized even more than at present. I think it's precisely because this doesn't work that people think the best option is for people to accept their sexual orientation (which is known to work) than the try to change it (which is known to fail in at least most, and possibly all, cases.) But when they do this, there is strong reason to challenge the idea that heterosexuality is better than homosexuality. In striving for acceptance, this is an important assumption to challenge. But I think that it's (at least partly) because attempts to change fail so miserably that the drive to challenge the assumption that people should change arises.

I would guess that similar points can be made in other cases too.

(Edited to make more sense.)
Last edited by pretzelboy on Tue Sep 01, 2009 12:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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ily
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Re: "I hate being asexual and want to change"

Postby ily » Tue Sep 01, 2009 11:30 am

Correct me if I'm wrong, but in the case of transpeople, don't they feel like they're not their real sex or gender? So it might not be so much the issue of them hating their gender, but that they feel they're really some other gender that they are currently unable to express. I don't think asexuals feel like that. Even if you're upset about being asexual, you probably don't feel like you're actually a straight or gay person trapped in an asexual body.

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Re: "I hate being asexual and want to change"

Postby Dargon » Tue Sep 01, 2009 6:11 pm

Siggy wrote:So I was thinking... what about people who say, "I hate my biological sex, and want to change it"? I'm not terribly familiar with transgender issues, but I understand that not everyone thinks "Just accept it" is the proper response.

What makes the situation different? Perhaps if we could answer this question, we could figure out more general guidelines on when to accept and when not to accept.

The most obvious answer is that biological sex and gender are things we can change, whereas sexual orientation we cannot change. So what happens in the hypothetical situation in which ex-gay therapy turns out to be effective (in the real world, it is not effective). Would that change everything, or not?


The biological, the physical, can be changed through surgery, but from what I know of transgendered people, the innate gender is not something that changes, or it's changes are small and take time, much like sexuality.

I speak entirely from second hand experience. As I have said before, the concept of a mental or innate gender is still something that I cannot even pretend to understand.

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Re: "I hate being asexual and want to change"

Postby RDrac » Thu Nov 19, 2009 4:01 am

The best advice I've seen is that you could try taking things to increase your sex drive to see if that's the problem, maybe trial and error and baby steps to get to the point where you can have sex and might even enjoy it so you can act like a sexual person.

But you can't really force your orientation to change. You can change your actions and hope your wants follow- but that's it.

Siggy wrote:So I was thinking... what about people who say, "I hate my biological sex, and want to change it"? I'm not terribly familiar with transgender issues, but I understand that not everyone thinks "Just accept it" is the proper response.

There's a difference here. Saying "I hate my biological sex and want to change it" is more akin to saying "I hate sleeping with women and want to stop".

I think what you're going for is "I hate that deep-down I'm really a boy, I just want to be a normal girl!".

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Re: "I hate being asexual and want to change"

Postby ily » Thu Nov 19, 2009 12:43 pm

RDrac wrote:The best advice I've seen is that you could try taking things to increase your sex drive to see if that's the problem, maybe trial and error and baby steps to get to the point where you can have sex and might even enjoy it so you can act like a sexual person.


I don't think I'd feel comfortable giving that advice. Personally, I don't hold with the assumption that there's something inherently wrong with having a low sex drive. That's something sexual people with low sex drives have to deal with, too. Besides, some asexuals do have sex drives, as we all know, and they still don't want to have sex. At least for me, pretending to be someone I'm not takes a major psychological toll. Maybe the idea behind this advice is to make people go "Ugh, that sounds like way too much work" and then accept themselves as asexual because really, the alternative can be pretty painful.

After living with someone who was doing her senior thesis on the ex-gay movement, I think gay people have already proven that changing your behaviors doesn't necessarily change your desires. When I read about the two male leaders of a major ex-gay ministry that were now living together-- as lovers, I was just like, "well, what did you expect?" I don't think asexuals need to reinvent the wheel on that matter.

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Re: "I hate being asexual and want to change"

Postby Isaac » Thu Nov 19, 2009 1:57 pm

I imagine that an asexual with an artificially increased libido would plainly masturbate more. Increasing libido could help to discover your actual sexual orientation, as a zoom, not to change it.

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Re: "I hate being asexual and want to change"

Postby RDrac » Thu Nov 19, 2009 5:44 pm

There isn't anything inherently wrong with any of it. There's nothing wrong with a low sex drive, a high sex drive, asexuality, pansexuality, or anything else. But when something's causing you a problem- then there is something wrong with it for you.
No, you can't forcibly change your orientation, but for all we know these people have non-existant libidos and would be sexual if they "fixed" that. (I'm not saying this is true of all nonlibidoists, I'm saying it's a possibility).

I would definitely say "it'd be better if you could accept it- if you are asexual, then you can't change that". I'd ask why they can't accept it and see if there's any way they can come to terms with it. But if it becomes clear that they just can't accept this- then the only thing I could offer is to try increasing their sex drive and see what happens.

Sometimes when you can't accept something about yourself- it's because it isn't true. You aren't that person, you don't know what they're experiencing, you only know what they think is relevant. How many asexuals have later realized they're grey-asexual or demi? It's entirely possible this person isn't asexual, and only telling them "well... you must be, so deal with it" isn't helpful.

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Re: "I hate being asexual and want to change"

Postby Siggy » Mon Nov 23, 2009 12:32 am

Welllll...

At this time, I feel like I have finally accepted my asexuality, though not in the way I expected. I've decided that, due to the particulars of my asexuality, I could in fact be capable of having a normal (gay) relationship. It's a combination of being not entirely aromantic, and probably demisexual. I feel kinda like I'm a Kinsey 5 trying to have a straight relationship... but, you know, that's not entirely impossible. It takes some effort, and good communication. I'm happy that the option is not entirely closed off to me.

The thing is, I feel like it just as easily could have gone the other way, if I were a different kind of asexual. It could very well have been impossible to do what I'm trying to do. Therefore, I would encourage unhappy asexuals to consider many different solutions. First, try to figure out which ones are possible for you. Then try to figure out what outcomes you would prefer (including consideration of how difficult they would be to achieve). And then, take initiative and do it! And don't be afraid to revise any of your previous answers.

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Re: "I hate being asexual and want to change"

Postby Isaac » Mon Nov 23, 2009 2:50 am

Siggy, if you are into a gay relationship, it would be more in the same situation a Kinsey-1.

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Re: "I hate being asexual and want to change"

Postby FalconEagle » Thu Dec 31, 2009 9:12 am

Edit: Removed due to irrelevance
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ily
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Re: "I hate being asexual and want to change"

Postby ily » Thu Dec 31, 2009 12:13 pm

I think that if you're having sex solely for research purposes, you're probably asexual...

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Re: "I hate being asexual and want to change"

Postby Noskcaj.Llahsram » Thu Dec 31, 2009 8:27 pm

... unless you have some weird OCD and lab coat fetish
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Re: "I hate being asexual and want to change"

Postby Mage » Tue Jun 29, 2010 6:11 pm

It's interesting to me that some asexuals feel this kind of self-hatred. It reminds me of the not-uncommon problem that many depressed/unhappy people of other minority groups or "non-normative" groups experience--wanting to belong to the dominant group. The more cultural invisibility a person feels, the more likely the person is to wish they were part of the visible/dominant groups, especially if they have no support network and are subject to humiliation and hatred every day. Certainly not all asexuals experience intolerance, but I think every case is individual and other factors such as race, class, gender, etc can add up to a lot of invisibility and the longing to just be someone else in order to escape the pain inflicted by society.
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Re: "I hate being asexual and want to change"

Postby debiguity » Sun Oct 03, 2010 5:45 pm

ily wrote:Is there any possible response to people who say things like, "I'm asexual, but I hate it and want to change"?
Why does it seem so taboo to say, "Just accept it"?
(Because that's all you really CAN do...)


I could easily be someone who would say this...but "want" really is "wish I could". I hate being short too, and it's the same in some ways. I can't change being short, I can't change being asexual. So yeah, acceptance is key, but that doesn't stop me from being bummed that I'm too short to fit a frame that can take 29ers.

Even though I've never ridden 29ers and have never been anything other than short, I can still observe others who are not so short, and see that they don't struggle getting things from grocery shelves or getting their stuff into/out of overheads on planes and that they can ride 29ers...and I want I want I want to be taller.

Asexuality isn't quite the same, but it feels like a door that just closed behind me. Or closed a bit more than it was already. Even though I am happy to be living with cats instead of humans, I suppose it is like a possibility that I'd secretly hoped for and which is now gone.

Except it's not that clear cut. I think Siggy's experience and advice is quite interesting. I have no motivation to take the advice, which is a clear sign that my asexuality isn't really that big a deal to me, but it's still nice to think that the "maybe someday" is still a possibility, just perhaps not the same one I had vaguely envisioned before.

So yeah, it's always going to come down to acceptance, and I can see why people would be frustrated with hearing this kind of sentiment, but acceptance is something that's simple in theory and monumental in practice. There's just not much you can say to someone who is having a hard time with the acceptance, except maybe to ask them questions to get them to express what and why they hate being asexual.

I don't see it as self-hatred. But maybe that's just me.

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Re: "I hate being asexual and want to change"

Postby ily » Sun Oct 03, 2010 7:04 pm

debiguity wrote:I don't see it as self-hatred. But maybe that's just me.


I don't see it as self-hatred, either. Sometimes, I do feel down about being asexual and therefore "different". Don't get me wrong, there are other things that make me "different" as well, but when I was first realizing I was asexual, I felt like it was the last straw. My acceptance of asexuality has come a long way, but what hasn't come a long way is my acceptance of the relationship options that we have in society, and the ignorant ways in which we're sometimes treated. And maybe that's something I shouldn't easily accept. So yeah, to answer my own original question, I guess for some people it would be important to separate the asexuality itself from all the societal messages about it. Because I find it's much easier to accept the former than the latter.

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Re: "I hate being asexual and want to change"

Postby debiguity » Mon Oct 04, 2010 5:34 pm

ily wrote:Sometimes, I do feel down about being asexual and therefore "different". Don't get me wrong, there are other things that make me "different" as well, but when I was first realizing I was asexual, I felt like it was the last straw.

This could have been taken from my brain. That's a big part of my struggle, to not feel cheated by being asexual. It's like I accept that it is part of me, but it pisses me off a little, and it did feel like the last straw.

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Re: "I hate being asexual and want to change"

Postby Danielle » Sat Jan 29, 2011 10:35 am

I wasn't happy at first with the fact that I could be asexual. It took me a year to come to terms with it. I think it's horrible asexuality is looked upon as a disease that can be cured. And well I may be different - and always have been different, I'm not sick. I also couldn't identify with what I knew about asexuality back then. I have been very close to a depression.

Luckily for me, some volunteers of the organization I work for helped me, listened to me and they kept a very open mind. And what's more important they realize too that sexuality/asexuality isn't fluid. They prevented me from becoming depressed.

I can understand that people say that they hate being asexual and that they want to change. On the other hand and luckily this was something I realized: what you are is what you are and if you are asexual then it's because you are born as one. But despite the fact I realized I was indeed born as asexual, my emotions and feelings at first did'nt follow my mind.

Now I'm happy with my orientation and I certainly wouldn't want to be sexual and romantic. In fact I realize more and more that my asexuality has always been a major part of me. And every day I learn more and more. What helped me a great deal was that I could come out as an asexual to some people. It made me much happier and more relaxed.

With regard to transgenderism. Not every trans wants an operation. Transgenderism is for quite some people about not conforming to the common ideas and stereotypes of gender. Travestites are transgenders too and are in fact a rather large group within the transgender community.
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