by Katie Munday
Gender expression and identity has often been considered as binary–either masculine or feminine–but most of us fall somewhere along or outside of the spectrum of gender characteristics. Diverse gender identities appear to be more prevalent in autistic individuals than neurotypical people. Unfortunately, most of the academic work on this intersection is less than complimentary, posing neuro- and gender diversity as ‘abnormal’. Fortunately, there is growing work in print and online by autistic trans activists which champions these identities as an important part of human diversity.
Autistic people often have a very strong self-understanding and self-knowledge, despite living in a world which does not cater to their diverse behaviours, emotions, and perceptions. These differences in social understanding and cognition may permit autists to understand gender in all its multiplicities, allowing them to dress and interact with others in ways which fit their own individual needs and interests. Furthermore, working outside of societal expectations allows autistic people to experience and express gender identities in a wholly individualistic manner.
Sharing these unique and insightful experiences within and without LGBTQ+ and autistic communities can help us all become more critically conscious, allowing us to challenge ableism and cis-genderism, creating a world which is more richly diverse and accepting.
Further reading (by autistic trans / gender diverse writers):
- Uncomfortable Labels: My Life as a Gay Autistic Trans Woman by Laura Kate Dale
- Trans and Autistic: Stories from Life at the Intersection by Noah Adams and Bridget Liang
- Spectrums: Autistic Transgender People in Their Own Words edited by Maxfield Sparrow
Note: There is a growing amount of information available online and in print about prevalence rates, support, and personal experiences. Some of these works may use ableist and transphobic language and understandings and often do not have content warnings, please always practice self-care whilst reading.