Consensuality

I’m in two polyamorous romantic relationships (yay me! ahem…) They’re both asexual relationships, but until a month ago, only one of them was.

I finally summoned up the courage to tell the partner I’ve been reluctantly sexual with/for that I couldn’t be that any more. It wasn’t an easy conversation at first, though in the end they made their peace with it – because it had been on the cards since we first got together (I’d always told them I was essentially asexual).

But what clinched it, for both of us in a way, was that after we’d agreed to take sex off the menu at least for the moment, they suggested trying a role-play where they would ask me if I wanted to have sex later, so that I could experience saying no. And what we found was that even in that most supportive of contexts, I still almost can’t.

What I’ve come to realise as a consequence of that conversation is that I don’t think I’ve ever had consensual sex in my life – by which I mean that I can’t actually consent, because (as a consequence of an abusive childhood) in the moment I find it near impossible to withhold consent.

I’ve got no idea what this is going to mean in the long run, but right now it’s very, very liberating to acknowledge that this is a true thing about me, and to have immediate, direct experience to back it up (for those times when I might turn up the self-doubt to 11).

And it’s freed me up into sensuality. I mean, I’ve already been describing myself for a few years as asexual and polysensual – but knowing that the person I’m being sensual with knows that from me, it’s absolutely not going to be foreplay, makes me feel way more safe to express my passionate self sensually instead. 

I still experience a lot of confusion. Being part of a very sexualised society, and having had a very sexualised childhood too, some part of me is strongly inclined to interpret physical intimacy through a sexual lens; I also have a body that does sexual response, though I’ve no desire to act on that. But this is a confusion I understand well enough not to be distressed by it. I’m embracing my consensuality now… 🙂 

X-celsior!

british passportOver here in the UK (I’m guessing that most people who read this are elsewhere, but who knows?) we have only two options on our passport for recording “sex” – the ubiquitous F and M.

A number of people (recently including me) have been trying to get the HM Passport Office (as it’s known this year – they keep changing their name) to follow the lead of Australia, New Zealand, and other countries, and add a non-gendered option, an X.

To date, everyone who has written to the UKPO saying “I need this, please” has received a boilerplate response, basically (and insultingly) saying “We are not aware of a need for this.” Really. That’s what everyone who has expressed a need has been told.

And see here for Complicity’s very comprehensive breakdown of HMPO’s crap façade of a recent “review” of the issue.

Who does need this? (you may ask…) Well for starters, anyone who feels, as I do, that there’s no good reason to show a person’s sex on their identification documentation in the first place.

And then there are those of us who do not identify as having a binary gender (or any gender at all) or sex, and who feel misgendered every time we have to present our documentation, and some of whose other documentation may not even match, since there are other organisations (such as many banks) who are already allowing for non-gendered titles and suchlike.

And ditto for those many intersex people, of course, who do not identify with a binary sex.

The gender/sex binaries do not accurately represent a certain proportion of the UK population, and sex doesn’t belong printed on the passport, especially now that all sorts of other biometric info is electronically stored in the passport to distinguish us.

There’s a current GoPetition petition created by the non-gendered activist Christie Elan-Cane to lobby the government to do something to address this, but it hasn’t yet had much exposure, so there are not many votes on it yet. If you live in the UK and feel moved to sign this – either because it’s meaningful to you personally, or because you know someone (like me!) for whom it is, or because you simply agree with it – please go ahead and sign this, and share it wherever you share such things (I’m delighted that writing about this on my facebook wall has already added 10 signatures to the petition, for example, and many of those are from people who acknowledge the need, even though it is not theirs – in fact, since I and a few friends started posting about this, it’s leapt up by almost 100 already).

http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/in-support-of-‘x’-passports-in-the-united-kingdom.html

While we’re on the subject, blogger Cassian Lodge is planning to instigate a campaign to lobby for legal recognition of non-binary genders – see their tumblr post about this if you’re interested to get involved.

male-female-neither