Asexuality — never feeling sexually attracted, to anyone — should be formally recognized as a distinct, fourth sexual orientation, Canadian researchers say.
Half a century after zoologist Alfred Kinsey lumped people with no interest in sex into group “X” on his one-to-seven heterosexual-to-homosexual rating scale, a new review by University of British Columbia researchers concludes asexuality isn’t some form of “psychopathology” or an extreme version of low sex drive.
Rather, “we surmise that the available evidence points to asexuality being best conceptualized as a unique sexual orientation,” as legitimate as being straight, gay or bisexual, the authors write in the latest edition of Archives of Sexual Behaviour.
They and other international sex scholars are also backing a move to have “asexual” added as a response option to questions around sexual identity in the next U.K. census, arguing it would validate the experience of asexuals and challenge the assumption all humans are sexual animals.
“The best-known figure at present suggests that around one per cent of the population is asexual,” states an open letter to the U.K. Office of National Statistics, which is reportedly considering adding asexuality to its 2021 census questionnaire. The letter is supported and signed by Brock University professor Anthony Bogaert — who resurrected the field of research on the topic a decade ago — and 14 other sex academics and social scientists.
“Therefore, it is most likely that the best part of a million British residents are asexual, yet we have almost no data that sheds light on the causes of asexuality, its correlates or the implications of identifying as asexual,” the sex academics write.
Making asexuality a unique sexual orientation group “would challenge much of the stigma and myths that suggest asexual individuals are just celibate, or that this is some kind of manifestation of psychopathology or trauma,” Brotto, lead author of the newly published review, said in an interview.
“It might lessen that debate around ‘this is due to something else,’ and not that the individual is simply born this way.”