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Medical journal publishes paper on ‘greysexuality’

Term ‘intentionally vague,’ one website explains

A short medical journal paper recently covered a lesser-known sexuality – “greysexuality.”

The term refers to people who “[experience] sexual attraction rarely or under specific circumstances.”

It is part of “asexuality,” the scholars wrote in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

“Asexuality is an umbrella term that includes demisexuality (only experiencing sexual attraction after emotional bonds form) and greysexuality,” the authors wrote. “Asexual people may engage in sex and experience romantic attraction,” Stella Schneckenburger, Michelle Tam, and Lori Ross wrote.

None of the three researchers responded to two emailed inquiries sent in the past several weeks that asked what the benefit of using the new terms is and how they hoped this information would be used.

WebMed says the term is “hard to define” and “intentionally vague” so as “to accommodate the people who fall somewhere between asexual and sexual.”

An ethicist told The College Fix that new “labels” are not needed for every sexual identity.

“Much of this seems driven by a belief that having a label validates one’s sexual preferences,” Nathanael Blake with the Ethics and Public Policy Center said in his email. “[W]e do not need to invent labels for every newly-parsed sexual identity, and the identification of new subcategories has become ridiculous, as illustrated by this journal article.”

Blake said that these newly founded sexual preferences (or lack thereof) may actually be a defense response to the over-emphasis of sexuality in modern culture. “[I]t should not surprise us that young women in particular seem eager to invent sexual identities that justify backing away from our toxic sexual culture.”

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He said creating new “sexual identities” advances the idea that sexuality is the basis for identity. Terms like “greysexuality” “only reinforces the fundamental assumption of that culture, which is that our sexual desires define us,” Blake said.

The authors of the paper wrote that “asexual” individuals experience “minority stress and stigma” and “have a higher prevalence of anxiety, depression and other mood disorders than people of other sexualities.”

They do not comment on whether the mental health conditions might be a cause of the low sexual interest, instead of the other way around.

The paper cited for the claim of higher rates of mental health problems also shows different, but not large, responses to a question about “suicidality.”

“Our finding of potentially increased suicidality among asexual individuals is novel and interesting,” the 2013 paper stated. The small research sample (just 44 individuals who identify as asexual) had similar rates of suicidality as non-heterosexual and heterosexual participants.

With 89 percent of asexual respondents saying they thought of killing themselves “not at all” or only “slightly.” In comparison, 92 percent of non-heterosexual participants picked either answer.

The authors of the greysexuality paper urged healthcare providers to be “inclusive” with their language.

“Providers can use inclusive, affirming language” the scholars wrote.

They can also “connect patients to asexual communities; ensure approaches are asexual-specific rather than generalized to the entire LGBTQIA2S+ community” and “include asexual-friendly options on forms and questionnaires; and educate themselves on asexuality.”

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IMAGE: Andrii Lysenko/Getty Images

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About the Author
Anna Wascovich -- Franciscan University of Steubenville