Welcome to the Nexus of Ethics, Psychology, Morality, Philosophy and Health Care

Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, technology, health care, and philosophy

Friday, January 19, 2024

Asexuality Is Finally Breaking Free from Medical Stigma

Allison Parshall
Scientific American
Originally posted 1 Jan 24

Here is an excerpt:

Over the past two decades psychological studies have shown that asexuality should be classified not as a disorder but as a stable sexual orientation akin to homosexuality or heterosexuality. Both cultural awareness and clinical medicine have been slow to catch on. It's only recently that academic researchers have begun to look at asexuality not as an indicator of health problems but as a legitimate, underexplored way of being human.

In biology, the word “asexual” typically gets used in reference to species that reproduce without sex, such as bacteria and aphids. But in some species that do require mating to have offspring, such as sheep and rodents, scientists have observed individuals that don't appear driven to engage in the act.

This behavior is more analogous to human asexuality, a concept rarely mentioned in medical literature until recently. In a pamphlet published in 1896, pioneering German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld described people without sexual desire, a state he called “anesthesia sexualis.” In 1907 Reverend Carl Schlegel, an early gay rights activist, advocated for the “same laws” for “the homosexuals, heterosexuals, bisexuals [and] asexuals.” When sexologist Alfred Kinsey devised his scale of sexual orientation in the 1940s, he created a “Category X” for the respondents who unexpectedly reported no sociosexual contacts or reactions—exceptions from his model whom he estimated made up 1.5 percent of all males between the ages of 16 and 55 in the U.S. Asexuality was largely absent from scientific research over the subsequent decades, although it was occasionally referenced by activists and scholars in the gay liberation movement.

Here are some quick bullet points:
  • Asexuality is a sexual orientation characterized by a lack of sexual attraction to others.
  • In the past, asexuality was often misunderstood and misdiagnosed as a mental health disorder.
  • Today, asexuality is increasingly recognized as a legitimate sexual orientation.
  • People who identify as asexual may or may not experience sexual attraction, and there is a spectrum of asexuality.
  • Asexual people can face challenges in getting proper medical care, as some healthcare providers may not be familiar with asexuality.