The Ace In The UK Report details the shocking treatment of asexual people in the workplace and medical settings
BY ELLA GAUCI
This Asexual Awareness Week, Stonewall published its report on the lives of asexual people in collaboration with asexual activist Yasmin Benoit. This groundbreaking report took two years to produce and details the experiences the ace community has had with healthcare, workplace environments, and societal discrimination in the UK.
The ace community makes up around 1-2% of the population, and their stories are often never seen in mainstream media. There has been a rise in asexual visibility through shows like Sex Education and Heartstopper, but often the lived experiences of the ace community are never given a platform.
Stonewall and Yasmin Benoit’s report found that 49% of asexual people are not out at work, which is double the number of other LGBTQIA respondents. Of those who are publicly out at work, only one in six have had a positive experience in the workplace.
One respondent to the report explained what the experience of coming out as asexual can feel like. ‘I’ve tried to explain to someone that I am asexual, and they said ‘You know, there’s something wrong with you. You probably need to pray about it’… I remember feeling inferior about [who I am].”
This report also documented the fact that asexual people were 50% less likely to disclose their sexuality to healthcare professionals than other communities. A quarter of ace people surveyed said that this was in fear of a negative reaction from healthcare professionals.
One of these negative experiences can be a medical professional not acknowledging asexuality. One respondent shared their experience.“When a mental health professional is telling you that it’s because of problems you’ve had in the past, someone that you trust to know what they’re talking about, of course you think you should be brave and force yourself to do things you’re not comfortable with. It’s really bad.”
Others shared stories of not being able to access gynaecological help easily because of their asexuality, with doctors sending them to therapy for their asexuality rather than addressing their concerns such as pelvic pain. During smear tests, respondents to the report revealed that medical professionals had made comments like “Why have you never had sex before? That’s not right” and referred them to a psychosexual therapist.
Yasmin Benoit, who pushed for this report to be created and has been a vocal advocate for the asexual community throughout her career, said: “We deserve protection. We deserve acceptance, and we deserve to be heard. With this report, I wanted to dig into the issues facing the ace community today and amplify the voices we never usually hear.”
She continued: “This is a much-needed step in understanding what asexuality is, what asexual discrimination looks like and setting the ball in motion for actually doing something about it. It’s time that the world paid attention. I’m grateful that I’ve had the chance to start this project with an accomplished organisation like Stonewall, and to use my platform and education to publish a report that is really going to make a difference.”
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