In contested questions regarding the asexual umbrella, I’ve seen a lot of this “you either are or you aren’t” approach to classing identities. “You either are or you aren’t” binary talk is pretty familiar to me as a gray-a, as you can imagine, if you know anything about 2012-era ace-intracommunity conflicts.
So that’s what I think about, naturally, when I see framing like “are you trans y/n” and “are you attracted to ppl of your own gender y/n” deployed in flowcharts aimed at telling aces what things are and aren’t for us. I saw one such flowchart today, didn’t save the url, and when I decided to reference it in this post, went, “eh that’s okay, I have the url of a different reblog of the same thing saved somewhere” — and then, upon checking, I realized that the url I had saved was actually of a different flowchart featuring the same questions, distinguishable only by the style of arrows.
This post isn’t about the controversial q-word or how many letters should be in lgbt or any of that. This post is is just some wondering aloud about the metrics I’ve seen used to discuss those issues.
Namely: you’re either trans or you aren’t, you’re either attracted to your own gender or you aren’t, you’re either [specific category] or you aren’t.
I won’t spend much time here on nb-people-who-don’t-ID-as-trans, because I know the answers to that.
What I wonder about, rather, is people who’ve been questioning for so long that they’ve given their questioning another name. I wonder about [gif warning] the number of labels for frustration with trying to find a single label. I wonder about gray-asexuality. I wonder about the rom vs. aro divide for grayros. I wonder about the gray experience in general, as shared by gray-aces and grayros and quoi folk.
I wonder what happens when the answer to the question “Okay, are you X or are you not?” is “I honestly can’t tell you that.” And again, “No, seriously, I don’t know.” And, “I’ve tried that, believe me.”
I wonder what happens when introspection remains inconclusive, and I wonder how I’m supposed to obey a flowchart like the creator intended.
And I wonder about capital-q Questioning People who don’t ID as gray-ace or gray-aro, who don’t have any words yet or anymore, who are being asked to make a decision on the dot and just go on and commit to something already, geez.
Attraction is (can be) confusing and subjective and personal and difficult and scary and idiosyncratic and, depending on external influences, easy to mistake for something else, or hard to pin down as “attraction” — and I see that acknowledged plenty in posts made by lesbians for lesbians. In those contexts, I’ve seen the questioning process acknowledged and questioning individuals validated as facing a rough road.
And then I turn the page to a post addressing aces on some cross-community issue, and suddenly, questioning people are nowhere to be found, questioning people don’t exist, questioning isn’t a process that applies to people under the ace umbrella.
“You either experience X attraction or you don’t. You’re either lgb or you’re not.”
I have to wonder what happened to us ambiguous folk, that we can be submerged so easily.
I have to wonder if there’s some ticking clock I wasn’t made aware of, counting down until my time is up. ‘Cause sure, you can be unsure, but you better get that uncertainty settled eventually. Better get everything straightened up nice and exact and classifiable. Not now, not yet, that’s fine, but eventually.
You know what it honestly reminds me of?
Consent rhetorics that pay lip service to “it’s okay to say no” but still communicate an expectation that you’ll be “ready” eventually, and it’s fine to not be “ready,” but you’re supposed to get to that point eventually.
I have a question.
What if I don’t?