Patreon members and YouTube channel members had access to this video on April 12, 2022. The video’s public release will be June 22, 2022.
Thumbnail image is of Lyric, a pale skinned nonbinary human, with short green, yellow, pink, and orange hair, with fresh shaved sides. They are sitting in an RV with dark wood panel walls. In front of them the words “Autism & Gender 101 ” in pale blue & green text.
More information about the study mentioned in the video above can be found HERE.
According to one study that included 641,860 people: “people who do not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth are three to six times more likely to be autistic as cis-gender people.”
I will link that study in the comments below, but we’re going to talk about how autism can relate to gender, and my personal experience of this as an Autistic,non-binary, human.
If you are at all curious about this, please do stay tuned.
Gender is a social construct and a social identity. Someone’s gender is determined by how they feel. An individual can feel more like a man, more like a woman, they can also feel like both, neither, or something in between.
I am a nonbinary, Autistic, who uses they/them pronouns. I do not consider myself man or woman. I am someone in between.
I opened this video with a study, showing connectivity between gender diversity and being Autistic, and people might ask “how does being Autistic influence someone’s gender?”
For me, personally, being Autistic impacts every part of my experience, and who I am as a person. That includes my attractions to other people, who I like, the attractions to interests, and hobbies, and passions I have, and my experience of gender.
Autistic People are known, according to the heavily medicalized diagnostic criteria, as having “abnormal social approach” and “difficulties adjusting behavior to suit various social contexts.”
I don’t like this medical language, and I rather humanize these issues, since I speak from lived experience, as a person, and not a medical condition.
By definition, we struggle to fit ourselves into the air quotes, norms of society, whatever they be.
We experienced social pressure differently and suffer when forced to conform to the expectations of other people.
From my, personal, Autistic experience, I am willing to examine all of these social constructs under a magnifying glass, and many of them simply have never made sense to me.
For example: binary genders, being attracted only to people of one gender, monogamy.
I understand these things work for some people, but personally, these concepts have never been for, or even made sense, or seemed logical, or natural, to me.
Being Autistic means I don’t fit neatly into a box. I make my own box. I am the square peg that can’t be pushed into the round hole without destroying the peg. My experience of gender is no exception to the rest of my life.
Like with everything else, being Autistic has fundamentally shaped how I relate to gender. Since gender is a social construct, and social constructs are, by definition, one of the things that Autistic people don’t fit neatly within… there are many Autistic People who feel as if being Autistic influences their experience of gender.
So many NeuroDivergent People have experienced their NeuroDivergence impacting their gender identity, that there are terms, Autigender, and Neurogender, that describe these experiences.
Talking about Autigender, I just want to make sure you understand, it’s not saying “autism is a gender” -okay?
It’s talking about the relationship that a person has between autism and their gender, and some of us feel that our gender is so heavily influenced by our Autistic experience, that it is impossible to understand where one ends and the other ends, because they are so interconnected.
Not all Autistic People are going to identify with this, only those of us who feel our gender’s influenced by being Autistic.
Thinking about my own experience of gender. I was assigned girl and woman at birth and these assignments felt like assignments that had been given to me, that I had no say in, and it didn’t matter if I felt as if they were correct, or as if they fit.
I was given an assignment, and I put it on as part of my Autistic and NeuroDivergent mask, playing a part, trying to blend in, and be air quotes, “socially acceptable” to be treated better by people in society. This included masking by dressing and acting air-quotes “appropriately” for that assigned gender role I had been given.
What people don’t see, and therefore don’t understand, about being gender fluid is that there is an internal shift, on the inside, that I may or may not choose to express outwardly, in my presentation and my dress. So this external presentation, that you see, doesn’t always match with how I’m feeling on the inside, because these gradual shifts can happen over long and slow periods of time, or they can be triggered more rapidly, and happen more quickly, depending on the situation, and other various factors in my life at that point in time.
I can control how I dress, and how I express myself outwardly, but I don’t control those feelings that are happening inside. It’s very hard to explain this to other people. I do know, however, that there are things I can do to trigger those feelings in one direction or the next, there are certain things that can sometimes tilt, and move, and pull those inner feelings, but it’s not always something I have a lot of control over.
So, even if I’m expressing something outwardly one way, it doesn’t mean I’m being true to myself, or how I’m feeling on the inside.
I haven’t had the emotional safety to express myself authentically in many spaces, and for most of my life.
I grew up in Texas. We are seeing Texas in the news, right? Bible, belt, USA. So my gender identity, and orientation, and my autism, and my NeuroDivergence, are all these invisible differences that, especially here in the Southern part of the United States, are thought of as “bad” or “undesirable”.
I learned to make myself small, to avoid abuse and bullying. I would comply with my assigned labels,, because I didn’t know there were other options, I conformed because I was sure nobody would understand what I was going through, despite feeling like I was lying to myself and everyone around me.
Eventually, because I had the meat suit that people associated with this assignment that I had been given, I started to go along with things.
For a lot of years I used the label of girl, woman, she, her, because it was expected of me, and often, just much easier.
After immersing myself in the Autistic Community, I met more people who were like me, in more ways than one. I started to develop a vocabulary for the gender experiences I’d been struggling to articulate for most of my life, and once again, I found labels that fit.
This is why representation is so incredibly important. People need to be able to see themselves reflected back in society. Our mainstream, white, cis, heteronormative society, often erases those of us who don’t fit into those stereotypes, or those definitions of what “socially acceptable” air quotes, air quotes, air quotes – is.
Thing that gets me about air quotes “socially acceptable” is that “socially acceptable” changes, depending on where you are in the country, or in the world. When I travel, there are things that are socially acceptable, here in Texas, that are, definitely, not socially acceptable in other countries, and other parts of the world.
There are parts of the world where this eye contact, that many of us are scolded for not giving, here in America, is considered rude.
Thinking about time… once upon a time, men and women would have dressed much differently, what was socially acceptable for different people was very different. A hundred years ago, things that were completely acceptable would now be completely unacceptable, and things that are completely socially acceptable today, will probably be completely unacceptable in a hundred years or more.
My big “aha” moment came from experiencing the words of Autistic and Queer adults. Learning to live my best, and most authentic, life, in relation to all of my identities has been instrumental in getting my mental and physical health back on track.
This is something that I wish would be possible for others like me, and everyone, all over the world; everyone listening to me today, and listening to this video in the future. I wish everyone ease in their own skin, in their own minds, ease and a life that is suited to who you are as a person, your needs, and empowers you to live your best authentic life, as your most authentic and empowered self.
Thank you all so much for hanging out with me this week. I really appreciate your time, because I know it is valuable.
Thank you so much for everyone who gives video suggestions, comments, drops your questions, and also to the Patreon subscribers, YouTube channel members, and Facebook supporters, who helped do that little monetary subscription ,that helps me pay for things like website hosting, video transcriptioning software, and all of the great accessibility tools that make this content accessible. Those tools are available with transcripts, on my blog at NeuroDivergentRebel dot com.
All of this wouldn’t be possible without the help, and support, of viewers like you. So as always, I am incredibly grateful. I will see you all next Wednesday. Don’t forget to turn on that notification, so you do not miss that update.
Can I get these words out today? Whew.
All right. I will see you all next week. Bye!
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