International Asexuality Day – Kate Wood

April 6th marks the 3rd International Asexuality Day, a day on which we celebrate the asexual spectrum, focusing on the four themes of Awareness, Celebration, Education and Solidarity. For me, the most important of those themes is Solidarity. This theme fits with IAD’s strong goal of highlighting those Asexual organisations and activists in countries that tend to get overlooked because English is not their first language, or because they are small and under-resourced.

I collect, collate, and report on acts of acephobia and violence, and so I know that it is in these overlooked places that the greatest injustices and offences towards our community are taking place – but nobody is hearing about it, and even my own published research is underreporting it.

Acephobia is holding negative attitudes and acting in discriminatory or violent ways towards asexual people. In 2012, MacInnis and Hodson published a key paper “Intergroup bias towards “Group X”: Evidence of prejudice, dehumanization, avoidance and discrimination against asexuals”. This ground breaking work found that the heterosexual subjects of the studies involved didn’t just discriminate against asexual people more than any other sexual orientation, they found us to be “less human” than other groups.

Acephobia can be the microaggressions we all experience so frequently: “You just haven’t met the right person yet”, “Sex is what makes us human”, “It’s just a phase”. But repeated exposure to these kinds of dehumanising and demoralising statements can be very harmful – and acephobia can go beyond microaggressions.

In February, through the Ace & Aro Collective AU, I published my report into the 2021 Asexual Lived Experiences Survey. It’s the most comprehensive study into acephobic discrimination, violence and hate crime ever published. There were 1600 respondents to the survey, from all over the world, but primarily speaking English as their first language. Here are some of the things that we learned:

  • 33% of respondents felt they had been or might have been discriminated against by a religious organisation because they are asexual.
  • At least 39% of those respondents who have ever been in a relationship have experienced intimate partner violence. 87% of these violent relationships included some element of sexual violence.
  • 25% of respondents have experienced sexual violence that occurred because they are asexual. This includes about 10% of respondents who have experienced a corrective sexual assault (outside the context of a relationship).
  • 27.7% of respondents had experienced physical violence or threats because of their asexuality.

My research also took in acephobia in a medical context, finding that doctors, mental health professionals, and concerningly, relationship counsellors often have an ignorant and acephobic idea of what asexuality is and who asexual people are.

Many people tell me that acephobia isn’t real. “That’s not acephobia; that’s just misogyny, heteronormativity, rape culture, etc…”

I tell them “Well done. What you’ve done there is break down acephobia into its constituent parts. That doesn’t prove it doesn’t exist. It just proves it is complicated.”

One of the most complex (and interesting) ingredients of acephobia, and its aromantic equivalent, arophobia is something called “amatonormativity”. This is a term coined by Elizabeth Brake in her 2012 book Minimizing Marriage: Marriage, Morality, and the Law. Put very simply, amatonormativity is the assumption in a society that every person’s ultimate goal is or should be a monogamous romantic relationship. The society may come to accept same-gender relationships, non-binary gender, and that marriage is no longer necessary – but monogamy and romance are still held up as the ultimate standard.

Another way of talking about this concept is “the Relationship Escalator”: First a couple meet, then they date, move in together, perhaps get married, have children… They go through each step in the correct order, standing on the escalator and unable to deviate from the set path and journey upward.

Asexuality (and aromanticism) challenges amatonormativity. Some asexual people do want to ride the Relationship Escalator. But many do not. A lot of people don’t know how to deal with such a break from what has always been embedded in them as the natural way of things.

Acephobia has a lot of ingredients: amatonormativity, misogyny, patriarchy, racism, queerphobia, ableism, and probably a host more that I’ve forgotten or not yet identified. Acephobia is assuming women don’t enjoy sex, or only enjoy sex with an emotional connection (“all women are demisexual”). It’s the intense pressure on men to feel sexual that we believe dramatically lowers the number of men identifying as asexual. It’s the idea that asexuality is for “white women”, because Black and Asian women are hypersexualised and fetished. Acephobia is equating asexuality and autism, implying one or both are defects in some way.

On International Asexuality Day, I want to raise Awareness and Educate about what acephobia is and what harm it does to our community. I also want to Celebrate those who, like me, make up those distressing statistics about surviving violence and discrimination. We are survivors. We continue to be asexual – and I hope my fellow asexual survivors will carry on like myself and be unapologetically, aggressively asexual today and every day.

Most of all, I have Solidarity with those asexuals in the parts of the world where they did not have access to our survey. We know from our contacts working on the ground in places where we had very few responses that these are also the exact places where the worst human rights abuses against asexual people take place – meaning my statistics are underestimating the situation. It would not be right to wish you a Happy International Asexuality Day without also wishing you a meaningful and productive one. Do what you can to be or support an International Asexual!

#Asexual #IAD2013 #LGBTIQA


Brake, E. (2012). Minimizing Marriage: Marriage, Morality, and the Law. Oxford Academic. DOI:

Maccinnes, C.C., & Hodson, G. (2012). Intergroup bias towards “Group X”: Evidence of prejudice, dehumanization, avoidance and discrimination against asexuals. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 15(6). DOI:

Wood, K. (2022). “I don’t know if this counts, but …” A detailed study of acephobic discrimination, violence, oppression and hate crime. Retrieved from:  

Some useful ace resources

The Ace & Aro Collective Australia:

ACT Aces (private group):

ACT Aces (public page):