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This is a topic that’s come up a lot in my Autistic women’s support group. Many of us -a much higher percentage than you’d see in a similarly sized meeting of NT women- are gay, genderqueer, or utterly baffled about the purpose of gender. (There’s another meeting just for the LBGTQ and genderqueer and trans autistics. Like the women’s-only meeting, it was started by popular demand.)

One of my peeps sent me this tonight:


and I’m not going to see her or my group for almost two weeks, during which time I will die if I can’t discuss it. 


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Yes, I find that being autistic makes my experience of gender and being trans different than what it is for a NT person. 

My experience of gender is pretty much limited to that of gender dysphoria, which I think effects me more than it effects NT trans people.

A mixture of my autistic traits makes my dysphoria unbearable even with hormone treatment. Particularly sensory issues mixed with my extremely analytical brain that is always trying to make sense of things, and find solutions for problems, when gender dysphoria doesn't have a solution and the way that trans people are treated can't be rationalised.

My sensory issues make me hyperaware of body parts that invalidate my gender as defined by me, which makes it hard to do activities and functions associated with them. 

Also, my experience of being a man is not cisnormative, in a world where we are all expected to be cisnormative. Not just because I don't have the same parts or bodily functions either. Most cisgender men, especially white cisgender men, are of majority and are treated as such, whereas I am not.

Nor do I support some of the advantages of being a white cisgender male. Or the stereotypical biases about men in general. 

My experience of being a man is entirely cerebral. The body I have is only partially connected with that, which because of the pressures of cisnormativity and my personal beliefs as to what would make me complete as a man, is extremely difficult on my "better days". 

I think that autistic people can have our own experience of gender because we experience gender as it is intended, in the brain, as opposed to in the body and genitals like most people define gender. For us, we are, in my opinion, better able to understand that gender and biological sex are not the same thing, and that biological sex doesn't always define you as much as gender does. 

What is the purpose of gender? All I can really say is that society has that very wrong. I think gender has the sole purpose of being part of a person, and that is all. 

It is my opinion that it is up to us as our own person to define what our gender is and means to us, and what, if any, other purpose it serves in our life. 

I think the real struggle comes with breaking out of that cisnormativity and allowing ourselves to accept that there is no binary when it comes to gender. Even males and females all experience their gender in different ways. 

My problem is that I accept that parts don't define my gender, but for me they are a large part of being me as a whole individual, not because having them makes me more of a man or more acceptable to others and society as a whole, or because I set out to be exactly the definition of cisnormative mankind, but because that is just who I am and what I need to function in life both physically and mentally. 

I have had to learn to defend who I am in this area, and to stop caring what others think of me, or believe me to be because I don't fit their tiny description of what a man should be. 

Because I wasn't brought into this world to fit some skewed ideal or other people's definitions. My life is extremely difficult already without succumbing to the hatred and bigotry of others. 

That is hard for me, I know too well that the world overall looks down on me for who I am, and every day there is some example of how I am treated as less because of it. 

I'm not some kind of toy or poster that deserves to be reduced to body parts. I have never understood, and never will understand how cis people go about their lives accepting that society reduces such a large part of who they are to their private parts and how they reproduce. 

Or how most of them don't even realise it. I can't comprehend it at all. 

My largest struggle to do with gender isn't my gender necessarily. It is how others stereotype it, the loss of human rights because of how society views it, and the personal hardships that come with accepting that I don't need anything more than I have to be a real man, but I do to be complete as a man, and no one really understands that. 

Makes sense to me that autistic people have a different experience of their gender, whatever that may be. We have a different experience with everything because we are different, and because we are expected to be the same and to function as everyone else does in a world that isn't really compatible with us.

I think if you are having difficulties with your gender, or even the purpose it serves in your life, spend some time reflecting on what it means to you and if it really fits with the person you are.

At the end of the day, only you can decide and define who you are. And you aren't body parts. 

I will say that whilst I still struggle with fear around others, mostly to do with fear of judgement and risk of discrimination, I have never been more free than the day I let myself escape the trap of allowing society and others to define what makes me a man, and what makes me a worthwhile man.

That was a trap I was glad to come out of, and a major step forward in my journey, both as a trans person and an autistic person. Maybe they don't want to let me be, but be damned if I won't let me be just because of what others say and think about me. 

Sorry if that isn't what you were looking for. 

Edited by Hopelessly Broken
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I would just like to say that that was beautiful Hopelessly Broken, you've pretty much described the core of my belief about gender.

Nice to see other people think the same way.

In regards to OP I had thought that my own less than standard gender coupled with my ASD was something I thought I was alone with. It's also nice too see that there are lots more than just me. ;-]

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I and a lot of the women from my group have trouble with, for one thing, experiencing gender as a thing that happens all the time. I have a very hard time understanding that people are responding to me as a female in situations that to me seem ridiculous for that purpose. How can it matter if I’m a woman when I’m buying groceries or speaking up at a meeting? If I’m talking to someone and expressing an idea, discussing a thought, that’s a moment when I feel particularly genderless; I feel like thought. Like a thinking entity. It disgusts me to realize that I’m being judged, or even considered, as a female, specifically. How on earth is it relevant?

This is hard to talk about; I don’t think I even have good language for the thoughts I’m trying to express.

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Yes, you're right. That is something that is rather odd about gender, however that doesn't come from you, it comes from others and societal standards of the gender. Most things in this world are in fact completely irrelevant to gender, but unfortunately the tradition of male and female makes people not realise it. 

That should begin to pass and fade away as the children of millenials and generation Z come into the world as older teens and young adults with enough place in society to change the way it runs, because the vast majority of Millenials and generation Z's don't have traditional beliefs, and oppose them strongly. 

I think the reason why people think that gender applies to everything is because it is part of our overall identity, which is something that doesn't change. That said, it also doesn't belong to anyone else, so yeah. Personally, there are a lot of times in life where I have wanted to tell someone, you know what, I am not some kind of toy or object, I belong to me only, and its only my right to say who I am and to apply it or not apply it. 

But of course, over the years I have learnt that my honesty isn't very appreciated and is often perceived as socially inappropriate, so I say nothing. 

At the end of the day it comes back to you. Do you consider yourself to be a female, and if so what can I do to remind myself that those things people believe are not true, they are just societal expectations that are my own choice as to whether or not I meet them. I am a woman because I am a woman, simple as that, and woman doesn't have to apply to the way I think or behave. 

For example, a lot of people in my life believe that I should be this huge tank of muscles and doing sport, and that I should be proud of the fact men get treated as better than everyone else because I am part of the male community. 

Well, sorry, but I'm not. And to be quite frank, you can shove that up your rear end, I don't believe in that whatsoever and I don't believe in the pressures that society places on people to look a certain way just because of their gender. My gender isn't glued to everyone else's eyeballs, it is glued within my brain, thanks. 


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