2011 AAW Committee’s Open Letter to Researchers

In 2011, the Asexual Awareness Week organizing committee released the following document, an open letter to researchers encouraging them to keep in mind several unique complications of asexual research when designing their own research project.

It was originally hosted on asexualitystudies.org, but that site went down in 2013, so the original can now only be accessed through web archives.

However, I think much of the advice remains relevent, so I wanted to re-share the letter here now, with the addition of a few small annotations based on more recent information.

Open Letter to Researchers:

We believe that researchers have an invaluable role to play in promoting understanding of asexuality, and that a better understanding of asexuality will promote a richer understanding of human sexuality more generally. Prior to the creation of online asexual communities in the early 2000s, the study of asexuality was largely limited to isolated case reports with no means of doing more systematic research. Thanks to the growth of online communities—and increasingly offline communities as well—the possibilities for researching asexuality have grown enormously, and an increasing number of people in a variety of disciplines are studying it. As members and allies of the asexual community, we are committed to promoting research on asexuality and working with researchers in a variety of fields. Based on our experience in the asexual community, we have a number of observations and recommendations:

1) People studying asexuality often face a tension between wanting to using existing instruments and developing new ones. Often, the former have already been validated (on very different populations) and using existing instruments allows for comparison with previous research. However, the possible answers to closed questions are limited to the range of variability that was expected/taken into account when creating the survey. Because the existence of asexuals was not taken seriously in the creation of many existing instruments, results from asexuals taking such surveys may be very misleading. [1]

Therefore, if existing instruments are used, the fact that they have been validated on other populations should not be taken to indicate they are valid for asexuals. Crunch the numbers, but also keep in mind that measures of internal consistency (e.g., Cronbach alpha) assess psychometric reliability and neither determine construct validity nor content validity. Verifying an instrument’s construct (or content) validity is a lengthy process that cannot rely strictly on statistical means (Cronbach & Meehl, 1955). It is crucial that researchers consult with asexual people (e.g., in focus groups) in order to determine whether an instrument assesses relevant or sufficient aspects of the construct of interest.

2) The above described problems are especially applicable for many surveys on sexual function/dysfunction, which may make assumptions that are not true for many asexuals, with the result that asexuals are often confused by some of the questions, uncertain how to answer, and feel that they are being forced to misrepresent themselves. This is regularly seen in discussion in threads where calls for participants are posted. Such confusion rises because of assumptions about previous sexual experience and problematic assumptions about sexual desire.

Therefore, the possibility for feedback should be given. In traditional experimental contexts, this is often done in exit interviews. For online research, textboxes may be used. This is necessary for understanding if people’s responses accurately reflect how they feel or if the responses are an artifact of confusing questions for which none of the responses seems accurate. Participant feedback should be taken seriously when interpreting the results. This feedback should also be used not only to help interpret the results, but also to assess the instrument’s validity. Our experience has been that for many existing instruments, many asexuals feel that they must either discontinue participation or repeatedly misrepresent themselves questions about sensitive subjects (e.g. sexuality), which can cause distress. If this is likely to occur, it should be discussed in the consent form.

More generally, it is important for researchers–nonasexual researchers in particular–to try to understand asexual participants in ways that makes sense from asexual perspectives. This is analogous to how heterosexual researchers studying lesbian, gay, bisexual or otherwise non-heterosexual participants should avoid imposing their own heterosexual perspectives and heteronormative assumptions upon participants. Researchers studying asexuality should make every reasonable attempt to become familiar with asexuality and the asexual community beyond the narrow confines of their research. This can be done by consulting directly with asexual people and by reading products of asexual self-expression (e.g., diverse blog posts, zine articles, etc.) [2]. Because of the role that the internet has played in enabling the creation of asexual communities, a great deal of asexual-produced materials about asexuality are online, and navigating these online spaces can be daunting for researchers, especially ones not overly familiar with new media technologies. Talking to people familiar with asexual online spaces may be helpful for researchers wanting to familiarize themselves with asexual discourse.

3) In asexual discourse, it is common to distinguish between sexual attraction and sexual desire. Many asexuals masturbate, and one way of explaining this is with a concept of “undirected sex drive,” where the idea is that desire for sexual release exists, but it is not directed at anyone. Because of this, many asexuals are confused by questions about “sexual desire,” unsure about whether this means desire for sexual release and desire for partnered sexual behavior.

Therefore, the meanings of potentially confusing terms (e.g. “sexual desire”) should be made clear to participants.

4) Another major problem with sexual function/dysfunction questionnaires is that they assume everyone fits neatly into a strict gender binary. However, existing data (Asexual Visibility and Education Network [AVEN], 2009; Asexual Awareness Week, 2011; Brotto et al., 2009) suggests that between 5-20% of people active in online asexual communities do not. [3] Systematically excluding these people is ethically questionable and methodologically very problematic.

Therefore, gender diversity in the asexual community should be taken seriously in research designs. If you do rely on instruments that require people to choose either a male-version or a female-version, this should be made clear when explaining eligibility for the study. In order to prevent negative attitudes towards the researchers, explaining the reason for this decision is advisable.

5) Some–but not all–people identifying as asexual feel that they are “not sexual.” Another way of understanding “asexual” is on analogy with hetero- homo- and bisexual, where asexuals are people who do not experience sexual attraction. Asexuals vary in terms of their understanding of asexuality. Since early in the asexual community, many have been uncomfortable with the term “asexual,” but people have been unable to find a term that is widely preferred. Moreover, the term has gained considerable currency over the past decade, and some use it for lack of a better term.

Therefore, it should not be assumed that everyone identifying as “asexual” feels that they are “not sexual.” This is a matter that must be investigated, not accepted a priori.

6) Many studies on asexuality have recruited participants online. The largest online asexual community is the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN), and many researchers have recruited there. In March 2011, AVEN created a set of policies for researchers wanting to recruit from AVEN. Interested parties are encouraged to read these policies (AVEN, 2011). [4]

We believe that taking these into consideration can help to facilitate research on the asexuality and to help researchers avoid mistakes that are easy to fall into.

Sincerely,
Asexual Awareness Week 2011 Committee

References:
Asexual Visibility and Education Network. (2009). AVEN Survey 2008 – Results. Retrieved 11/6/2011 from http://www.asexuality.org/home/2008_stats.html

Asexual Visibility and Education Network. (2011). Rules for research requests: New policy. Retrieved 11/6/2011 from http://www.asexuality.org/en/index.php?/topic/59868-rules-for-research-requests/

Brotto, L. A., Knudson, G., Inskip, J., Rhodes, K., & Erskine, Y. (2010). Asexuality: A mixed methods approach. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 39 (3), 599-618.

Asexual Awareness Week. (2011). Results of the asexual community census 2011. Retrieved 11/6/2011 from http://www.facebook.com/notes/asexual-awareness-week/results-of-the-asexual-community-census-2011/208581089214485

Cronbach, L. J., & Meehl, P. E. (1955). Construct validity in psychological test. Psychological
Bulletin , 52 (4), 281-302.

Annotations by me:

[1] Consider, for example, this case example in which phrasing in the “Coldness” section of the Inventory of Interpersonal Relationships may cause issues with some asexual or aromantic people.

[2] If you want suggestions for how to start finding ace community content, I recommend  starting with the Ace Zine Archive, the Carnival of Aces, the AZE journal, the Asexual Agenda’s biweekly linkspams, and the AVENues magazine. For bonus aromantic content, try the Carnival of Aros.

[3] More recent surveys from the Ace Community Survey Project suggest that that number may be even higher with more like 20-30% of respondents indicating a gender other than male or female.

[4] AVEN has since updated their researcher policies; you can find the latest version here.

What’s the deal with this “Ace Day” Thing?

This document is a work in progress, and changes will be made as additional information is discovered. If you have any suggestions, corrections, requests for clarifications, or archived copies of missing links that you would be willing to share, leave a comment or drop me a line at sennkestra@gmail.com

As some of you may (or may not) know, many aces were taken by surprise on May 8th, 2020 by a flurry of “#aceday” and “#acevisibilityday” tweets that eventually went trending, as well as some complaints generated about things like date choices and vague references to 2015 that probably make no sense to anyone who is newer to the ace community. In the wake of the event, there’s also been a lot of confusion and misinformation going around about what ace day is, when it is, who’s involved, and what its history is.

In light of that, wanted to compile some notes and links to relevant bits of history that I remember from the original ace day campaigns and controversy, which date back to 2015 when it was created by theasexualityblog, as well as a bit about what I have found about what lead to #acevisibilityday suddenly showing up as a trending tag this year (after the event nearly disappearing into obscurity in the intervening years, as well as being previously celebrated for several years on a completely different date).

This is not meant to be a complete narrative of that history; but I hope that the sources included here may be helpful for anyone who would be interested in attempting such a history. Unfortunately, because many of the blogs involved have since changed their names or been deleted, many of the original posts are gone. I’ve tried to provide archived versions or reblogged versions wherever possible.

Please also note that this still doesn’t include the vast majority of commentary – for either event –  just because there was so much activity that it would get overwhelming. Instead, I’ve tried to include a sampling of some of the main points I remember seeing as someone active in ace communities around that time. I’ve also deliberately focused on discussions that were occurring within the ace community, rather than reactions from outside the community.

Read More »

X-Post From Tumblr: On the coining of “allosexual” and it’s relation (or not) to the work of Eve Sedgewick

A/N: So, Tumblr’s seems to have have updated something on the site that now completely messes up the text order of posts on my main page (even if they display ok on the dashboard), so I’m crossposting my recent reply here for anyone who wants to read it in the actual correct order.

A/N 2: Reading this again after writing, and I am realizing it comes off rather negatives….I do want to clarify that really, I actually think the introduction is very good and much more in touch with ace community online discourse than most academics. I just also like to nitpick, and fixing these in future works could hoepfully help bring things from “very good” to “extremely good”.

On November 19th, I sent this ask to Metapianycist:

Hello! This is nextstepcake messaging you from my home blog. I had a question about your coining of “allosexual” – was it at all inspired or influenced by Eve Sedgewicks work on the “alloerotic” at the time? There’s a new book out which has a minor citation that cite’s sedgewick’s work as the ace communities inspiration for creating the term, which doesn’t sound quite right to me, but I wanted to reach out to you first as the actual expert before making any comment in case it is in fact true.

The next day, they responded:

I checked my posts tagged allosexual to see if I could provide sources for you, and I found a post where I referenced scientific usage here. The work I cited at the time (I linked to this page) was the following, which uses the words autosexual and allosexual in its abstract, to describe sexual behavior as self- or other-directed, respectively:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11912001

I don’t think I have ever heard of Eve Sedgewick’s work on “alloerotic.” I was thinking only of “allistic” when I decided to create the word allosexual. Here’s a post from 2015 where I say I modeled allosexual based on allistic (which i did before I discovered the clinical/scientific usage): https://metapianycist.tumblr.com/post/130278620588/queerascat-epochryphal-epochryphal

I am very curious about this new book and its citations? Because it is definitely not the case that I referred to any academic work on sexuality/eroticism when I decided to coin “allosexual.”

To which I replied with a probably overly long response:

Thanks for the elaboration! That jives more with my own memories – I was one of the cranky people who complained at the time that allosexual was going to be confused with “allosexual” (as opposed to “autosexual”) in sexological works, which ended up not being much of an issue at all in the long run, but I remember that that point didn’t get pointed out until fairly retroactively after it started gaining traction, and even then all the citations of outside works (whether in favor or against the term) were all referring to the use of “allosexual” in sexology, and in my memory at least never mentioned Sedgewick at all.

Read More »

ACHA-NCHA II and Asexuality: Initial Explorations

Since I don’t actually have time to do any deeper analysis anytime soon, here’s a brief peek at my initial graphic representations of data from the NCHA over the last several years, both before and after adding “asexual” as an option for sexual orientation.

As I’ve written before, the NCHA is a neat dataset because it’s a decently large, randomized, recurring survey that (as of the last several years) has collected data on asexual identity. The fact that it’s a biannual survey that switched from having only a few sexuality options to having both asexuality and several other emerging identities also gives some potential insight into how changing question wording changes responses – because while trends in sexual identification change over time, the ~6 month period between surveys is brief enough that you can at least make a reasonable guess that a large part of any discrepancies between the before-and-after results is likely at least in large part due to the change in survey structure.

For the chart below, I’ve broken out how the approximate percents for each sexual orientation category have changed over the years. Surveys from before the addition of asexuality are marked in red, and surveys from after the addition of asexuality are marked in blue. When reviewing the chart, however, please keep in mind that results here are affected by many factors, including sampling pools that differ somewhat year to year, survey structure, change in identity trends over time, and simple random chance; this preview does not include any analysis that could determine which changes are significant enough to be simply a result of chance so you have to take any seeming trends with a grain of salt.

*Please also note that I’ve taken a few liberties in grouping similar categories from the pre-2015 and post-2015 in order to save on space – these groups are not necessarily directly comparable due to differences in survey wording (especially in the case of “unsure” and “another identity”), but they are thematically similar enough that I find it interesting to group them adjacent to each other. I’ve also lumped together “Gay” and “Lesbian” in the post-2015 data for convenience when comparing to the pre-2015 group “Gay/Lesbian”.

**I also haven’t double checked for typos (hence the axis with decimal instead of percent units) so if you want to do any serious analysis, I suggest you start with the raw NCHA data here.

NCHA 14-17 TableNCHA 14-17 Straight ChartNCHA 14-17 Non-Straight Chart

If you find this kind of data interesting, definitely check out the original NCHA reports page. I’m also happy to share the excel files used here upon request.

“Asexual” Updated in the OED

(Take that, “but that’s not what the dictionary says” sticklers!)

This March, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), which is widely considered the most comprehensive of authorative english language dictionary, released a new update that included major additions and expansions to sexual and gender identity terminology. (This is part of a series of ongoing revisions, with new releases roughly every three months, as part of the process of generating the third edition of the OED).

Part of this update was a major overhaul of the entry for “Asexual“, which has been greatly expanded from the original 1989 definition by the addition of several different “senses”, or possible meanings of the word. Each sense was also given additional dated historical use sample citations from various primary sources. [A/N The entry for “asexuality” and was similarly updated. I have not transcribed it here since it follows similar lines, but I could add it in a separate post if there is interest.]

The actual OED definitions are behind a paywall, but if you have a library card there is a good chance your library already subscribes, so you can login with just your library card number. If not, you can look below the read more to view the relevant excerpts with links to full PDF snapshots.

Overall, as an ace and an amateur linguistics enthusiast, I have to say I’m pretty well satisfied by this update – at least as far as “asexual” and “asexuality” goes. Now we just need to coax them into adding ace, aromantic, and all the other community lingo…

Read More »

Asexual Prevalence in the ACHA-NCHA II

Today I wanted to highlight a pretty cool but little known new source of potential asexual prevalency information: The ACHA NCHA II. (s/o to David Jay for sending me a link to this!)

The ACHA-National College Health Assessment II (ACHA-NCHA II) is a national research survey organized by the American College Health Association (ACHA) to assist college health service providers, health educators, counselors, and administrators in collecting data about their students’ habits, behaviors, and perceptions on the most prevalent health topics.

ACHA initiated the original ACHA-NCHA in 2000 and the instrument was used nation wide through the spring 2008 data collection period. The ACHA-NCHA now provides the largest known comprehensive data set on the health of college students, providing the college health and higher education fields with a vast spectrum of information on student health. A revised survey, the ACHA-NCHA-II, has been in use since the fall 2008 data collection period.

As of Fall 2015, the ACHA-NCHA-II has revamped their sexual orientation question language, including the addition of asexual as an option – making this now one of the only large, randomized studies to ask directly about asexual identity, not just lack of sexual attraction or lack of sexual behavior. It is, however, limited to college students, so the findings may not be generalizable to the general population.

While data is released twice a year, so that we have three sequential reports with ace inclusion, I’m going to present only the most recent data from the 2016 Fall Reference Report:

Students describe themselves as:

Asexual: 6.0 % 
Bisexual: 5.7 %
Gay: 1.6 %
Lesbian: 1.0 %
Pansexual: 1.5 %
Queer: 0.7 %
Questioning: 1.4 %
Same Gender Loving 0.1 %
Straight/Heterosexual 81.1 %
Another identity: 0.9 %

That’s a big number!

On the one hand, that percentage seems unusually high when compared to Bogaert’s classic 1% finding, which was based on reported lack of sexual attraction rather than reported identity. On the other hand, the UC Campus Climate surveys – which also asked college student populations about their a/sexual orientation with similar language – had similarly higher findings at 4.6% on average, so it’s not just an outlier.

There is some speculation that the high numbers in both this and the UC surveys were a result of sexually inactive responders being confused about how to answer, rather than “real” asexuals. However, I’d argue that, first, who are we to say who’s “really asexual” vs. just “confused”, but also that an understanding of sexual orientation that includes the possibility of both fluidity and multiple overlapping identities makes this number seem less absurd. Even if this does turn out to be largely influenced by sexually inexperienced young people who not continue to identify as asexual, that’s still worthwhile to know, and the fact that they might change that identify or not be out and loud about it doesn’t invalidate the fact that they find it fitting now. While I’d still treat these findings with caution, I don’t thinks we should be dismissing them out of hand either.

In addition, we know from experience with the Ace Census that only about 69% of self-identified asexuals actually indicated that they had no sexual attraction at all to any gender, which means that measures like “no sexual attraction to any gender” capture only one segment of the actual asexual population, so that’s another possible reason why this is so much higher.

The fact that this is a study repeated every year also means that we can compare data to some extent year over year – I encourage any interested followers to look into this in more depth, but just for a quick comparison while I’m at it, here’s the data from Spring 2015 (the last report before the question change):

Students describe themselves as:
Heterosexual: 88.5 %
Gay/Lesbian: 3.3 %
Bisexual: 5.5 %
Unsure: 2.8 %

So, assuming there wasn’t a massive rise in the popularity of asexuality over the next year (highly doubtful), it’s not just people from the “unsure” group who are now checking other options like asexual  – there are, presumably, some people who might othewise have identified as a more “traditional” identity when those were the only options. Interestingly, we have precedent for this in other ace research too – in the 1999-2000 Toronto Sun/COMPAS Sex Surveys, which I’ve written about before, a phone survey that found that around 2% of respondants identified as “non-sexual” without prompting in a 1999 survey, but later found that that number jumped to 5% when “non-sexual” was actually listed as an option.

(We actually collected data on how aces respond to more vs. less inclusive questions like these in the ace census, but that analysis is still forthcoming – but it will be interesting to compare to the results here once it’s out!)

Anyway, if anyone out here is a grad student looking for a project, or just someone with a lot of time on their hands who wants to do some amateur research, there’s lots of potential fodder to work with for you here.

And finally, here’s a link to all the reports: http://www.acha-ncha.org/pubs_rpts.html

Help Wanted: Crowdsourcing a Comprehensive Asexual Research Bibliography!

Now that the Asexual Explorations bibliography has officially been retired, there is a dearth of good resources for people who want to start reading up on asexual research but have no idea where to start. Bibliographies – whether comprehensive or more finely curated – help people discover more about a field by indexing relevant article in one place, instead of leaving people to stumble around on search engines on their own.

That’s where the asexual research zotero library comes in  – the goal here is to initially work on a comprehensive bibliography of as much known asexual research as possible, followed by curated sub-lists which will be more streamlined and accessible for people looking for research on a specific topic.

Please see the link below for some more details, or shoot me an email at sennkestra@gmail.com if you want to help or if you have any questions or suggestions! We are super open to any feedback or suggestions anyone might have for how to structure or run this project, since it’s the first time we’ve tried anything like this.

http://asexualresearch.tumblr.com/post/156615315572/asexual-research-zotero-bibliography

A is for…A Case Study

A/N: This is mostly a linkdump, but may be of interest if you are an ace history nerd interested in the history of “A” in one particular LGBTQIA Acronym

One of the first places that I remember seeing “LGBTQIA” with an “A” for Asexual was in 2011, at the Western Regional LGBTQIA Conference at UC Berkeley – I remember attending and getting really excited about the fact that the pamphlets, which were covered by repeating patterns of all the words in the LGBTQIA acronym, also featured the words “asexual” (and I was even more excited about Siggy’s presentation).

So, that particular conference left a lasting impression on me, and when I later started looking into the history of the “A” in LGBTQIA, that conference was one of the first places I looked into – I wondered how long that “A” has been for “asexual” and what history lead us there. Here’s what I found:


 

The Beginning:  “A is for…..Association?!?!”

So, to start with, we should go over the history of the Western Regional Conference. Before there was even a conference, there was the UCLGBA – the University of California Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Association, an support organization founded in 1991 for leaders of various lesbian, gay and/or lesbian organizations on the nine UC Campuses.

There’s not a lot of easily accessible documentation for this time period, but in the small cache of documents that are available, one document is the chronicle of official UCLGB(ti)A meetings from 1990 to 1997, including their annual “General Assemblies” – the precursor to what would eventually become Western Regional.

While early documents of the “UCLGBA” only list out lesbian, gay and bisexual, at some between 1992 ans 1998, a “T” was added to create “UCLGBTA“.

In 2001, an “I” for “Intersex” was added to the org’s name and their scope of work, becoming the UCLGBTIA

Throughout both these transitions, the A seemed to (as far as I could tell) still stand for “association”

Although early General Assemblies began to host small conferences as soon as 1995, the big shift came in 2005, when they shifted to a more public regional conference, open to non-UC students, known as the “Western Regional LGBTQIA” conference – western regionals had arrived.


 

The allies arrive to the party

While the UCLGBTIA continues to use “A” for “Association”, we see definite changes starting in the actual Western Regional conference materials:

In 2005, the Western Regional LGBTQIA College Conference at UC Davis gives us our first inclusion of “Allies”:

16th Annual Western Regional
Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Queer Intersex Allies
College Conference

In  announcements for the 2007 UC Riverside Conference (they skipped a year) we see the same

“UC Riverside has been selected to host the 17th Western Regional Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Allies (LGBTQIA) College Conference Feb. 16-18, 2007.

The theme of the conference will be “Out of the Rainbow & Into the Streets” and will explore the metaphor of the rainbow as the symbol of the homogeneity of LGBTQIA community, which many feel has often excluded and misrepresented various constituencies. It will also examine the kinds of actions that should be taken to help eliminate stereotyping and gain equal access under the law.”

We see something similar in the 2008 conference text and announcements:

“Viva la Queervolution!” is the theme of the 18th Western Regional LGBTQIA College Conference, hosted by UCLA.

The conference brings together lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex people and allies for 3 days of programs, speakers and community building.

I couldn’t find the any spelling out of the acronym on the archived bits of the 2009 conference, but the 2010 conference bid packet text makes it even more explicit:

What is the name of the conference?
Western Regional LGBTQIA College Conference

What does LGBTQIA stand for?
Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer (Questioning) Intersex Allies

Why don’t you use LGBTQQIA?
Because some areas of the region are not yet comfortable with the word “Queer,” so they would have the option of saying “Questioning” for the “Q.”

The later 2010 conference announcement continues the theme:

“Honor the Past, Impact the Present, Define Our Future”” is the theme of the 20th Western Regional LGBTQIA College Conference, hosted by Cal Poly SLO.

The conference brings together lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex people and allies for 3 days of programs, speakers and community building.

Basically, from 2005 to 2010, it’s allies all around (and nary an “asexual” in sight).

And then, we get to 2011, which is our Combo Breaker.


 

Now, I have to admit that I am definitely biased towards the 2011 Western Regional Conference, both as a Berkeley student (we hosted this year, which is also, I suspect, a strong reason why ace inclusion happened at this particular conference, as Cal was already starting to include asexuality in their queer community programming at this point, probably at least in part due to the influence of David Jay living across the bay), and since this is the only real Western Regional that I ever attended in person I have more knowledge of it. But this is definitely the first year where “A” starts to shift from Ally to Asexual.

The 2011 website has some differences in wording that give some initial clues that paradigms are changing. First, unlike previous western regional websites, this site explicitly positions “allies” as a separate group outside of LGBTQIIA:

Open to LGBTQQIIA identifying individuals & allies from high school ages and up.

In fact, as far as I can tell, they never actually spell out LGBTQQIIA on the website, though they did in printed materials (as I mentioned above). And while the website does not mention asexuality outside of the listing for Siggy’s panel, from what I recall the printed materials definitely did – and they had an A for Asexual. So partial progress, but progress nonetheless.

(This is also, as far as I can tell from the few years where event listings were online, the first western regional to have any ace presenters.)

in 2012, they seemed to take 2011’s lead by only writing LGBTQIA on the (minimalist) website with no breakdown, so it’s not clear how the A was used there – I’d need more materials for that. Though one announcement seems to backslide by implying it’s hosted by an A is for Allied organization:

Cost: Keynote is free and open to the public. Conference registration ranges from $30 -$50.

Group: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex and Allied (LGBTQIA)
 

This was also co-hosted by University of the Pacific, which had a seperate prior conference that was merged into this, so that may affect things.

And then, finally, the last Western Regional was in Santa Cruz in 2013. Their website does not appear to have been archived, so all I have so far is their mission statement:

Coloring in the Spectrum. Strength, Solidarity, Sustainability.”

Western Regional LGBTQIA Conference 2013 at UC Santa Cruz is a conference that is rooted in the inclusiveness of all queer identities and its intersections, especially those based in sexuality, class, gender and race. The conference will strive to create a space where all aspects of the spectrum of identities are represented and as many possible intersections of these identities can be explored through workshops and engaging speakers. We also envision a conference that is environmentally sustainable and as such it is our goal to make this a zero impact conference. Additionally, the conference aims to use these opportunities to create a more unified, aware, and skillful group that will challenge heteronormatives and engage their communities in the form of activism, awareness, and education for a more diverse and empowered future.

Which makes no attempt to explain the acronym, so I don’t know if asexuality stuck or not.

After this, the Western Regional conference failed to find a host for the next year, and went on a “hiatus” that it never recovered from.


 

The Takeaway

In the end, this is just a random case study: it’s doesn’t tell us about overall trends, but it gives insight into one specific example. In this case, it shows an example evolution of the “A” in LGBTIA – from merely referring to the act that a group was an “association”, before T was even added to the acronym; to the transformation into an  A for “ally” in an expanded acronym 2005; to finally the second transformation of that A into an for “asexual” as well in 2011.

Anyway, if anyone sees this who has more knowledge of Western Regional history, I’d definitely be curious to hear your thoughts!

Take the 2016 Ace Community Census!

It’s that time of year again – we are now recruiting participants for the ace community census!

The ace community census is an annual survey by the Asexual Visibility and Education Network which collects valuable information on the demographics and experiences of members of the ace community. It is the largest survey of ace communities and creates a valuable pool of data for future ace community activists and researchers.

The survey is open to anyone: ace, non-ace, or still questioning, as long as you are over the age of 13 we want to hear from you! We want to get a wide variety of responses from as many parts of the community as possible, so we encourage you to share this link with any other ace individuals you know or any ace communities you participate in.

Click here to take the 2016 Ace Community Census!

For answers to common questions about the survey, please see the FAQ here.

Any results and analysis will be published on asexualcensus.wordpress.com

 

Source: Take the 2016 Ace Community Census!