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Autism : providing healthy and positive alternatives to Gender Identity ideology

(61 Posts)
NonnyMouse1337 Fri 15-May-20 09:54:03

Anyone can be swept up into Gender Identity ideology. However, there does seem to be a higher incidence of autistic people who are susceptible to this outlook. Based on stories from parents, detransitioners etc it appears that autistic girls, and to some extent autistic boys, are more likely to claim / identify as trans, non-binary and so on.

Medical and scientific material mention the links between autism and gender dysphoria / transgenderism in passing. I could be mistaken but I don't think anyone has seriously examined what might be the cause(s) of such a link.

Organisations and charities for autism have fully capitulated to the Gender Identity lobby and are not concerned in the slightest by the disproportionate rise in transgenderism among autistics / aspies.

Online spaces like Facebook and Reddit groups for those on the autistic spectrum are full of Gender Identity believers and there's very little room for open criticism or alternatives presented to this fashionable trend.

It must be tricky as an autistic adult or child to find yourself in spaces that frame any discomfort you might have with certain types of clothing or gendered social behaviours and stereotypes as a sure sign that you are trans.

I have been wondering for a while on how to create a space for more healthy discussions around issues that autistic people might face, especially autistic women and girls; the frustrations and confusions that can arise from gendered stereotypes and that it's totally ok to be yourself without jumping to the conclusion that you must be the opposite sex.

A Facebook group might not be ideal because there is a risk of people's real names and personal information being exposed by troublemakers fishing for such stuff. A space on Reddit would need basic levels of moderation and supervision to stop users who are not members of the group from brigading for example, and I don't currently have the time to invest in being an admin or mod.

I'm open to suggestions, but for now I thought to stick up a thread here and use it as a space for anyone who is interested to discuss what are the issues autistic women and children might face, and how might we provide alternatives and better narratives / role models to help them feel happy and comfortable with being themselves.
Lots of people who aren't on the autistic spectrum also struggle with gendered stereotypes, however there might be some recurrent problems specific to autism that would be worth discussing.

Those of us with ASD (or those who have loved ones with ASD) and who are critical of Gender Identity ideology might still struggle with stuff - feeling like we don't fit in or singled out for not conforming. Do you think a space or thread specifically for autistic women and girls would be useful or worthwhile? What kind of support do you think is lacking or what do you think would help autistic women and children? smile

0DETTE Fri 15-May-20 10:12:20

I don’t know the answer to any of your questions but I’m grateful to you for raising them. I have two Aspie kids so this is of great concern to me.

NonnyMouse1337 Fri 15-May-20 11:08:57

Thanks, 0DETTE. Have you come across any gender identity propaganda through your children, their peers or the groups they are in? Or are they old / young enough to have avoided this stuff for now?
(Feel free to not answer such questions if you don't feel comfortable sharing such information in a public domain.)

NeurotrashWarrior Fri 15-May-20 11:35:30

It's an excellent idea. I've taught children with autism for many years now and can fully understand how gender and sex becomes a confusing area for them. I also taught a child many years ago who was eventually seen by the Tavistock, and helped to establish he was happy with his body.

What was interesting is that I taught him around the time he first was influenced by others about the idea of his body and mind being the issue rather than society. Prior to that, it was all just the gendered toys, clothes and films he preferred. It was also interesting that when I challenged his stereotypical ideas eg around football being just for boys by both showing him women's football teams and men's teams wearing pink, how happy he was then to play football (we had some visiting expert doing a session.)

I've seen a huge change in the way this is is all dealt with and approached by the media and the narrative in orgs influencing schools. I also see younger teachers and parents generally on Sm thinking more and more that trans is a condition, almost a bit like asd. Something to be fixed. This has entered the asd groups on fb and other sm as well as "lefty/ attachment" parenting groups. I feel like 20 years ago when I first went into teaching we were all naturally challenging sexism. Is it feels like we are perpetuating it.

I also have some issues with how stereotypes are used in autism, often as it ultimately also causes some children to be missed. Some of the stereotypes seen and used by the NAS for girls are actually excluding other girls who I believe have asd but don't fit that particular stereotype. I did find a really good research article helping to support this recently; I'll try to find it if I can. The NAS also instructs is NOT to confuse sensory seeking needs with gender identity. In younger children this is exactly what can happen as so many clothes and films and toys are very heavily sensorily gendered. Obviously a sensible parent or teacher knows the difference between those gendered items and a child's sex but so many clearly don't.

Obviously stereotypes can be useful in identifying characteristics of a condition but they do seem to easily get intermingled with gender and sex stereotypes in autism as so much of the diagnosis is around social interaction and communication.

I'm actually becoming scared to talk openly about this however. Fewer numbers of teachers are being trained in asd in the way I was due to budget restraints and are not getting the deeper understanding of what autism is and how things overlap etc.

NeurotrashWarrior Fri 15-May-20 11:38:35

(Not that asd is something to be fixed. A very clumsy sentence of mine. But some are holding the "gender identity" of children in a similarly important way to how work around recognising the needs of children with autism has been over the last 10 - 20 years.)

JellySlice Fri 15-May-20 15:38:43

At 10y my ds had long hair and purple trainers. He got fed up of people asking him if he thought he was a girl, and would state quite sharply "This isn't girl's hair, it's my hair and it's long." I even got called in once to discuss his 'rudeness' in talking to adults this way. Naturally, I backed him all the way.

Ds was also in the ASD assessment process (diagnosed 18m later) so I contacted the local Autism Support team for advice. I spelled it out that ds was gender-critical and very confident in his sense of self, but struggling with other people's expectations.

They sent me an invitation to a seminar on supporting your child's gender identity, taught by an 'expert' transman.

Thank goodness for Mumsnet. I actually got excellent advice here.

NonnyMouse1337 Fri 15-May-20 18:59:24

NeurotrashWarrior your wealth of experience and knowledge is invaluable. The children you teach are so lucky to have you!

Would you like to elaborate on why the autistic children can get confused between gender and sex?

It's hugely worrying hearing you describe the changes in how parents, teachers and various support groups are viewing all this. I fear ASD children are even less able to stand up for themselves when relentlessly surrounded by this ideology. sad

You've highlighted an important point that I hadn't properly appreciated before.
Many girls and women have been missed being diagnosed because the criteria was based on the stereotypes used for males.
Now that more girls are being diagnosed, it still seems like it is based on a certain profile or stereotype, so there are girls who continue to fall through the diagnostic net.

Ultimately, as you say, autism is primarily about issues around social communication and interactions, sensory sensitivities, and so on, and not about how they look or dress or what kind of interests they might have. I will aim to keep that in mind. I think my own experience of ASD fits some of these stereotypical profiles so it can be easy for me to forget that not everyone will be like that.

I hope you feel able to keep contributing as much of your knowledge in this area in threads like this, even if it's getting more difficult to do so in your day-to-day profession. I think as we see parents and teachers challenging and overturning the various trans toolkits in schools in general, there will need to be efforts made to examine the guidance used in special needs education and support. It might be easy for the general public to forget about children with ASD and other developmental issues and this will be the last area that is scrutinized. As an adult I know there's already little to no support out there for those like me. It's like people forget that autistic children grow into autistic adults.

BreathlessCommotion Fri 15-May-20 19:06:04

My dd is autistic and has been very confused at times. She went through a phase of being obsessed with whether clothes or toys were "for girls" or "for boys". She has dinosaur trainers and jumpers (special interest) that I ordered online. They were form the boys range, but she doesnt know that.

She gets confused because if everyone says things are for girls or for boys, she just accepts that as fact. To her that is a social rule that she's learnt. She's then confused that she doesn't necessarily like the things for girls. It's taken a lot of work for her to accept.

BreathlessCommotion Fri 15-May-20 19:08:01

My dd was diagnosed at Lorna Wing Centre, because they specialise in girls. She doesn't fit the stereotypes so much. She can make eye contact, she plays imaginatively, she wants and has friends (although she finds friendship very hard).

NonnyMouse1337 Fri 15-May-20 19:12:55

JellySlice your son sounds awesome and no doubt has great support with you on his side. Long may his straightforward 'rudeness' continue! Absolutely infuriating that people think it's ok to ask him if he thinks he's a girl because of things like his long hair. angry

They sent me an invitation to a seminar on supporting your child's gender identity, taught by an 'expert' transman.

OMG how many other parents might have naively gone along and their autistic children probably encouraged into thinking they are trans?! shockshock
Fucking hell, this sort of stuff needs a lot of scrutiny and sunlight. I hope the ongoing legal challenges against this ideology will help parents feel more confident in refuting this propaganda that's being pushed onto their children.

NonnyMouse1337 Fri 15-May-20 19:30:47

The NAS also instructs is NOT to confuse sensory seeking needs with gender identity.

I'm going to try and look for this - have to head out shortly, so will search tonight, but if anyone has a link to hand, that would be great! smile

BreathlessCommotion I totally understand your daughter's need to figure out exactly what the social rules and norms are and then struggling to find her place in them. I was super obsessed with dinosaurs too. Actually I would still love dinosaur jumpers and trainers! My face mask has astronauts on them. grin

I don't have children so I had to struggle to contain my disappointment and anger when I passed through the children's aisle of a supermarket recently. It was so unbelievably gendered with pink stuff on one side and blue or grey stuff on the other. The boy pyjamas had dinosaurs and aliens while the girl pyjamas had flowers and unicorns. I would have been so disappointed and confused as a girl because dinosaurs and funny looking aliens would have been my thing. I hate how gendered these things are when they don't need to be. sad

JellySlice Fri 15-May-20 23:37:52

In trying to work out the social rules, ds has worked out that it's safer for him to conform.

But even though he is certain of himself, he can get very confused by other messages about other people, especially if the message comes from an authority figure.

NeurotrashWarrior Sat 16-May-20 09:06:30

Nonny, it's Joe Butler who writes a lot about that.

NonnyMouse1337 Sat 16-May-20 09:53:24

JellySlice maybe as he gets older, he might find it easier to let his preferences override the messaging from other people. It's not easy though, especially when you look up to and trust those in a position of authority.

NonnyMouse1337 Sat 16-May-20 10:16:45

Nonny, it's Joe Butler who writes a lot about that.

Thanks for that, NeurotrashWarrior.

I searched for 'joe butler autism' and this was the first article that popped up.

network.autism.org.uk/knowledge/insight-opinion/supporting-trans-and-gender-questioning-autistic-pupils

This person seems like a full-on Gender Identity evangelist.

Ensure that a pupil’s expression is not automatically attributed to autism, e.g. clothing preferences or hair length seen as a sensory need, or behaviours explained as special interests.

hmm

Some may benefit from written rules/scripts around what is socially acceptable in different contexts. Established routines, for example the ‘rules’ of public toilets, may need to be retaught in the pupil’s affirmed gender.

Not sure I understand this. confused

Further excerpts:

Be sensitive to the sensory differences faced by some for example the emotional impact of not being able to tolerate chest binders (worn by some trans males to make chests look flatter).

For those who may need support with their personal care needs, ensure clothing changes and toiletry products such as deodorants are fitting with the pupil’s affirmed gender.

Proactively train all staff around gender diversity, terminology, and challenging stereotypes and transphobia. The ‘Genderbread Person’ or ‘Gender Unicorn’ are useful in explaining gender as a spectrum. Know where to signpost pupils and their families to access specialist support. Work with these agencies to reciprocally develop each other’s understanding of autism or gender identity.

Teach and support the other pupils when a peer has chosen to socially transition. This is easier in a school where the culture and curriculum have been proactively embedded in raising trans awareness.

Bring the whole school community together in celebrating events such as LGBT History Month and Transgender Day of Visibility.

Be aware of gender-specific language, signs and symbols. Use ‘hello everyone’/‘great work’ rather than ‘hello boys and girls’/‘good man’. Be especially conscious of language and symbols that reinforce gender stereotypes.

Lol because things like switching deodorants to 'fit' with the pupil's 'affirmed gender' isn't reinforcing gender stereotypes? 🙄

Ensure that support processes in policies are clear and understood. Be explicit that the school proactively teaches about gender and trans awareness, so that everyone is clear and proud of what it means to belong to your school community.

For further guidance a recommended resource is Brighton & Hove City Council and Allsorts Youth’s Project’s ‘Trans Inclusion Schools Toolkit’ (2017)

Hmmm....

FemaleAndLearning Sat 16-May-20 10:20:08

MY daughter, 10, is autistic. She is happy being a girl. I'm in a Facebook group for girls and I've been shot down for being gender critical as there are a few parents worried or supporting social transition. I keep going in a very objective way and always link to Transgender Trend giving the actual link otherwise you go to the pro trans site.
My understanding is that girls on the spectrum can find puberty extremely uncomfortable a d sensory issues will be involved particularly with breast development and bras and periids.

They don't like change so don't like being a girl. Also if they present more masculine because they like the feel of boys clothes and someone comments you must be trans and they go back and Google am I trans the answer wil probably be yes.

Couple this with obsessiveness once an idea gets into their head and the seed is sown they go for it full throttle.

A lot of girls in the group also seem to be into Japanese art, can't remember the name so not sure if this has an influence.

I think they are s very vulnerable group and there should be more research.

NeurotrashWarrior Sat 16-May-20 10:24:15

Manga? Yes many of the more able girls with asd I teach, many of whom spend a lot of time drawing, draw like that.

Yes Joe is a full on ideologist. The NAS site was dripping with it last time I looked.

NeurotrashWarrior Sat 16-May-20 10:31:13

Female, you've hit the nail on the head re change and periods etc.

I was always taken by watching an extremely good teacher who visits sen schools to do growing up talks, when talking to the boys about their penises growing stiff, that she really emphasised it will go back down.

She knew her stuff regarding children with autism and these details are important to them.

Killed me reading a post in a twinkle fb group around RSE and asd pupils; the school had a policy not to use words like girls and boys to not offend gender identities.

Pupils with asd must be given the clear facts. Apart from anything, they're more vulnerable to manipulation and abuse and need clarity about the world. Anyone who has done the proper social story course (all three days of it, equations and all) knows the whole point is to present facts and possibilities of outcome and prepare a person with honesty about a situation, and ease their anxiety and apprehension. Teaching about change is a key part of both SS and all of Gary Mesibov's work around schedules etc.

The pupil I taught knew he was a boy. Was happy being a boy; hated the restrictions put on him just because he was a boy. It's pure sexism.

NonnyMouse1337 Sat 16-May-20 10:34:08

FemaleAndLearning it's really great that you persist in sharing your gender critical views and links to Transgender Trend. I'm impressed you haven't been kicked out of the group. There will be parents who won't comment, but will lurk and read your exchanges and click on the links.

You're right about the discomfort and sensory issues once puberty kicks in... Menstruation is messy and unpredictable as you're figuring out how to deal with it all. Adolescence is all about change and uncertainty, and that's hard to come to terms with when you really hate change!

NonnyMouse1337 Sat 16-May-20 10:37:54

Yes Joe is a full on ideologist. The NAS site was dripping with it last time I looked.

Luckily the second link in the search results is to Mumsnet!
There's a thread from 2017 that I'm skimming through looking for any useful info.
www.mumsnet.com/Talk/womens_rights/3089956-Autism-and-Trans

0DETTE Sat 16-May-20 11:14:20

Thanks, 0DETTE. Have you come across any gender identity propaganda through your children, their peers or the groups they are in? Or are they old / young enough to have avoided this stuff for now?

My aspie kids are at high school and uni so sadly have encountered a lot of this stuff.

The one at uni is firmly GC and is well able to analyse the tripe that she hears socially . She’s studying biological sciences so no gender ideology there thank goodness. And she’s a very factual person, if that makes sense.

She plays a team sport and so far they’ve not had any issue with a male trying to spoil it for them. But I’m sure that’s only a matter of time.

My son who is at high school at school is slightly more gullible and sometimes takes the gender ideology as it’s sold to him. But he also likes science so is open when you ask searching questions.

He knows that people can’t change sex but like many boys( and men ) I think he’s in the “ well we should be nice and let these troubled and slightly crazy kids do what they want because it’s not harming anyone” camp.

When he means of course “ they are not harming me “.

On one hand, he has that aspie understanding of what it’s like to not fit it. But so far he’s not seen the harm this ideology does to girls, women and some GNC boys.

There’s some trans identifying kids in his school but it’s very low key. The school / local authority have chosen to deal with trans kids very quietly and I can only assume the parents are happy with this as there’s been no fuss.

The school have a lot of Muslim kids whose families would not be at all woke and would make a HUGE fuss if anything was done to compromise the privacy of their daughters.

The trans identifying kids use individual toilets and changing rooms. Interestingly the trans pupils so far are all girls. So of course there’s not that Male sense of entitlement.

My son is very gender conforming, likes science, engineering and gaming and he’s very sure he’s a boy and he fancies girls. He identifies more as a dyslexia science / engineering geek than anything else and he manages to seek out others kids like him as friends.

I think it’s much easier for straight aspie boys like him . His interest are more congruent with what is seen as appropriate by the gender Ideologists.

No one thinks he’s a girl because he wears baggy loose joggers and old t shirts out of school ( because of his sensory issues ). His minimal grooming ( it’s still an effort to get him to shower ) doesn't make him a girl.

Whereas girls who do the same are obviously boys, especially if they don’t want to wear make up, do their nails and style their hair. Especially
If they fancy other girls.

My son doesn’t care at all about being cool and fitting in - he knows that he never will. He doesn’t do social media for example.

However there’s much more social pressure on girls to fit it, to look right, post sexy selfies and get likes.

None of my sons friends talk about girls - they talk about gaming. So if he was gay it wouldn’t make much difference .

Whereas girls at that age are supposed to be focussed on getting a BF, because that’s all that matters as a girl. So a lesbian would feel much more left out and different.

JellySlice Sat 16-May-20 11:30:27

It's rough for late developers, especially girls. Their peers are getting interested in sex, going out, having relationships, even just talking about each other differently. And these girls, perfectly intelligent, often academically able, are still playing with their dolls and drawing pretty pictures. Being geeks in their own way, about things the other girls have left behind.

Whereas once the narrative would have been "You're still young, no need to rush, everything comes in its own time", now it is "If you're not interested being a stereotypical woman in the same way was other girls are, then you're clearly not a girl". Even if your interests are stereotypically girl! And woe betide the late developing girl who is into stereotypically boy things. Poor love, she hasn't got a hope if her support is internet-based.

0DETTE Sat 16-May-20 11:37:25

Interesting to ask who benefits from 13 girls not playing with dolls and drawing and instead getting hair extensions and posting half naked insta selfies.

Because I’m pretty sure it’s not girls and women.

0DETTE Sat 16-May-20 11:38:03

13 year old girls

JellySlice Sat 16-May-20 11:45:06

I'm not convinced that is a deliberate tactic TBH. I think these girls are collateral damage.

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