The Autistic Ways of Gender

Looking into the autism spectrum has
given us more insight into how we humans think and how our brains are wired
differently. We have various ways of thinking that can be perceived as are
to Neurotypicals. Looking into gender identity is no
different, as various autistics prefer not to follow traditional gender labels.
Recent studies have shown that there are be more cases of autistic people to be a
specific gender that differs from their biological sex.
This documentary asks “could there be a connection between the two?”. Do people
believe autistics aren’t capable of choosing their own identity? This may be
a pretty controversial question, but to this day
autistics are still fighting for the rights to be heard. Autism, or recently named
the Autistic Spectrum Disorder is a neurological condition that has affected
the mind of one person, in which is often seen as a disability. Each person’s
behaviour can change day to day, but to make things easier we will use these
generalized labels for examples. “High-Functioning” also described as Asperger’s
Syndrome are autistic people that can function day to day lives, but may need
additional assistance in order to function day to day activities. Their
socialising skills may differ compared to neurotypicals, and some can lead
independent lives. “Low Functioning” or “Classic Autism” are those who need more
care. They are less likely to function independently and struggle with
instructions. their mentality is usually perceived as much younger than their age
as a grow. Some cases of autism are non-verbal, and that they are unable to, or choose not to use verbal communication. Various people in the spectrum can be
both so using these terms isn’t as ideal for everybody.
Gender Identity is the gender to which you identify, as opposed to the
biological sex to which a person is born. these include Male/Female, Non-Binary or
Genderqueer or Gender fluid gender is seen what you identify as regardless of
biology. You tend to feel what gender you are. Gender Dysphoria is the feeling of
the stress regarding the disparity between a person’s gender and sex. So
what has this got to do with Autism? Some studies have shown that Autism and
Transgender have connections, but there was little evidence to back up. So. Who am I? I am Rachel and I’m also Autistic. I identify as cisgender. However, I am
currently in the self-discovery phase this past year or so. I feel that I don’t
conform to the female ideals. I also feel strong with both of these topics and I
feel that it hasn’t been properly explored as of yet. the first question is
do you think there is a connection to Autism and Gender Identity? Absolutely! Yeah definitely. I do think there’s is, but I’m not sure what kind. Yes, I do think there is a connection between the two. Obviously this is a very non scientific opinion but I think it’s very much related to
how accepting we are of ourselves and the difference in other people. In a way, yeah I think that being autistic means -can mean that a lot of us are
less directly influenced by social constructs, and I think a lot of gender
is a social construct so I think we are more likely to be true to our internal
sort of sense of gender identity. I think there is one for me because if any part of the reason I
don’t identify with either of the binary genders is because they don’t really
understand what gender is it’s kind of like you know you’re
supposed to be these things if you’re a woman and these things when
you’re a man. Neither of them make sense to me. you know I’m not sure if there’s like a direct correlation or
anything but I do notice that there are a lot of non-binary and trans people on
Twitter especially I find that are autistic as well, so that’s really
interesting to see. I think it’s pretty clear that there is some kind of
connection. It’s less clear what the connection might be? Anecdotally I think
there is very clearly a link between gender identity and autism just from the
number of people I know who are gender fluid, gender queer, trans. Very common. I think there is, partly. And that is probably the notion of Neurodiversity. So, being different I suppose in how
you think about things I think that applies to every part of you including
any kind of gender identity that you would have. So where do we begin? What
evidence is there so far? Despite growing cases of transgender artists individuals
the study of gender identity and autism combined have been minimal. Judith Butler
for example another whose written books such as “Gender Trouble” thinks that
gender is a performance and that drag culture and performance blurs the lines of gender. An ambiguous identity could lead into more of a progressive society.
Gender Identity hasn’t received as much attention until recently, as exposure on
the Internet has helped to give this topic a voice. The Internet has been
quite a good influence in that it’s allowed a lot of people to talk about
how they experience their gender identity, and it amplifies the number of
voices that were able to hear and I think it gives people an opportunity to
experiment, talk to like-minded people more easily. I think generally it’s been
a really good thing I think it’s been an explosion of knowledge. As much as
autistic people have kind of exploded information onto the internet and we’re
reaching places you’ve never reached before I think in terms of gender I
think it’s really opened up a lot of people’s eyes. I probably wouldn’t
realize that non-binary was even a thing I wouldn’t even like fully understand
myself if the internet wasn’t around. you know and there’s certainly people
that I can connect with. I think definitely like, more people have access to it. It depends on where you’re from. So, I’m from Croatia my language doesn’t even have words for
Non-Binary. it doesn’t have pronouns for non-binary people I can’t say anything
in Croatian without gendering myself one way or the other, and so like most of the
information I found on genders outside of literally cis-man or cis-woman has
been online and it’s where a lot of my communities are at, and also alot of
my little autistic communities are at. Alot of these questions that people are searching for
going to the Internet are questions that their parents probably or the people in
their lives can’t answer for them. People are out there sharing and kind of
explaining things people who are you know out there looking and seeking for
help can find some help I can find some answers, and you know sometimes just
having that solidarity and your tribe and just knowing that someone else has
gone through something you’re going through can be very helpful or
life-changing or life-saving for someone then it can be dangerous too because
it’s not always safe. The Internet can be a really nasty place, and it can be a
really ugly place you have to know how to protect yourself just the ugliness
that just comes from the Internet in general. While exposure can be seen as positive thing for awareness. It can also generate
a lot of discourse for opposing sides. websites like Tumblr, while great for
promoting Gender Identity can reveal a lot of misleading information that can
be damaging for the community. There are also opposing sides that believe Gender
Identity is nothing more than a mental illness.
Even though being transgender is no longer being labeled as such in 2018. The
opposing sides still believe that gender is delusional. Such as the
bathroom bill controversy in America These people use examples such as
comparing Transgender as choosing your age, or that they are a threat to the
heteronormative society by being misleading. TERFS (Trans Exclusionary
Radical Feminists) have a similar issue in which they believe that a trans woman is
just a disguise so that men can have their rights. Recently, I gained the
opportunity to interview a well-known autistic advocate Jeanette Purkis, who
has recently come out as Non-Binary I thought this was the perfect opportunity
to interview them, and wanted to know their opinions while additionally
and covering the struggles with someone who has to put up with internet trolls and
malicious comments daily. oh actually tonight
I was feeling my mood has been all over the place and
I was feeling really low and I said I better go do some work that always
cheers me up something so I will check my email see what’s that, and this is one
comment on my email for my youtube clip that I put up today about coming
out I put up this I’ve been doing a few different video diaries and I put up one
today about misgendering and using pronouns and stuff it’s not me being
judgey and saying everyone has to use my preferred pronouns I didn’t yell at them
it wasn’t that at all it was a much more important thing and I had this one
comment that said “F*** your gender” and I thought yeah that’s not
cool so I deleted that and I blocked the user and then I put it on Facebook just
before you contacted and then I had another and I had all these
notifications I’m like oh god what’s going on here I thought it looks like I
don’t know but it looks like I sort of conserted trolling effort by a bunch
of bigots saying let’s be horrible to Jeanette. The problem is, not for me I
hate trolls and I get really angry with trolls I’ve had a few actually lately
it’s been really poor, but these ones I just think the worst thing is if someone
goes onto my page and sees that video and they’re looking at it as a really
positive empowering thing and then there’s all this hate there. I can’t leave
that there that’s not fair on other people and I think I just really can’t
stand trolls. I don’t get why… There’s a lot more knowledge out there I think
the internet is great for getting people connected and for getting people to meet
one another, but the good thing about that is that you can sort of join your
community and it’s much clearer especially I mean when I was a kid, I’m
43. When I was a kid, gender options were basically binary opposites Male and
Female, and a few people were Trans, but that was really people didn’t know about
that in the mainstream and then it was sexuality, and people got sexuality and
gender as sadly they still do very conflated and they thought that you know
gender and sexuality were the same thing which of course they’re not and with
sexuality there were three options there was Straight, Gay and Bi.
and that was it so there just wasn’t a lot of knowledge and understanding was
now there is and you meet young kids even these days who identify as
Non-Binary or Trans and that’s fantastic. At this current time.There is a constant
ongoing discourse on Gender and Autism but we still see them as separate
subjects. Thankfully there are growing examples of the increasing awareness
surrounding Autism and Gender Identity but this research could be expanded upon. People with different genders need to be given more of a platform. They need to be
given the ability to speak, they need to be shouted from the rooftops basically
because they’re such an important part of autistic culture and autistic people. I know that there’s studies that focus on the gender identity of autism and such. But, when it’s studies to do with Autism in general. It always… if it speaks about gender, it’s always binary. I know that a lot of
Autistic Trans people find it very difficult to be taken seriously. I have
not had any personal experiences there but I know that people who have – who
want to transition can find it very difficult because they’re autistic. I
think that by and large we just need to have this conversation about gender more
in society in general because service providers and support workers may not
have had the gender conversation even if they know about autism. I’m starting to
see like with the autistic women’s network they’ve recently just this month
actually in July changed their name to include Non-Binary people and on their
site they say that this will ensure that Non-Binary and Trans people both feel
comfortable to join the network and use their services etc etc, and that’s
great to see. You know I think that that’s great that the differing criteria
that how autism can present differently is being seen but what I’d like to see
more is a shift that men can present that way as well trans people non-binary
people. Just seeing part of like a part of this is to other women. Autistic Women’s Australia. Sorry sort of Autistic Women’s Australia. and we have fantastic
discussions on there and it’s a really inclusive group of women which it’s
regardless of your gender identity if you fall is to category and self
identify as a woman you can join this group and then all of a sudden you have people
ask questions again about gender identity and it’ll it starts just sort
of become unclear, and people start to self define and start saying they
need to have at a territory where gender non binary is this hugely
important identity. But I don’t relate to it personally because I don’t
understand why being a woman or being female has to be a preconceived notion. What are your experiences or journeys when it comes to discovering your
identity? That’s a bit of a big one! Yeah! *laughs* Yeah, I was always interested in gender differences. When I was growing up
it was when Boy George was in the charts. and somehow I wouldn’t have really
describe myself as a tomboy because I can’t stand Science Fiction, I can’t
stand sport, I’m not really interested in boys stuff at all, but I’m not really
interested in typical girl stuff either. (Yep) I am somewhere in the middle. I
didn’t come out as a non-binary until a couple of years ago. It’s really when
I was you know researching autism stuff that I read about autism and gender, and I
read that a lot of autistic women are somewhere between the genders and I thought “oh yes
that’s me!”. For ages, when I was a kid and a teen and such, I thought I was just
rubbish at being a girl. I didn’t even feel like a tomboy. My body felt weird a
lot of the time until I got to the point where I kind of accepted that I’m not
actually one thing or the other. I think for like, a really long time. I just said I was like a tomboy. Because again when I’m from, we don’t really have the concept of Non-Binary at all. And then like even when I learned that Non-Binary is a thing, I think for a long while like it’s one of those things where like
“oh, I couldn’t be that” because again I’m not this about the other thing, and
almost like feeling like I’m not allowed to be a that thing. And I remember be like
really anxious to come out to any of my friends. Even my friends who were
trans or non-binary and then actually because most of my friends are really queer but a lot more easily yeah I don’t know like there was a very long time of
being like “is this non-binary gender feelings there is this internalized
misogyny?”. Like am I actually feeling like I am Non-Binary, or am I just working
off of a concept of what being a woman means. Well, when I was younger. I really
liked a lot of things that boys liked as far as I mean all the way up until say
late middle school really I was mostly hanging out with a lot of boys I just
felt more comfortable. Generally before then a lot of my female friends were
very toxic and and so it was very is very interesting to sort of look back
and be sort of confused as far as friendships go, but then that sort of
carries over into my identity as well. Just sort of feeling more toward the
masculine side but then being unsure. You know girls around me that I just didn’t
feel like I related to and I was really confused but then sort of had my moments
of femininity. My senior year I was in a musical and I played a male character
and it’s funny it wasn’t until I really looked back at that that it was
like “ah, now I understand why it felt so good!” I didn’t like
want to necessarily be a boy it’s it’s like this fluid thing I don’t feel like
I’m a boy, I don’t feel like I’m a girl you know so then I went to Japan and I
discovered “Takarazuka” that all all-female cast that performs as men and
women on stage and that was really eye-opening, and then recently I realized
that you know you don’t have to choose one side of the other you don’t have to
feel like you’re one side or the other, or anything in between
or you know whatever and so I’ve realized that I’m non-binary, very gender
fluid and that I fluctuate. Yeah When I was in high school actually, and
when I hit puberty I actually was wearing like boys
clothing a lot it’s a school I would wear the bigger baggy pants I wear the
men’s like muscle shirts and I dressed in a more masculine way for a really
long time, and it’s just interesting because there’s been that like change
and transformation to my life and just even now the way I feel about you know
my own gender identity I’m just like I don’t really feel that I need to conform
it to what anyone thinks it should be I guess and I’ve gotten more confidence
than that cause some days I may just feel more mad
you know like I just don’t want to be girly today I don’t feel girly you know
and then I just not gonna dress that way or I’m not gonna put all the makeup I
just you know and it’s kind of fluid and I just seem very accepting I guess is
that now I’m like it’s nobody’s business how I feel. Well I was raised a feminist I suppose. in terms of being in touch with the notion
of gender, because my mum and dad split when I was really young. My dad came out
as gay. My mum worked in a women’s refuge after a while, well she worked in a Theatre company first, you know, and so as kids after school in if I was sick we
were hanging out in a theatre company and my mum made costumes and costumes for
people, so theatre companies are full of like gay guys and lesbians and
non-traditional performing people so there was never, it was just something
that was ever questioned no it just was just so everybody was always different
and it was all sorts of bodies and all sorts of races and all sorts of expressions
of gender and I never really had a sense of needing to be traditional in any
gender sense. I was absolutely a tomboy from when I was really little, and so that never seemed less female to me. My sister is a total princess.
Complete princess, and I always thought she was weird but I never, it’s never she was
more of a girl than I was a girl I just wasn’t at all interested in the way that
she obviously used her feminine powers of influence
even from when she was quite young. Traits related to my autism played a
part in my marriage breaking down. About 10 years ago. So that kind of prompted me
to take it more seriously. Eventually I went and sought formal assessment. At
that time it sort of didn’t make that much difference to my life because I
had you know grown to understand that I was on the spectrum and I was already
been thinking a lot about autism for years because my mom works on it and
stuff. But then getting together with my partner Sonny, and then realizing after a
while that they’re autistic – which I sort of realized first prompted a lot of
reflection and soul-searching and like seeking to understand this and suddenly
I feel the whole kind of reframing process. The combination of that with
actively getting engaged with the autistic community and meeting more
autistic people and going to Autscape led to autism being a much bigger part
of my identity. Discovering that I’m autistic was a catalyst in many ways for
me in discovering other parts of my identity because it made me realize that
I was not really being myself in a lot of ways I was worrying too much about
what other people thought. I wanted to be a boy when I was very young and I really
didn’t want to develop into a girl I was it was a very very difficult time.
Eventually it got to a point where I realized that I didn’t really like what
society was saying about masculinity either. I was conforming to a lot of that I
was sort of hiding my emotions and saying no I’m too tough to cry and
refusing to wear anything that was even slightly girly even if it was like a
dress that would have been nice to wear in summer because it was hot. Kind of
discovering the idea of being non-binary was brilliant for me because it
describes my experience perfectly of not really feeling that either binary
option applied to me very well And I’ve always been at best
ambivalence about gender. A part of that is an active dislike of masculinity in
general. Most of the things associated with masculinity mess you up or they
mess up other people you know aggression competitiveness yeah trying to be
self-contained while sort of quietly relying on other people all the time.
Yeah I’ve never exactly identified as not male but I’ve never really
identified with anything about maleness. So I think recent years have not
profoundly changed the way that I think about my own gender but have made me to
at least kind of go out of my way to de-emphasize maleness really, and I was
pleased when Facebook implemented the ability to choose your preferred
pronouns and we can switch mine to “they”. another issue is in the validity of Autism and Gender. As society still believes in the stereotypes. Do we still believe that
autistics cannot think for themselves or do we only listen to advice because
they’re influenced or told? Autistics suffer gender dysphoria as much as
any neurotypical person, but what are the differences in their behavior and
attitudes towards the gender norms? We’re already at a disadvantage
there, but as soon as you put autism into the mix it gives I think it gives, like
parents and stuff more valid reason other than “oh, you’re just young” because
now they can go “oh, you’re just young and you’re autistic” so you know,
it might be nothing you might be being silly or whatever. But yeah, I’ve been I mean I’ve heard of
quite a lot of autistic people being turned away from gender clinics or
support regender. Basically because our our ideas are dismissed because we’re
autistic and therefore probably wrong which of course happens in all sorts of things. Autistic people can be viewed as
immature or just like Peter Pan and never growing up and naive, so people
might just think that we could never possibly know anything properly. yeah, and I was reading reading an article the other day about
some autistic kids are being given um they come out as trans in their teens and nobody’s really questioning them deeply about it and
they’re just putting them on puberty blockers but actually they really need proper
counselling and stuff (Aye!) before they go on anything that could harm their health or
anything that could be potentially an implication for the rest of their life. I think it goes back to what I’ve seen of trans experiences again you know because
you have a diagnosed “problem”. Everything is attributed to the supposed problem
rather than just being a thing that happens to be your identity. I find it really hard to make generalized statements about anything whether that’s
a gender question or an autistic question (yeah) I think it’s a very really
really diverse, actually diverse experience in diverse community. I think
it has it really lot to do with how your autism impacts on you as well.
I mean some of us I mean I’m obviously I’m very verbal and I have a lot of
Independence. I get to make the decisions about myself of my identity I think
there are a lot of people who have concurrent diagnosis. Words I’m getting all
wrong, but your other has concurrent diagnoses that impact them greatly and
so autism might be stability to kids how they think in their identity, but in
addition to that they have other barriers that mean I don’t have a lot of
Independence or saying all about their gender and those people especially are I
think definitely considered Asexual, but also not a person of status to actually
have their gender identity considered and that does not mean in any way that
they are not impacted just as severely as everybody else by stereotypes around
gender. There’s a lot written about autism as being you know autistic people
not being age appropriate or gender appropriate or socially appropriate, but
in most of these cases it’s like they’re not actually problems they’re culturally
defined, and I think you know that’s maybe the context to look at it in when
you say well actually what is age-appropriate you also start saying
well what’s gender appropriate. Talk about it. Both gender and autism are
flexible, and change is super scary but it can happen, and it doesn’t invalidate
any of the feelings or faults. It’s fine to be whatever identity you feel and
don’t let people say to you that because you’re autistic you you can’t be a
different gender so what you are born in. Your feelings are absolutely valid. I think it’s worth thinking about what societal expectations there are and
which ones are really worth bothering about, and by worth I mean is it a danger to your safety? And is it a crowd that you
want to be part of? But it’s worth experimenting with you know there’s no
reason to make yourself conform to things that make you uncomfortable when you don’t have to. I think the biggest thing that I wish other people had told me is that you’re allowed to experiment. You’re allowed to change your mind. If
you think a thing would make you more comfortable just go for it. Know that you are valid, no matter how you feel and you don’t have to have it all
figured out. So it’s all sort of a journey and it doesn’t have to all
happen at once and it probably won’t ever happen all at once it’s kind of a
lifelong journey to figure out sort of how you feel inside. You do
you, and you “be” you, and it’s okay if you don’t know who that is yet. By someone who knows somebody who’s transitioning or who’s questioning. Just remember they would really appreciate your support and your respect and that will
make a big difference it’s not that hard to do. Be true to yourself I think you need
to realise that all gender is per-formative.. Try and be yourself as best you can, and not
fear what other people think as best you can, but also to go and find out as much
about yourself and other people as well because it’s only through self-discovery
and it’s only through learning about other people with journeys that you
really truly learn about yourself. You’ve got to find your own path for all of
this and but you do that by help with other people. It can be helpful you know
to identify with a label but at the same time it’s more about who you are with
yourself and being honest with yourself and knowing what your experience is, and
even if you meet other people who fall within a label you identify with you may
have assumed they identify with those people so I think you know build on your
own identity, so you really you know have the confidence your own identity even
when it doesn’t match everyone else who’s you know any labels you identify
with, but you feel strong enough in who you are as a person. as all of this information comes full circle. I have now learned more on the issues surrounding
Gender Identity and Autism. From looking into what research has been proposed to
the experiences from autistic people. Autistic people in gender studies have
given me more insight on Gender Identity can promote more Neurodiversity.
Like Neurotypicals, we have different ways of thinking, but we suffer similar issues
in our day-to-day lives such as exploring our identities. Looking into
Autism and Gender Identity can be a challenge. I believe that investigating to uncover
to more awareness into Neurodiversity. People with different mindsets should be
listened when it comes to discovering their Gender Identity. The final question
is, “do I believe there is a connection between Autism and Gender?” I do think there are some connections particularly neurological. It
could be possible that it is similar to how autistics can more likely have
anxiety or hyper mobility. However those traits as well as gender
isn’t exclusive to Autistics. For the exposure of autism and gender identity, the journey is just beginning… My name is Sara, and last November 2017
I was diagnosed late, very late diagnosed ASD, and I identify as Non-Binary or
Genderqueer. My name is Nyx. I was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome in 2015. But I prefer the term Autistic. My gender identity is Non-Binary. My name is Christa Holmans. I run the
“Neurodivergent Rebel” blog. I was formally diagnosed Autistic at the age of 29. I’m
a woman, but I’ve always been more of a tomboy. I’m Freya Pinney. I am diagnosed
Autistic by a clinical psychologist. Oh, I identify as Female. My name’s Jeanette Purkis. I’m an autistic advocate, author, public speaker. My Identity
is a person but as a non-binary gender person. My name is Kieran Rose, I’m
Autistic, I was diagnosed as Aspergers in 2003 and I’m cis heterosexual. Hi my name’s Madge, I’m 47 years old, I was diagnosed two and a half years ago, age 44, with Aspergers. My Gender Identity’s Non-Binary. My name’s Petra, I am Autistic, and I identify mostly as Genderqueer. I’m Sonny. I am Autistic. I was diagnosed in my late twenties, and I identify as Non-Binary. So, I’m Fergus Murray. I learned I was
Autistic about 9 years ago now I guess? 8 or 9 years? I find it hard to pin down my Gender Identity. My name is Rachel, of Oni Photography. I am autistic, and I identify myself as Cisgender, but also unsure.

7 thoughts on “The Autistic Ways of Gender

  1. I really want to share this with my trans/autistic community, but I can't watch it. The speech is too fast for my auditory processing and the captions are YouTube's auto-captions which means they suck AND they're going too fast for me to try to interpret what the actual words are. This is an entirely inaccessible video. Can you please add captions to it? Or provide a full transcript? I understand if you don't have the resources to do so, but I can't in good conscience share it with other Autistics in this inaccessible condition. 🙁 Thanks!

  2. So little of the sound on this is decipherable so I'd appreciate a transcript. Also this seems exclusively those who believe they are superior by their so called function—a bimodal social control construct (myth fantasy delusion) And it follows they usually are late diagnosed. Sadly they accept that hate concept (possibly because they need it for self-esteem?) while standing up against the fake bimodal gender social control construct. As long as it is a basic human obsession to demand one's own difference be accepted while passionately denying other's variants any acceptance we will not progress under the label "Human" identity! IDIC = cherish all difference that doesn't take basic rights from others because that is the source of our growth and strength. ♡

  3. for me gender is a social contrast (as apposed to biologically sex, like she mentioned), and i dont even speak the social language so I never understood the fuss of girls should be like this and boys should be like this. when i was young i used to play with 'boys toys' and 'girls toys' but for me, i ever saw it like that. i saw it as, I liked this specific thing because I feel a connection with it. thats that. i also never really cared about how i dressed and only wore something if its comfortable. i could go on, but i just dont see gender the way society expects me to. anyways thanks for making this, now i dont feel so alone :).. im a first year psych study and I want to do research on ASD and our struggles to create a better awareness for the general public. One day , i hope I will make a different in areas where we arent heard.

  4. There's quite a big difference between being non binary and going against the social construct of gender. Being non binary means you are dysphoric about your body, but don't identify with being male or female. Personally I feel that no one is male or female. The soul isn't gendered as far as I know.

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