Cisfemale. Tomboy. Asexual. AUTHENTIC.

Megumi Ai comes across as someone who seems to have given quite a bit of thought to her sexuality and gender. What amazes me, is that she has allowed herself to be vulnerable, and as a result, boldly self-aware, at the age of 19.

#DontAssumebutAccept

Megumi prefers to identify herself as a Cisfemale. It caught my attention that she also describes herself as a tomboy. When I asked her about it, she had this to say:

Most people define tomboy as a girl who exhibits behaviors that are associated with males. It does not mean they display solely masculine traits. People seem to be shocked the second a tomboy displays traits associated with girls.
The weird thing about masculinity and femininity is that the ideas behind them are different in each culture, vary with time, and are usually dictated by media. An example of this is the colors pink and blue. Back in the day, those colors were switched around — pink for guys and blue for girls.
Girls are expected to like pink, be emotional, worry about clothes, jewelry, and make-up, and to let men be in charge and take care of the “important stuff”, while they work on being nurturing, etc.
Guys, on the other hand, are expected to be rational, good at the sciences, make the money, be strong, independent, and leaders in many aspects.
As for me I just happen to exhibit more so-called masculine traits. This also re-enforced those people’s idea, who think/thought of me as a lesbian. I’m rational, excel in academics more than most, especially in Science and Math, not emotional, a leader, and independent. But then again, pink is my favorite color, I sew cosplay, and am seen as a mother/older sister figure at times to certain others. I usually wear sweatpants, t-shirts, hoodies, and normal jeans. I do have “nicer” girl clothes, mostly due to my mother, but I rarely wear them.
From a comic by A. Stiffler at Chaos Life.
My natural body language is more masculine, so natural poses end up being like how men sit with their legs open and lean on them. In my senior photo session, while I could do some of those more feminine poses the photographer wanted, when I just relaxed normally he was able to get a better photo, and that had a more masculine pose. I’m not androgynous because I am not split down the middle nor genderfluid. I say that because it’s not like I’m constantly changing between my levels of femininity and masculinity. I don’t believe I’m 100% male so I’m not transgender. Therefore I like the term tomboy, because I’m a mix of both but have majority of masculine traits.

Apart from family members, Megumi has a close friendship with LP (name withheld for privacy reasons). Trust and friendship feature prominently in the path to getting to know her better. She reckons that her equation with LP might be her most ‘intimate’ connection till date: especially on the emotional realm.

Physically, the closest they have ever been is a hug, which they do whenever they meet. They are also comfortable sitting close to each other, and there is ‘usually, no space between them’.

Megumi and LP have long talks about their lives and discuss their emotions at length. They also have plenty of interests in common. But what cements their bond, at least for Megumi, is that LP got her out of a really dark phase in life. Megumi even goes on to say:

I don’t think I would still be around today, if I hadn’t met LP. She reminds me that sometimes it’s okay to not always be strong and fight by myself.

LP seems like someone with a good sense of humour, and lightens up the conversation whenever Megumi gets a little too serious for her own good.

How would you describe your sexuality?

To people in the LGBT community, I’ll say I’m “ace/aro”. As for outside of that community, I just say I’m asexual or not interested in that kind of that thing; depends on who I’m talking to.

A lot of folks generally describe asexuals as “those who do not experience sexual attraction”. That bodes well with Megumi. She attests to having felt similar to how many other asexuals might traditionally feel during their adolescence: that of being ‘outed’, because…

everyone and everything around you is exaggerating the idea of, and want for sex. Even those with low sex drives are focused on figuring out whether they are straight or not, more than anything else. You feel outed because everything around you sends out the message that it’s so important to your personal identity, and so “great”, but you simply don’t get it, even though it feels like something that “shoulda naturally clicked” a while ago.

Megumi thinks that it is important to give your sexuality some deep thought. It helped her find herself, and her place in the larger scheme of things. “With the current ways of the society, and its tendency to label and set expectations from people, it might even help you understand why you always felt like an outsider,” she suggests. The process has helped her accept herself for the better. Being familiar with the terminology also comes in handy when she’s trying to explain herself and her interest in another person.

Megumi realized that she was an asexual before she knew what the term meant. In fifth grade, it seemed like every girl around her was jelly in the knees about the Jonas Brothers. It wasn’t uncommon to hear someone comment along the lines of “Joe Jonas is so hot! I’d wanna date him,” and have several others agree enthusiastically.

Megumi remembers not ‘understanding it’, and just playing along to fit in. Then came the Twilight Saga and Fang in the Maximum Ride novels. When similar topics came up during High School, she would only speak when asked about it directly, while the rest of her peers went on about the topic.

When others asked: Do you find <insert celebrity name> hot?

Megumi: I don’t.

When others asked: Name a celebrity you find hot.

Megumi: Oh, I don’t know…

When others asked: Whom do you have a crush on?

Megumi: This guy from my grade school who I am friends with. He doesn’t go to our high school though.

She was often labeled a ‘lesbian’, and would protest it. She knew that she wasn’t one. But she only figured out that she could call herself an ‘asexual’, when she got to college. A guy asked her out, and it was the first time that had happened to Megumi. When she turned him down saying that she wasn’t interested in men, he asked her if she was interested in women then. “Not really,” she ventured. “You might be asexual then,” he suggested. After some research and lots of reflection, Megumi decided that yes, she was an asexual. A month or two later, she decidedly identified herself with aromanticism as well.

It’s who I am!

The days that followed were hard for Megumi. But her friend LP gave her the courage to accept herself for who she felt she really was. “It doesn’t change who you are. You’ve always been like that,” said LP. A lot of people around her at the University still seemed to think that she might be repressing her homosexual tendencies, but Megumi’s a lot more confident about herself. “I now won’t be persuaded by their opinions,” she declares.

Sexuality is often better understood as a personality spectrum. ‘Sexual’ and ‘Asexual’ are the two end-points of the spectrum, with a lot of grey area falling in-between.

There are people who are on the asexual spectrum and call themselves greysexual and demisexual, and they rarely experience sexual attraction. There is also the romantic spectrum that you have to consider for asexuals. It ranges from none, to both, to all, just like the sexual spectrum. I identify as aromantic, which means I do not experience romantic attraction to anybody.

While struggling to figure out and come to terms with her sexual identity, Megumi went through a rough patch. Her self-esteem was pretty bad in high school, as she couldn’t participate in a lot of the ‘girl talk’ that seemed to be going around. Dating and sex only became more prevalent as time passed, and even the people who were quieter about such stuff seemed to have something to say about it. She felt socially awkward, and was depressed during the time. “I thought that the only reason why anybody talked to me was for homework help,” she says about her time in high school.

Once she identified herself as ace/aro, the shift in her sense of self and mental well-being was slow but sure.

Things that happened to me throughout high school led to me feeling like ‘being broken’ in a sense. It led me to not care about what others thought of me, especially if I barely knew them. Eventually, I decided that it really didn’t matter.

Megumi is doing much better now, even though sometimes she feels uncomfortable around random people — but that’s part of process, eh?

She now describes herself as someone who is smart, confident, determined, stubborn. She likes Computers, Math, Video Games, and Music. But sometimes, for when things aren’t all sunshine and rainbows, Megumi has figured out a pick-me-up ritual for herself. She will usually talk to herself in third-person, asking herself things like, “why does it matter what they think?

You’re you! Don’t be fake like many others. Don’t force yourself to fit the mold that others have placed for you! You’d rather have a few people who love you for you, than a ton who don’t actually love you at all!” she’ll remind herself.

You are filled with DETERMINATION

— this is a quote from the video game, Undertale. Megumi likes to use and live by it, whenever she gets distraught or tired of not fitting in.

Advice for someone who’s just discovering their sexuality

It’s a process, and kinda like solving a problem. You will struggle and sometimes get it wrong, but eventually you will find a solution.

Advice for someone who is exploring their identity as an asexual

If crushes in the past are what that’s holding you back from figuring it out, just remember this: you can always figure out your romantic attraction at a later time! That’s primarily what held me back from saying I was asexual, until I realized those “crushes” were just fabrications by my mind to help me feel like I was fitting in.
Also, defy expectations. Our sex-focused society expects that you must be sexual in some way. Don’t let those pressures get to you! Show them it’s okay to be focused and dedicated to other things instead of just that!

Megumi is from the United States of America, where she studies Computer Science and Mathematics.

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ASexual Self is a series of stories about asexuals, mostly in their own words. Join in the conversation by sharing these posts and the publication itself with your friends, family, and anybody who you think might be struggling to figure out their sexual identity. You can also leave a comment, highlight parts of the story that make you pause and think, or show us some old-school ❤.

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