Gender and autism: What the autistic community wants you to know
There is no wrong way to enjoy Pride, and we encourage everyone in the autism community to take some time to reflect on the challenges those around you face. We hope this resource blog encourages our community to foster greater understanding and compassion.
The autism community has a large and diverse representation within it, including a large number of people within the greater LGBTQ+ community. It is possible that autism is overrepresented among LGBTQ+ because autistic people are less likely to bow to social pressures that keep other people from coming out. Perhaps they are less likely to identify with social “norms” and pressures and therefore present themselves authentically. By listening to and acknowledging our autistic peers, we can gain a better understanding of the uniqueness of the human experience.
Awareness in assessment and medical teams working with autistic people is very important. They should be sensitive to different information processing/communication styles as well as different gender identities. Some autistic people may struggle to express their feelings regarding gender. Even when they do express their feelings, they often face doubts from clinicians because of stereotypes about autistic people, which can block their access to medical care.
Let’s start with the basics!
What is gender diversity?
- Some people do not feel fully masculine or feminine, and explicitly reject the notion of two mutually exclusive genders.
- Gender divergent (variant/non-conforming): someone who does not conform/identify with their assigned gender but may/may not consider themselves trans.
- Some trans people opt to alter their bodies via hormones or surgery, those who identify as genderqueer or non-binary may adopt a name and pronouns that better reflect their sense of self, without physically changing their bodies.
What are some challenges currently facing the Autistic LGBTQ+ community?
- Limited or restricted access to safe opportunities to explore sexuality/gender identity.
- A lack of resources and safe places specific to Autistic LGBTQ+
- Missing, absent, or incomplete sexual language and education
- A lack of belief and affirming support for their feelings and/or expressed identity.
What support is needed for the Autistic LGBTQ+ community?
- Information about sexuality, gender, and relationships should be given clearly from a young age
- There should be comprehensive and inclusive sex education
- Programs for people on the spectrum should include information about LGBTQ+ communities to help young autistic people navigate their sexuality and gender.
- LGBTQ+ groups and communities should be more intentionally proactive and inclusive of neuro-diverse people.
- We should all highlight struggles attaining an assessment or diagnosis due to masking, not being taken seriously, or heard.
- We need to highlight the importance of Pride, visibility, and how to be an ally. We are not there yet despite some progress being made.
- Let’s empower parents and families with how to use language.
“Autistic people are more likely to be gender-diverse, but most problems they encounter with such identities are societal and systemic in nature. Gender affirmation and support from friends, family, and health services to clear those barriers can often be the difference between life and death for a gender-diverse Autistic person.” – Gee Abraham, Nov. 2019
Now, let’s get into the resources. We have them broken up into categories so you can find the ones you need when you want them.
Autism, Gender, Identity & Sexuality
Overlap Between Autism & Gender Diversity – Laura Dattaro
Gender and Sexuality in Autism, Explained – Laura Dattaro
Respect Sexual Orientation, Gender Diversity in Autism – John Strang
Access to Better Sex Education – Steven Stagg
Living Between Genders – Deborah Rudacille
Nonbinary & Autistic: What’s it Like? – NeuroClastic
Relationship Between Autism & Gender; An Autistic Perspective – Lyric Holmans
Gender Equity & LGBTQ2S+ Resources – Government of BC
LGBTQ2S+ Toolkit – AIDE Canada
Dancing to Eagle Spirit Society
LQBTQ+ Immigrant & Refugee Resources – Mosaic
When Autistic Students Are LGBTQ2+ – Wendy McGuire & Dori Zener
Transgender Nonbinary Student Guide
Aide Canada Gender Based Violence Toolkit
Social Support & Connection:
QMUNITY – BCs Queer, Trans & Two-Spirit Resource Centre
Two-Spirit & Indigenous LGBTQQIA Support Circle – Native Youth Sexual Health Network
Creative Diversity Friends Club
Sydney and Kirra’s LGBTQ+ Social Group
Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Neurodiversity – Dana Vilker
Trans and Autistic: Stories from Life at the Intersection
Spectrums: Autistic Transgender People in Their Own Words
The Autistic Trans Guide to Life @Website pls add
Misfit: Changemaker with an Edge: Souvaliotis, Andreas: 9780992029500: Books – Amazon.ca
Queerly Autistic – Be proudly autistic. Be proudly queer. Be proudly you.
Self-Advocates & Advocacy Groups:
Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network (AWN)
Life as a Transgender Autistic: Passing and Masking – August Queue
Trans Newcomers Resource Hub – Mosaic
Autistic & Trans – Facebook Group
Gay and on the Autism Spectrum – Eric Ascher
Hashtags to Follow:
#WeAreNotConfused #DifferentNotLess #LateNotLess #Autistic
Trans Lifeline – (877)330-6366 (In Canada)
310-Mental Health – 310-6789 (no area code needed)
YouthinBC – 604-872-3311 (in BC)
Intro to Gender Diversity Free Online Course
We know how overwhelming acronyms can be, so we created this handy little glossary to help out! We will be updating it regularly, so please let us know if anything is missing or if one of our definitions is incorrect.
Do you know of a resource that should be on our list? Please reach out here and let us know.