BY MANDY KLEIN
June is Pride month; a time when LGTBQ2+ people demonstrate for their rights and celebrate their gains. York Region Pride Parade (June 16th in Newmarket) is billed as a family friendly event. There are child and family activities after the parade.
WHY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT GAY PRIDE IN AN AUTISM ARTICLE? THERE ARE A HIGHER PERCENTAGE OF AUTISTIC PEOPLE WHO ARE GENDER FLUID OR TRANSGENDER COMPARED TO NON-AUTISTIC PEOPLE.
Studies have been done and they have found that among those who are transgender, there is a higher percentage of autism- both diagnosed and undiagnosed (for articles on this see, Increased Gender Variance in Autism Spectrum Disorders and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, How Our Society Harms Trans People Who Are Also Autistic, The Link Between Autism and Trans Identity.)
WHY DO MORE AUTISTIC THAN NON-AUTISTIC PEOPLE COME OUT AS TRANS OR GENDERFLUID? DOES IT MATTER?
In talking about the actual coming out part, they are already deemed different and judged by non-Autistic people, so what is one more difference. While Autistic people are taught and bullied into not being our true self, some things we can’t/won’t hold back and we allow to show through our masks. That’s not to say that there aren’t still many more LGTBQ2+ Autistic people who are closeted just as there are many closeted non-autistic LGTBQ2+ people. There are also many closeted Autistic people. For the most part though, Autistic people aren’t as worried about the same social constructs as non-Autistic people and therefore don’t conform to society’s perfect gender boxes.
MY SON IS PART OF TWO GREAT COMMUNITIES WHICH HAVE SIMILAR BACKGROUNDS OF BEING DISCRIMINATED AGAINST, STIGMATIZED, BEING BULLIED AND TOLD TO NOT BE WHO YOU ARE.
Parents of Autistic kids may come to realize or be told by their child, as I was, that their kids are not only part of the Autistic community but also part of the LGBTQ2+ community. The good thing is that LGTBQ2+ people are gaining the rights that they deserve as human beings and gay conversion therapy is being banned in many places. There are still fights to be had but there is a lot of progress. Autistic people on the other hand still seem to be in the basic stages of being seen as people. We are still fighting for our rights and to have autism conversion therapy banned. Yes, they are the same therapies with the same roots. Autistic people are even many times excluded from the LGTBQ2+ community. Many events are not disability friendly and there is stigma around neurodivergence (see Lydia Brown’s article, Gendervague: At the Intersection of Autistic and Trans Experiences for more on this topic.