I’m trans and autistic, and yes, (for me) they’re related

My gender is autistic.

I don’t mean my gender is autism, this is not a singular noun that names something I “have”, this is one of the adjectives that describes my gender, because it is one of words that describes me as a whole.

I use lots of words to describe my gender. You’ll get the whole list. But if I get one word, if the world expects a summary, then I say “I am trans”. I am. I don’t think there is, but if there were a scale of transness from 0 to 100%, I figure I’d be around 117%. So as a summary word, it works. If I get one more word, if someone wants to pin me down into something more specific, I’ll go with nonbinary. Not a man or a woman. But wow is it more complicated than that. I want you to understand why, for me, being trans is intertwined with being autistic.

My gender does not fit into normative social expectations associated with womanhood and manhood – just like my neurotype doesn’t fit into normative social expectations in general. I’m pretty sure I don’t even understand what those social norms are. I tried to make a spreadsheet, once, to collect stereotypical traits and phenomena associated with binary genders, in order to try to correlate my own parallel traits and see if I could match up my experiences anywhere. For example, I made a category for clothes – listing quintessentially binary-coded clothes items like lingerie, pantyhose, neckties, suits, et cetera. What clothes items would people who know me consider quintessential endever*? Well, probably knee socks with cool designs (birds, rainbows, dinosaurs, books, stripes) and Harry Potter T-shirts. (The socks are partly a sensory thing, and Harry Potter is my special interest, which leads us back to… hi, yes, autistic). These are not exactly very gendery pieces of clothing. And literally I don’t even know how lingerie or business suits work. Like – sizes, fastenings, names of components…? I never learned any of that. Nor did I learn the other allistic things people drape themselves in, expecting me to understand – facial expressions, nonverbal language. I mean, for all I know there are even differences in those minutiae between typical binary gender expressions. Maybe I can have a row on my spreadsheet for quintessentially binary coded body language – and then, the column for my own would be filled by… what, stimming? I mean, I imagine that’s the way I move which stands out to any given person around me.

So yeah, my gender is autistic. I mean, hell, do neurotypical cis people even make spreadsheets to try to figure out what gender is?

I want to explain the other words I use for my gender, less common than trans and nonbinary. You may think they are absurd, too specific, meaningless trends. I do not care. I do not need your approval to be who I am.

Neurogenders are genders specific to neurodivergent people whose experience of gender relates to their neurotype or who feel they can’t fully understand gender due to their neurotype. So one of the words I use to describe my gender is neuro-enby. (Enby is short for nonbinary.)

That starts to address what I’ve described above. Really, the social norms of gender are endlessly mystifying to me. I can look at a group of men interacting or a group of women interacting and feel like… I don’t know, another species? Or maybe like a stranger visiting a foreign land and deep in culture shock? These metaphors are too cliche to be fully accurate. I just know with my whole being that these are not my people. I do not belong. I watch, but I have no idea what’s going on or why. They all seem to be using an invisible dialect that runs under and over and alongside their spoken English, and I know that if I were to approach them and try to join the conversation I would be the odd one out – even if I’m not using AAC that day. Maybe they’d assume I was a cis person of the “opposite” binary gender, maybe they’d figure I was a gender nonconforming “one of them”, or maybe they’d manage to realize I’m trans but then would spend the entire conversation staring at me hoping for some clue as to “which direction” I’ve transitioned in… or, maybe they’d just attribute my weird gender cues to a more general weirdness they might describe as outcast, crazy, eccentric, unpleasant. I mean, I can put in effort to try to “pass” as cis and neurotypical – I can try to mask my autistic traits and aim my gender expression in one direction or another – but it’s really up to them whether any of it will work. Their preconceived notions about what makes a man and what makes a woman and what makes a normal brain will filter everything about me into their personal diagnostic framework and their personal gender categories.

That’s often safer for me, to shift my behavior whatever way I can to try to blend into the crowd. But the thing is, it doesn’t always work. Maybe I’m masking and gendering as hard as I can and they still spot the fake. Because for me being a neuro-enby means I never quite get the joke. It’s not just that I feel like I’m not one of them, often they notice something about me that confirms it. People say there are five love languages or something – well, if there are two binary gender languages, I don’t understand either. If there is one allistic language, I usually need a translator. So: neuro-enby. I don’t understand allistic or binary genders, and probably never will. They are unfathomable, incomprehensible. Social constructs? Sure. But I’ve never been that good at social stuff.

Okay, so you’ve got some of my gender words now. The others are neutrois stargender/dryagender/fasciboy-flux contrabinary genderpunk.

Neutrois, neutral gender or lack of gender, gets closest to describing my relationship to my body. To be frank, that relationship consists mostly of distress: a dysphoria I experience first and foremost proprioceptively, perhaps due to the autistic way I process sensory information. Various medical interventions can ameliorate my dysphoria, get me closer to the body I feel would represent my internal sense of self better – but with that I have to be careful. If the provider finds out I’m autistic, will they decide I can’t really be trans? I try to avoid using AAC when interacting with surgeons, out of worry they’ll think I’m not competent to give consent. But… why should I have to hide who I am in order to express who I am? I am neutrois. My body feels wrong internally. Body parts are not occupying the correct airspace, nerves go in the wrong directions, when I move my center of balance feels off. This is as integral to my sensory reality as is my difficulty processing auditory information and my hypersensitivity to bright sunlight.

Stargender: there have been stars in all of my names, my first tattoos were stars, I have always felt a strong connection to the symbol as well as the actual points of light in the sky. The way words are visually/kinaesthetically spelled is more important to me than their pronunciation, due to my autistic relationship to language and speech – so yeah, my name does have a star at the end as a silent letter. That’s just how you spell it, the same way it’s all lowercase because that’s just how you spell it. That’s what looks right. Is it autistic to be so attached to a simple abstract symbol? I don’t know. But starness is more a part of me than maleness or femaleness could ever be. Plus one of the meanings, beyond simply being the gender of a star, is that stargender refers to a gender which is unknowable. So, back to me and neurogenders.

Dryagender is a gender that has to do with the feeling of an empty forest. I was born in the forest, at least in the sense that is important. I am a creature of the forest; no matter how long I live in the city, that cannot be separated from me – just like being autistic cannot be separated from me despite how long I spent surrounded by people training me to pretend otherwise.

Fascigenders are genders specific to autistic people that relate to a special interest. Well, as mentioned, Harry Potter is my special interest. I identify as who Harry would be if he were a Ravenclaw (that is, I don’t have the same personality as him, just a relatable plotline). And I swear to the gods, dying my hair black and putting on my round prescription glasses and donning robes and wand holster feel less like drag than anything else I can think of. That’s the thing – for me being neutrois means EVERYTHING feels like drag. My personal six word memoir is mostly “one long drag show: no tips”. But dressed as Harry, with maybe a striped Ravenclaw tie thrown in? That’s better. That’s maybe a little closer to me. Because my special interests are one way I express who I am. This degree of focus and enthusiasm is one of my autistic traits. I read and reread and watch and rewatch canon, I listen almost exclusively to wizard rock (fan-produced Harry Potter themed music), I collect way too much merch, I read translations of the books in Latin, Scots dialect, and other languages I want to learn, I work wizards into my school projects, I go to conventions… Harry Potter is a deep part of me. Fasciboy fits.

Flux, attached to those last three descriptors of my gender, indicates that their intensity can vary over time. As far as I can tell I’m often at least a tiny bit stargender, a tiny bit dryagender, and a tiny bit fasciboy – but at some times might not be all of them at once. And the amounts can be more than just a tiny bit; the amounts and proportions vary over time. I don’t bother noticing from day to day how much of each I am, I’m just so accustomed to fluctuations I don’t take note of them unless I consciously consider it. Maybe this could relate to alexithymia and problems with interoception and other autistic differences in reading internal states, or maybe it’s just not important to me to narrow down, I don’t know.

Okay, now the juicy ones are left, which is that I’m a contrabinary genderpunk. I made up, to the best of my knowledge, the adjective contrabinary, but genderpunk has been around for awhile. Contrabinary means my gender is in direct opposition to the gender binary system – it’s not just that it doesn’t fit comfortably within that system, it’s that it actively defies it. My contrabinary gender exists as a proclamation of war. (Okay, I’ve got nothing against noncissexist people who personally identify as a single binary gender, it’s the construct and the violence implicit to it that are the problem.) And for me genderpunk, which I use as more of a noun, represents some of the style and politics of resistance I associate with my gender. It’s a word I endeavor to embody the way I endeavor to embody “autpunk”. That is: screw the cops, stim with pride, down with cis, eat the rich, defiance not compliance, binders and glitter, spikes and patches, chew necklaces and wearable AAC. I will fuck up your normal with my autistic brain and my trans body and my special interest clothes and the way I move and the way I communicate and my scribbles over your check-one-box paperwork and my anti-cure response to your medical model and yeah, the way I spell my name.

My gender is autistic. Maybe a month from now or a year from now or a decade from now I’ll have found a different set of words to feel like home in, but for now this collection describes how these aspects of who I am define each other.

If you know someone else who is neurogender, or another gender you’ve never heard of, or simply autistic plus trans of any kind: believe them when they tell you who they are. TELL them you believe them. And then tell the world that you believe us, and so should everyone.

Happy Autistics Speaking Day!

I don’t actually speak in the literal sense all that often; I use a speech generating device and sign language to help me communicate more easily. And I love typing, writing, texting, tweeting. I’ve been thinking about starting a blog for awhile, so this seemed like the perfect day to begin.

As a multiply marginalized person, I know that choosing to continue to exist in this world is an act of rebellion. What I’d like to add to that ongoing rebellion, now, is a more dedicated space for sharing my truths. I’m on Twitter all the time, but any of my more relevant thoughts there are mixed in with nonsensical livetweeting of my favorite shows and yelling about out-of-context wizard rock. And I write #ownvoices novels full of queer neurodivergent characters, but thus far no one reads those. So I want to consolidate my rebellion words here, in a format I can direct others to if they might be interested in what I have to say.

So what do I have to say? I exist. I exist in defiance of normal. I do not fit expectations, yet I and people like me have inherent worth anyway. Maybe we do not look or sound or think or communicate or move or dress or act the way typical people do. Too often this prompts typical people to dismiss us, and their world has long since been built to systematically exclude us. I have a lot to say about that.

So who am I? A version of the existing summary found in an intro thread on my Twitter will pretty much cover it:

I’m endever*! Yes, lowercase and with a star. My pronouns are they/them/theirs/themself or xe/xem/xyrs/xemself.

I’m trans! Lots of words apply: neuro-enby neutrois stargender/dryagender/fasciboy-flux contrabinary genderpunk mostly sums it up. 😀

I’m queer! Acevague/arovague; sexual/romantic/platonic attractions usually governed by gender noncomformity, queerness, and punkness.

I’m autistic! Yes identity-first language, no functioning labels, yes stimming unapologetically, no ABA. I’m somewhat faceblind, synaesthetic, semiverbal, and use AAC part-time.

I’m otherwise disabled! I self-summarize with the positively reclaimed “crazy”, and also get frequent migraines. I’m on meds, in therapy, in and out of the hospital, and chronically tired of ableism.

I will yell about ableism! Systemic & interpersonal, ideological & linguistic. And I will yell about other oppressions! I’m forever learning intersectional anti-oppressive activism and I hope you are too. If I’m messing up in an area I hold privilege, I want to hear about it. If you have the desire and spoons, feel welcome to contact me. And if I’m not giving content warnings you need, please let me know. I can get better at it.

I’m low-income – I live on disability benefits and have to spend a lot of my time trying to access services/supports. I’m most culturally comfortable with other poor people.

I’m an unschooler! I value learning over formal education/grades. I’m against compulsory school and all for investing in libraries. I volunteer at the public library – I’m unable to work an actual job right now but usually pull off a couple hours/week of pulling requested items.

Libraries are basically a special interest for me. My main, giant special interest is Harry Potter, but often whatever TV show I’m rewatching also qualifies.

I’m a writer! Historically a poet, I’ve now written two novels and have started working on the last in the trilogy. I also make crafts and would love to send some to you! See this thread on my Twitter for info on the buttons I have available and how to request them: buttons!

That’s me! So expect this blog to be about any and all of that. (Yes, probably including some Harry Potter stuff here and there.) There are times I like this life of mine and times that I very don’t, but in either case I find value in the sharing of it. I believe that friendship and compassion and relationship-building and listening and truth-telling are important ways to change the world. Maybe, just maybe, I can do a little bit of that changing here.