Something that always seemed to make sense to me but without a definitive explanation was that autistic people seem to be more likely to be queer, (this includes both sexuality and gender identity). I often noticed that a lot of queer people also show autistic traits, and I didn’t ever hear anyone talking about this.
Intersectionality is something that I recently discovered; it is when someone belongs to more than one marginalised group (for example, black trans women or disabled queer people). This can create new types of oppression for people with these overlaps and is something that needs to be talked about more.
This should also include conversations around privilege. Someone who is disabled and queer will face discrimination, but if they are white, then they still hold privilege from their whiteness. This is why during Pride Month, we should all focus on protecting those within the LGBTQ+ community that may experience racism.
There are a couple of different theories that explain why autistic people are more likely to be queer. One of these is that autistic people often do not hide their truth, we can be extremely honest and so perhaps this is why we seem to have more queer people in our community? Another explanation is that our brains aren’t built to follow the societal norms that other people do, we naturally sit outside of them and tend to express ourselves in ways that are not “normal”, which can include things like gender and sexuality. I think both of these theories could be plausible. There is a study on autistic AFAB individuals which supports both of these theories by exploring their gender identities (link below).
I have found that many people use autism as part of their queer identity and use terms such as “neuroqueer” to explain their experiences. It makes sense to me to intertwine the two, because they so naturally affect one another. Even phrases like “autigender” are now being used as identities because they include our autism and how that affects the way that we perceive gender.
Autism, Queerness and I
I see the world through the eyes of someone who sits within multiple spectrums. I have never seen gender and sexuality as binaries with only two extremes, but I understand their fluidity and I find it difficult to understand how someone could be restricted to one end of each spectrum. It is almost ironic when a stereotype for autistic people is thinking in black and white, and yet so many of us live in the grey areas.
I have always felt a very strong connection to the LGBTQIA+ community because I saw how they were treated simply for being different. When I got my autism diagnosis this made even more sense. As I have grown and learned more about both communities, I discovered such a huge overlap between the two. I have also become more comfortable in finally acknowledging my own place in the LGBQTIA+ community, and this is something I am still figuring out at my own pace. I learned that masking can include things like sexuality and gender identity, which is why autism should be talked about more in the queer community.
I think that queer autistic people are a beautiful example of what so many people try so hard to achieve; we are unapologetically ourselves. We do not need to restrict ourselves to two genders or one sexual preference. Many of us also belong on the asexual spectrum and live our lives happily and peacefully without forcing ourselves into things purely because they are what is expected. Autistic people defy so many rules and restrictions and limitations that society has tried to place on us, and so it seems only natural that we can also belong to other communities that are often deemed as “outsiders”.
This June is my first Pride month where I feel as though I actually know a lot about myself. I have found communities where I belong and I have met people who are like me. And I have gotten to the point where traditional roles and expectations are limiting my personal growth, so I’ve decided to reject them. I’ve outgrown them too much.
Happy Autistic Pride 🙂
Link to article: https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/aut.2018.0001