Gender is a spectrum – it’s not a straight line or a two-axis graph. It’s a spectrum. A gender that is often overlooked, but regularly experienced by Autistic individuals, is Autigender.
However, it’s regularly debated, often gatekept from the Gender Non-Conforming community, and has many misconceptions. Let’s discuss it.
I want to clarify before we continue that I am an AuDHD person (someone with Autism and ADHD). I don’t solely identify with Autigender as it doesn’t fully encompass my experience of gender as a whole.
Autigender – the experience of Autism having a solid, unlinkable influence on someone’s gender identity.
So, what is Autigender?
As the definition above explains, it’s a gender identity or experience that only Autistic people can experience. The main misconception around Autigender is that it makes Autism a gender – which is not the case. It’s simply the experience of Autism influencing their gender rather than Autism being their gender.
My way of explaining this is:
As someone who wasn’t diagnosed with Autism until adulthood, I learnt to mask as a child and continued through my life. That mask is a girl or a woman – because that’s the gender I was assigned and the gender I was raised as. Therefore, when I mask in public – I typically appear as a woman. My Autism, specifically my masking, highly influences my gender expression when I’m forced to be normal.
But, outside of Neurotypical environments – I’m Non-Binary in every way. In reality, gender has no hold over me. I’m not drawn to being a woman or a man; I’m not drawn to being perceived in a specific way. I don’t want to be feminine, masculine, or androgynous all the time. I feel, simply, Non-Binary. And being in a Neurotypical environment doesn’t change that, but it does change how my Autism makes me act and present. For Trans and Gender Non-Conforming Autistic people, this is a common experience, especially when they didn’t receive a diagnosis until their teen years or adulthood.
Another misconception is that Allistics [a non-autistic person] can be Autigender. This is incorrect. Autigender can only be experienced by Neurodivergent people. Because Autism isn’t a gender, you need to have Autism to experience Autigender.
While it has been seen that some Allistics have identified as Autigender in an attempt to “make Autism a gender” – it’s not common and usually gets shut down before it gets anywhere. Because it’s something that, even after pointing out, Allistics keep contradicting: AUTISM IS NOT A GENDER.
Let me know if you want me to cover other gender identities, expressions and experiences!
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