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Ace in the UK Report: In Conversation with Yasmin Benoit

Ace in the UK Report

Our Editor, Charlotte Dignam, sat down with activist Yasmin Benoit to discuss her role as an asexual advocate and the Ace in the UK Report she launched in collaboration with Stonewall.

Inspirations and Motivations

Opening the discussion, Yasmin explained how becoming an activist was not something she had planned. Rather, she noticed that there was a lack of black asexual representation; given her substantial following on social media obtained through modelling, she took it upon herself to start using her platform to advocate for the asexual community. Shortly after, people began engaging with Yasmin online and turning to her for information. 

After finishing her master’s degree at University College London (UCL), Yasmin was able to dedicate more time to her online activism and continues to seek to make a positive impact by steering conversations and influencing perceptions of asexuality. One major motivational factor for Yasmin is knowing that through using social media, she can make a difference to lots of people and make her younger self feel proud.

“I was always waiting for someone to do something about that. I thought, well, couldn’t I just do that? I’m already here. I already have a platform. Like, why don’t I just say something and see what happens?”

Yasmin Benoit

Ace Representations in the Media

Regarding the ways that asexual people are presented in the media, Yasmin personally feels that representations are unsatisfactory; not only is there a lack of it but depictions often come in the form of a person who still experiences romantic attraction and seeks relationships. Yasmin asserts that this is often followed by statements of “but don’t worry I still date” as if not doing this would be a bad thing.

Moreover, Yasmin notes how representations of LGBTQIA+ groups are dominated by white people. “It’s not just specifically an asexual thing, it’s symptomatic of our society in terms of who do people want to listen to – who is the most approachable or relatable to an audience that is probably going to be white” she states.

Linking back to her motivations as an activist, Yasmin contends that bringing something different to the table is therefore what she seeks to do.

Discussing the responses Yasmin gets online to her posts, she argues it’s “a very mixed bag” as on the one hand there are people who are grateful to have someone advocating for them and she gets to collaborate with people and organisations, speak at universities and attend events but on the other, she faces backlash for her work on platforms such as X.

The Ace Report

The Ace Report

In October 2023, Yasmin launched the Ace in the UK Report in collaboration with Stonewall. This report aims to build a better picture of ace communities’ experiences, needs, and priorities for change. It highlighted for the first time the discrimination asexual people face and the need for better legal and policy protections.

The report’s recommendations include ensuring that asexual people are protected under the Equality Act’s guidance and that ace people’s needs are included in wider LGBTQ+ specific training for healthcare providers. Yasmin notes that the healthcare findings are some of the most important aspects of the report; pointing to the way asexual women are particularly treated by gynaecologists and mental health services, she notes that ace people face conversion therapy too as asexuality is presented as something to be cured.

Discussing engagement with the healthcare sector, Yasmin explains how she has worked with the NHS for a few years and plans to speak with more of the Royal Colleges soon to make a positive difference. “It’s been great having so much interest from healthcare professionals because even if you can’t change what’s written in the books or training, you can still reach them in other ways for sure” she says.

The report also states that ace people make up between 1-2% of the general population but their experiences are not well understood by the public. Yasmin touches on this, asserting that the report enables information on asexuality to be more accessible and therefore increase general awareness but also influence policy implementation. She states that those within the wider LGBTQIA+ community have been interested in the report and she has received positive feedback online.

Discussing working with Stonewall, Yasmin notes that the report is step one in the project as they cannot start campaigning without providing information on why. She explained that her childhood self would feel proud for being able to work with an “iconic organisation”.

Next Steps

Regarding her next steps, Yasmin says that distributing the Ace in the UK Report is currently her priority as she is focused on raising awareness where she can. Following this, she will be working on projects for International Asexuality Day in April and she will be attending the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in March as a delegate.

A future aspiration of Yasmin’s may also be to write a book as she states that four publishing companies have approached her. However, Yasmin notes that it is hard to establish future aspirations due to the unique nature of her work. “there’s absolutely no blueprint” she asserts.

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