Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Trevor Project opens its arms to aces

You have probably heard of the Trevor Project before. If you have not I’ll explain quickly. The Trevor Project, founded in 1998, aims to end suicide among LGBTQ youth by providing them, around the clock, with life-saving and life-affirming resources. The Trevor Project offers a 24 hour 7 day a week hotline for LGBTQ youth in crisis, creating for them a safe space.
They promote the message of equality, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or race and promote this message through their educational projects and online community.

Recently, the Trevor Project has decided to include asexuality in their support services. I know that many people disagree over whether asexuals suffer from oppression or not. Asexuals are not oppressed like gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people are, we’re not attacked in the streets, we don’t suffer from continuous homophobic slurs throughout high school, we’re not deprived of any rights. No, we don’t suffer from violence or hate crimes. However, we do suffer from erasure, and prejudice. Now I hear some of you say "but that’s nothing compared to the rest of the LGBT", and I agree, it isn’t. But this isn’t a competition as to "Who has it worse? Aces or LGBT?", something that I have seen far too much around the internet and which annoys me. Erasure and prejudice are a mild form of oppression, and they still hurt. That is why I believe that the Trevor Project has made the right move by including asexuality in its helpline.

Imagine. You’re in high school, about 12-13 years old and your friends become interested in dating and want to have a girlfriend/boyfriend. But you just remain clueless as to why they would want that. You think "oh well, I’ll be interested in that stuff later", a couple of years pass and your friends bring a new topic onto the table: sex. You immediately feel grossed out, not interested, and don’t even want to hear what your friends (who find the topic very interesting and amusing) have to say. Here you are twiddling your thumbs, while they’re discussing that wonderful topic which you feel so alien to. If you hadn’t felt excluded and alien to it before that moment, now you do. You have all these thoughts running through your head "Am I broken?", "Am I ill?", "What’s wrong with me?". Of course you may still believe, or hope, that you’re just a late bloomer and that it’ll all hit you soon, and you’ll go "Eureka", but there comes a point where you realise, and have to accept that no, those feelings are going to remain alien to you all your life. But even when you do, you’re still in the dark. You still think that you’re ill, or broken, that you’re the problem. And to what is that due? Lack of visibility and erasure of the asexual community.

In today’s society, sex is everywhere: adverts, music, billboards, TV programmes, books, school…
For an asexual it is alienating, they feel like the odd one out and that they will never fit in. Moreover, when you don’t know that how you feel is normal and that there is a word for it, it’s ten times worse.
It’s a very lonely feeling.  

The word "asexuality" exists only since the beginning of the millennium to describe "lack of sexual attraction and interest", before that it was only used to describe amoebas.
Over all, few people know about asexuality, and even fewer believe in it.

This brings me back to the Trevor Project. By bringing asexuality into their lifeline, they’re telling asexual youth that they know they exist, that they believe them and are there for them, even if no one else is. Just by doing that, they help, because they are acknowledging them.
What’s more, homoromantic, biromantic, panromantic and transgender asexuals also belong to the LGBT community.
Asexuals suffer and need help just like anyone else; the Trevor Project has understood that.