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It’s 2021. Why Are Doctors Still Trying to “Cure” Asexuality?

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Photo credit: The Gender Spectrum Collection

In a 2012 episode of House, titular protagonist Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) attempts to disprove a couple’s claim that they’re asexual. In House’s view, the only people who don’t “want” sex are “sick, dead, or lying.” The episode resolves with the doctor discovering that the husband has a pituitary tumor that affects his sex drive (note: sex drive ≠ asexuality), and that his wife was just lying to preserve her husband’s pride. In other words, House was right: Asexuality wasn’t real, and it’s often a symptom of a medical issue. Unfortunately, House’s mentality is all too common in the real world. “As discriminatory as this is in fiction, it’s really not too far from what I’ve actually experienced,” asexual (or ace) artist Courtney Lane says. “Not only does it lead to fear and mistrust, but it does real, tangible harm diagnostically and financially.”

Lane has a disability, the nature of which she didn’t disclose, that requires her to undergo an above-average number of X-rays in a given year. Before the X-rays are conducted, she has to take a mandatory pregnancy test, even though she’s repeatedly shared that she’s asexual. “I’ve quite literally been sitting in my doctor’s office having difficulty breathing and urgently needing a lung X-ray to check for pneumonia while waiting on a urinalysis to come back and tell my doctors the obvious,” she says. “It’s humiliating to not be believed by the people I’m supposed to trust to oversee my health, but it’s also tremendously expensive when all of these little costs throughout the year add up.” Because of doctors’ assumptions, Lane’s been forced to pay out of pocket for certain procedures, such as urine tests, and has endured unnecessary emotional stress. “My disability has riddled my medical history with question marks, and not all physicians are prepared to diagnose or treat something so rare and underresearched,” she says. “I’ve seen firsthand how harmful it can be when doctors try to pathologize your illness when they’ve run out of ideas. I don’t want doctors to pathologize my illness, and I don’t want doctors to medicalize my sexual orientation, but I find that the two often go hand in hand. It’s exhausting.”

The pathologizing of LGBTQ+ people isn’t new: Until 1973, the American Psychiatric Association equated queerness with being “crazy” in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). Though the DSM no longer lists “homosexuality” as a mental illness, the manual’s fifth edition relates asexuality to a condition called hypoactive sexual desire disorder, or HSDD, defined by “low sexual desire accompanied by marked distress or interpersonal difficulties.” Whether this distress is attributed to having “low sexual desire” or is associated with existing as asexual in an allonormative/aphobic society is the question. When people in the asexual community come out, they’re oftentimes met with incredulity and/or skepticism from family, friends, and even medical practitioners. Lane says they’ve “experienced burdensome biases from healthcare providers” throughout their life, which has contributed to a “culture of distrust in medicine when it comes to patients who are women and/or exist within the LGBTQ+ spectrum.”

According to the Asexual Visibility and Education Network, asexuality is defined as a “person who does not experience sexual attraction.” It isn’t equivalent to celibacy, and while some asexual people may not experience sexual attraction—demisexuals and graysexuals can be an exception—they can experience other types of attraction, including romantic, sensual, and aesthetic, as well as other types of human connection. Contrary to popular belief, asexuality isn’t the same as aromanticism, the orientation defined by a lack of romantic attraction, though there are aces who identify as both asexual and aromantic (otherwise known as aroaces). As one of the most underrepresented groups—often termed the “invisible orientation”—within the LGBTQ+ community, asexuals face a number of challenges, including being discriminated against by medical professionals. Because they may be pathologized, many asexuals fear going to the doctor’s office, particularly when they’re seeing a physician about their sexual or reproductive health.

In her 2020 book, Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex, Angela Chen explains extensively the medical bias asexuals (both disabled and nondisabled) face. “Medical authority can be powerful even when it is imaginary,” she writes. “Doctors encourage aces to ask ourselves if we’re sick and doctors also diagnose and make declarations without caring what an ace person might think.” I experienced this firsthand a few years ago, when I visited an ob-gyn for a clinical breast exam and routine checkup and decided to share that I’m asexual. I couldn’t tell if I wanted to gauge my doctor’s reaction or if I just wanted to be fully honest with the medical practitioner tasked with helping me take the best care of my body. After I told her, she offhandedly mentioned the idea of prescribing me medication. A chill that had nothing to do with my exposed chest went through me. I was relieved when I learned I didn’t have to return to that same office for reproductive care. To this day, I can’t remember exactly what kind of medication my practitioner wanted to prescribe me, nor exactly what it was for. But I do remember her tone, the way she so easily suggested treatment as if there were something I needed to be cured of, as if my asexuality needed to be cured.

I’m not alone in this experience. “I’ve had to find a new primary care provider a few times…and every time I do, they ask a bunch of questions about my sexual history,” S., who didn’t disclose their last name, says. “I always flinch a little. It catches me off guard that I’m apprehensive about talking about my lack of sexual activity, even with my care provider, because of a few experiences with nonmedical folks that make me fear [my asexuality] will be ridiculed or believed.” Some asexuals I spoke with for this article said some doctors have expressed disbelief before offering hormonal therapy and other unwanted treatments that invalidated their identity and needs. Some were told their orientation stemmed from a psychological issue such as trauma, and/or referred to services equivalent to conversion therapy. Some doctors default to prescribing medication to their asexual patients, believing their asexuality may be a mask for other health issues. Others automatically assume a patient’s low sex drive is a symptom of hormonal imbalances or some other ailment, or a side effect of medication. (For the record, asexuality is defined by attraction rather than sex drive or libido, which asexuals may experience to varying degrees.)

Asexual people aren’t broken—and doctors shouldn’t treat us as if we are.

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As such, when many asexuals disclose their identity, doctors attempt to “treat” their asexuality like it’s a medical issue instead of a legitimate identity of which they claim ownership. When a system is calibrated in favor of a supposed “majority,” the system then neglects and harms minority groups. Take, for example, healthcare’s noted racial biases, which create treatment disparities between white patients and patients of color or queerphobic biases that leave those who don’t have sex with cis men at a noted disadvantage. Trans people seeking trans-inclusive medical care often face obstacles, from legal targeting to a lack of respectful clinical training. The fear of being misgendered is enough to keep some trans people from going to the doctor, afraid of the dysphoria that will trigger more pain instead of decreasing it. “It’s hard to feel safe talking to a medical professional whose priorities may be so different from yours,” M. Rodriguez, an asexual woman and medical practitioner, explains. “For example, people have tried to deny me needed medications to save my nonexistent libido and sex life, attempted to refuse me treatment for fear of damaging an impossible pregnancy, and derailed entire appointments about other things to try to fix some aspect of my asexuality despite my protest. I have always been lucky enough to be able to advocate for and get the care I needed in the end. But it should have never been that difficult in the first place.”

I’ve had to learn about asexuality mostly on my own. There was no mention of it in my sex-education classes in high school or college, so I combed through various websites and books to find stories that matched my own and helped validate that I was not strange, weird, or “broken,” as so many people in my asexual community grow up believing about themselves. I’m now at a point where I’m in community with other asexuals and can even claim pride over this part of myself. But the idea that I might step into a doctor’s office and be told I need to be cured of something I’ve just learned to be proud of is heartbreaking and exhausting. Thanks in part to Yasmin Benoit, David Jay, and other activists, there’s a growing awareness about the needs of the asexual community. Asexual people are also becoming better advocates for themselves, but that burden shouldn’t be entirely on our shoulders. People like me shouldn’t have to be afraid of going to the doctor, of having unnecessary tests, procedures, or medications pushed on us because of assumptions made about our sexuality and/or lack of sexual activity.

By creating uncomfortable environments for their patients, doctors reinforce the idea that patients will not be able to trust their medical providers. And by not trusting your medical providers, ace and other queer-adjacent folk will be less inclined to go to them for assistance, which puts our lives at risk. Medical establishments treating both physical and mental health need to expand their education, constantly update their terminology, and work to provide inclusive care. When I revealed to my therapist that I was asexual, she was affirming and positive about my orientation. In turn, I felt safe in our sessions, which allowed me to open up more. While no one can expect their healthcare providers to be aware of every issue, doctors and other medical professionals should be open to learning—and to admitting they’re not the ultimate authority on their patients’ needs. It’s up to the medical establishment to become more inclusive and to learn about the sociopolitical issues that could be affecting their patients’ mental and/or physical health. Most importantly, the medical community must learn and constantly understand that asexuality is a real identity. Asexuality isn’t an internet sexuality or a medical dysfunction. Asexual people aren’t broken—and doctors shouldn’t treat us as if we are.

by Michele Kirichanskaya
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Non-binary pronouns. It’s complicated, but wonderful things usually are.

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So. A few months ago Hailey said they felt like they were non-binary (someone who doesn’t identify as solely male or female), but that they were okay with “she/they” as pronouns, which was fine because it allowed me to be a good mother and say “I totally support what makes you happy” without actually havingContinue reading "Non-binary pronouns. It’s complicated, but wonderful things usually are."
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Gay conservative epically schooled after saying he doesn’t know why Pride Month is a ‘thing’

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A gay conservative has been absolutely schooled in a now-viral video after he claimed he never understood why Pride Month is a “thing”.

John S Blake, who has more than 362,000 followers on their TikTok account @blackfluidpoet, posted an immaculate and educational response to another creator on the platform. The video begins with the other TikToker, who describes himself as a “gay conservative”, saying he “never understood why Pride Month is a thing”.

Blake iconically began their response by lighting a cigarette, taking a deep puff and showcasing a host of LGBT+ literature. The stack included Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde; Unapologetic: A Black, Queer and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements by Charlene A Carruthers; Transgender History by Susan Striker and more.

Then, in a mic drop moment, Blake declared: “It’s because you don’t know the history or choose to ignore it.”

@blackfluidpoet

#stitch with @tobyduff #pridemonth #foryoupage #foryou #fyp #PerfectAsWeAre

♬ original sound – John S Blake

They explained that they were “alive in the 80s” when “our government was dragging their asses about AIDS” because there “weren’t that many gay people to be worried about”. Blake continued: “Many Americans had to come out in order for the country to recognise just how many people in this country were actually queer.

“They came out and lost their jobs. They came out and lost their families. They came out and lost their homes.

“You weren’t here for the bashings and the beatings. You wouldn’t even be making a video if it wasn’t for them.”

The powerful video quickly went viral, garnering more than 80,000 views and 24,000 likes on TikTok. It quickly spread to Twitter where it’s been viewed hundreds of thousands of times. One person on Twitter wrote that as soon as Blake “lit that cigarette I knew [they were] about to school his ass”.

The video attracted hundreds of comments responding to the epic takedown and sharing in the collective confusion as to why someone would question the necessity of Pride Month.

Another person wrote that they were “not even surprised” to see the gay conservative TikToker had “MAGA” tags in his original video.

The post Gay conservative epically schooled after saying he doesn’t know why Pride Month is a ‘thing’ appeared first on PinkNews - Gay news, reviews and comment from the world's most read lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans news service.

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Cozy Grove Summer Update (#2)

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(Note: if you haven’t already read it, please first read Summer Update #1, which includes lots of important information about new features that we won’t repeat here.)

Hey Scouts! It’s time to tell you more about what you can expect from the Summer Update. Let’s kick this off with yet another entirely new feature: Stone Skipping! (WIP – audio and vfx are still being finalized)

Every day, a limited number of mysterious, open-mouthed clamshells will reveal themselves beyond the shore. Find yourself a nice, flat skipping stone, toss it across the water into the clam, and rewards await you!

Amazingly, these clams are as appreciative of a skillful, many-skip stone toss as we humans, and will more generously reward scouts who manage to sneak in a few extra skips before hitting their target. Different-colored clams give different rewards; some give quartz, some cough up driftwood, and some will reward you with both of those things simultaneously. And on very rare occasion, even better rewards may emerge for a particularly generous clam.

For those of you who’ve unlocked a certain beach-loving character, you’ll be pleased to note that her recurring quest will no longer involve finding skipping stones, and will instead involve actually skipping stones. 😀

New event NPC: Darla O’Hare

Darla, like dear old Pandam, will be gracing Cozy Grove with her presence one day every week (Saturday, in her case.) And we do mean “gracing”… she’s got a very healthy ego and she’s not afraid to show it. Fortunately, she’s also quite friendly, and the source of some pretty cool new features and content!

  • Darla is willing to sell you second hand items from her rather extensive clothing collection. This includes, but is not limited to, *wigs*, which are effectively hairstyles that you can keep forever in your closet and swap into whenever you want.
  • If you let her, Darla will challenge you to dress up in a specific outfit for her (this can always be accomplished with clothing you already own and/or is currently available in stores that same day.) Completing Darla’s challenge will result in her awarding you with a unique clothing item that is not available anywhere else in the game! We’ve added a whole bunch of new clothing outfits just for this purpose.

New feature: animal naming!

So many of you have told us that you adore your spirit animals… so we decided to let you name them! No longer will your dear deer “Squishy-Poo” run around nameless and forelorn.

New content: more “decoy” item sets!

We’ve had the ability to make you search for a specific item from a set of similar-looking items for a while now, but we haven’t made much use of it. In the Summer Update, we’ll be adding several new sets of decoy items to various quests. Harvesting a decoy (instead of the true item you’re supposed to find) can cause a “bag bug” to hop into your backpack. You can get rid of those pests by tossing them into the water (or Flamey, if you’re feeling harsh.)

New content: treasure maps and lost lore!

It is now possible to find rare bits of “treasure maps” and “lost lore”. Once you’ve found all the pieces, you can assemble them for an especially large rewards!

New feature: shell model collecting!

Here’s a fact: one of our Bears loves shell collecting, and many of you Scouts also love the idea of collecting and decorating your island with shells. But up until now, you haven’t been able to do that, because decorating your island with old shells causes new shells to stop spawning.

Fortunately, we’ve got a solution for you! The aforementioned shell-loving-bear will now able to take your shells and convert them into “shell models.” These models look identical to the originals – they’re just a bit larger – and you can use them to decorate the island as you see fit.

New content: more background music!

We’ll be adding two new songs to the Cozy Grove soundtrack, brought to you by the same lovely composers who created the original music! We hope you love them.

————-

Ok, that’s it for the Summer Update. Mostly. There are a couple small surprises that we haven’t mentioned; we’ll let you discover those on your own. And of course, Ms. Carouse is still a total mystery (and we hope to keep it that way.) You can look forward to her arrival – for a limited window of time – on the first day of the summer event.

You can expect the features and content mentioned in this blog post to arrive in Steam Beta in the days ahead.

Love,
All the Spry Foxes

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How Universal Control on macOS Monterey works

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The best moment of this year’s WWDC keynote was a straightforward demo of a macOS feature, Universal Control. The idea is simple enough: it allows you to use the keyboard and trackpad on a Mac to directly control an iPad, and even makes it simple to drag and drop content between those devices.

What made the demo so impressive is how easy and seamless it all seemed. In a classic Apple move, there was no setup required at all. The segment happened so fast that it even seemed (incorrectly, as it turns out) like the Mac was able to physically locate the iPad in space so it knew where to put the mouse pointer.

After Zaprudering the clip and asking Apple a few questions, I now have a better understanding of what’s going on here. It turns out that the entire system is actually simpler than it first appears. It’s essentially a new way to use a bunch of technologies Apple had already developed. That’s not a knock on Universal Control — sometimes the best software features are a result of clever thinking instead of brute force technological improvements.

So here’s what’s happening in that demo.

First, you need to get the iPad and Mac relatively close to each other. Universal Control is built off the same Continuity and Handoff features that have long been a part of iOS and macOS. When the devices are close enough, their Bluetooth modules let each other know. Of course, all the devices here need to be on the same iCloud account for this to work.

Then, you start up Universal Control by dragging your mouse pointer all the way to the left or right edge of your Mac’s screen, then a little bit beyond that edge. When you do, the Mac will assume that you’re trying to drag the mouse over to another device, in this case the iPad.

So there’s no UWB location detection, just good old assumption. One note is that if you have lots of compatible devices, Monterey assumes that you’re dragging towards the last iPad or Mac you interacted with.

At this point, a Wi-Fi Direct connection is made and the iPad will show a small bar on the side with a little bump. It’s a sort of indicator that the iPad is aware you’re trying to drag a mouse into it. Keep dragging and pow, the bump breaks free into a circular mouse pointer. When the mouse is on the iPad screen, both it and the keyboard on your Mac control the iPad. Move it back to the Mac, and you control the Mac.

But there’s a clever little affordance built into that strange bar. There are a couple of arrows inside it, a hint that you can slide that bump up or down before it breaks free into the iPad itself. Doing that is how you line up the iPad’s screen with your Mac’s, so that dragging the mouse between the screens doesn’t result in a weird jump.

You go through the same process to set up a second device with Universal Control — it maxes out at three. If all this automatic setup sounds like a hassle, you can just go into system preferences and set a device as your preferred Universal Control buddy gadget.

However you set it up, you can drag and drop content between devices and it’ll use either Wi-Fi Direct or USB to transfer the files. Of course, if you’re dragging files into the iPad, make sure you have an app open (like Files) that can accept it.

That’s pretty much the long and the short of it. There are still some details to hash out, Apple tells me, and it isn’t available in the first developer preview. If you put your dock on the left or right edge of the screen, for example, it’s unclear if this whole setup will work.

What’s fascinating to me about this system — as I discuss in the video above — is that it’s only really possible because of a long series of software enhancements that have been built into the iPad over the years, including:

  1. Continuity, Handoff, and AirDrop. Universal Control isn’t technically AirDrop, but it’s the same basic idea. All of these are the basic ways that Apple devices communicate directly with each other instead of through the cloud.
  2. Multitasking. I’m not referring to split-screen, but the support for drag-and-drop that came along with the improved windowing options on the iPad.
  3. Keyboard and mouse support. That’s an obvious pre-requisite, but it wasn’t always obvious that Apple would put mouse support into the iPad.
  4. Sidecar. Sidecar’s the tool that lets you use an iPad as a second Mac monitor. I don’t think that Universal Control uses the same bits of software as Sidecar, but I do think that there were probably lessons there about latency that would prove useful here.

I had a hunch that there would be a similar story of evolution on the Mac side of this story. I figured that all the iPad and iOS technologies finding their way into the Mac with the last few releases played a part. Catalyst apps turned into native iPad apps for M1 Macs. Control Center, Shortcuts, and Focus mode all are iOS things that are also on the Mac.

Nice idea, but wrong. Apple tells me that the foundation on the Mac side is as simple as it seems, based on Continuity and Handoff.

I hope that Universal Control works as well in the real world as it did in this staged demo — and I know that’s no sure thing. But what I like about the feature is how it’s just a clever recombination of existing technologies that Apple had already built for other purposes.

Inside the Apple ecosystem, you expect that the trade you’re making for only using Apple devices is getting synergistic integrations like this. They’ve actually been rarer than I would have guessed the past few years. But as the Mac and the iPad start trading more and more features with each other, I expect we’ll see more of them going forward.

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dmsilvisart: pylertalma: my-pearl-on-sundays:“studio ghibli...

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dmsilvisart:

pylertalma:

my-pearl-on-sundays:

“studio ghibli romances be like “what if we didn’t kiss, but instead both spiritually matured as people because we met each other.”

(it’s what miyazaki wanted)

I adore this concept

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