1.7% of sexual minority adults identify as asexual

For Immediate Release
August 8, 2019

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Rachel Dowd
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Findings from the first representative sample of U.S. sexual minority adults estimating the prevalence of asexual identity.

An estimated 1.7% of sexual minority adults identify as asexual, according to a recent study by the Williams Institute. The study also found that asexuals are more likely to be women or gender non-binary, assigned female at birth, and younger, compared to non-asexual lesbians, gay men, and bisexual (LGB) adults.

Asexual people reported significantly less sexual activity than non-asexual participants. Yet asexual adults were as likely to report being in an intimate relationship as non-asexual LGB adults.

“Asexuality is an emerging identity,” said lead author Esther D. Rothblum, a visiting distinguished scholar at the Williams Institute. “Given that the majority of asexual respondents were young, we expect that the prevalence and understanding of asexuality will grow as more youth reach adolescence and become familiar with the identity.”

FINDINGS

  • More than one-quarter (27%) of asexuals identify as women and three-quarters (72%) identify as genderqueer/non-binary.
  • An overwhelming majority of asexuals were assigned female at birth (86%), compared with 14% who were assigned male at birth.
  • 91% of asexuals are in the younger cohort (ages 18-27), compared to 61% of non-asexual LGB people.
  • Asexuality is not synonymous with a lack of sexual attraction, sexual behavior, or intimate relationships. A little more than a third of asexuals reported being sexually attracted; more than half of them reported having had sex; and they were as likely to report that they were in a romantic intimate relationship (59% compared with 61% of non-asexual LGB people).
  • Asexuals felt similar social support, well-being, life satisfaction and connection with the LGBT community as non-asexual LGB people.
  • Asexuals reported more everyday discrimination and stigma than non-asexual LGB people.

“We see in these results that asexuals are an integral part of the LGBT community,” said study author Ilan H. Meyer, Distinguished Senior Scholar of Public Policy at the Williams Institute. “It is important to note, however, that this study only included asexuals who also identify as LGB, so the results are pertinent to a segment of the total asexual population. We have more to learn about asexual heterosexuals.”

ABOUT THE STUDY

The report, “Asexual and Non-Asexual Respondents from a U.S. Population-Based Study of Sexual Minorities” appears in Archives of Sexual Behavior and is co-authored by Esther D. Rothblum, Ph.D., Professor of Women’s Studies at San Diego State University, Evan A. Krueger, MPH, Research Coordinator at the Williams Institute, Krystal R. Kittle, Project Coordinator at the Williams Institute, and Ilan H. Meyer, Ph.D., Distinguished Senior Public Policy Scholar at the Williams Institute.

Research reported in this report is part of the Generations study, supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) of the National Institutes of Health, under award number R01HD078526. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. The Generations investigators are Ilan H. Meyer, Ph.D., (PI, UCLA); David M. Frost, Ph.D., (University College London); Phillip L. Hammack, Ph.D., (UCSC); Marguerita Lightfoot, Ph.D., (UCSF); Stephen T. Russell, Ph.D. (University of Texas, Austin) and Bianca D.M. Wilson, Ph.D., (UCLA) Co-Investigators are listed alphabetically.

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