Academics, therapists and sexuality educators call for inclusion of asexuality in the UK 2021 census
Recently, the Office of National Statistics held a consultation with LGBTQ activists, academics and therapists on the proposed addition of a sexual identity question in the 2021 UK census, at which it was argued that asexuality should be included as a sexual identity. Now, a group of sexuality researchers and educators have released an open letter supporting the inclusion of asexuality in the census.
To whom it may concern,
We, as social scientists, therapists and educators, all involved in sexuality and gender research, are writing to support the inclusion of asexuality in any question concerning sexual identity in the 2021 UK census.
Asexuality is a sexual orientation characterised by a lack of sexual attraction to people of any gender. Despite being a potentially widespread and prevalent phenomenon, asexuality has suffered from a lack of visibility and awareness, partly due to a lack of data. The best known figure at present suggests that around one percent of the population is asexual. 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.
Despite the low visibility, asexuality has made enormous strides in recent years and is now an accepted term in popular culture. The BBC, the Guardian, and the Times, among others, have all published articles featuring asexuality, and other articles featuring asexuality around the world are appearing in the mainstream media. Many campus groups up and down the UK and beyond include asexuality in their Pride awareness campaigns, and, as of 2012, the National Union of Students LGBT+ campaign includes asexuality. The best known asexual online community and forum - the Asexual Visibility and Education Network, founded in 2001 - boasts over 100,000 members worldwide.
Researchers are increasingly responding to a need to investigate asexual identity-formations, and an increasing amount of professionals already include results of this research into their work. We have benefited from the demographic data which is available, but, as noted above, that data is limited in its scope. Indeed, most policy and other decisions relating to asexuality are made on the basis of the small amount of data and studies available.
As researchers and policymakers, we need good data to understand the special needs, if any, that asexual people have. There is evidence that asexuality might be more likely to be represented among individuals on the autism spectrum, and/or experiencing Asperger's disorder, for example, and data showing that asexuals face discrimination and stigma. There are also conflicting data showing a relationship between asexuality and gender dysphoria, and possibly higher rates of depression than in the non-asexual population. More good data would allow us to investigate and formulate policy around everyday problems that asexual people may face - or even to conclude that no changes are needed, if that is indeed the case.
No study of this size has ever before been attempted on a national scale. We believe that having data on this scale would, as noted above, be invaluable for research and policy purposes. In addition, this undertaking would undoubtedly make the UK a world leader in contributing to the understanding of this phenomenon and furthering our understanding of diversity.
We believe that including asexuality in any question on sexual identity on the census would not only validate the experience of asexual people and challenge the social assumption that all humans experience sexual attraction, but would also offer researchers an invaluable opportunity to gain further insights into this sexual identity. For this reason, and the reasons noted above, we therefore support, and request, the inclusion of asexuality in any question concerning sexual identity in the 2021 UK census.
 Prause & Graham 2007; Bogaert 2015  Wellings et al. (NATSAL) 1994; Bogaert, 2004
Meg-John Barker, PhD Senior Lecturer in Psychology, The Open University
Anthony Bogaert, PhD Professor of Applied Health Sciences Brock University
Lori Brotto, PhD Professor in the Faculty of Medicine, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology The University of British Columbia Executive Director, Women's Health Research Institute and Canada Research Chair in Women's Sexual Health
Stephen Broughton Research Assistant Oxford Brookes University
Gavin Brown, PhD Associate Professor in Human Geography Department of Geography, University of Leicester,
Professor Katherine Browne Professor of Human Geography University of Brighton
Mark Carrigan, PhD Research fellow, Department of Sociology University of Warwick
Olivier Cormier-Otaño MBACP (Accred) - AASDT Integrative Counsellor and Psychosexual Therapist
Karen Cuthbert, MA MRes Doctoral Researcher Sociology University of Glasgow
Dominic Davies Chief Executive - Pink Therapy
Matt Dawson, PhD Lecturer in Sociology University of Glasgow.
Joseph DeLappe Doctoral Candidate Faculty of Education and Language Studies The Open University
Eunjung Kim, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Women's and Gender Studies Syracuse University
Caroline McClave MA Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences, Columbia University
Liz McDonnell Dept. of Sociology Sussex University
Nick McGlynn, PhD Research Fellow, University of Brighton.
Nina Nouripanah Doctoral Student (DPsych Existential Phenomenological Counselling Psychology) Regent's University London
Karen Pollock, Bsc MBACP Counsellor specialising in LGBTQUAI clients and Director of Trans Pride North. Counselling in Northumberland
Katharine Rimes, PhD Senior Lecturer & Honorary Consultant Clinical Psychologist Dept of Psychology, Henry Wellcome Building Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience King's College London
Sam Rosen PhD researcher in Applied Linguistics University of Nottingham
Joanna Russell, MSc (Advanced Practice) MBACP(Accred) Accredited Sexual Diversity Therapist (Pink Therapy)
Liam Timmins, BA, MSc PhD Candidate. Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King's College London
Jasper Williams National Union of Students, Wales LGBT+ Officer and sexuality educator
Morag Yule, PhD Dept of Clinical Psychology University of British Columbia
If you are a sexuality researcher, educator or therapist and could like to add your name to the open letter, please contact the AVEN Project Team (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we will put you in touch. For more information, visit www.asexuality.org, www.asexualawarenessweek.com or write to email@example.com for general information and media requests.