20160419-DeepDive-844-2When I was researching The Riddle of Gender more than a decade ago, one of my sources mentioned the large number of trans women who were computer geeks. That was long before people started casually referring to themselves or others being “on the spectrum” so I thought nothing of it. But then I started hearing from friends in PFLAG and elsewhere that they were seeing an increasing number of gender non-conforming kids on the autism spectrum. So when my former colleagues at the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) asked me to look into the overlap between autism and transgender identity, I was interested. My story about kids, teens and adults with autism who identify as trans, genderqueer or non-binary was published by Spectrum in mid-April and reprinted in Curve Magazine later that month. While I was reporting the story, the state of North Carolina passed the infamous “bathroom bill” which puts all trans people, but especially those on the spectrum, at much higher risk of harassment and assault. As Jes Grobman points out, “We need to create an understanding of the validity of trans experience and autistic experience,” Grobman says. “You are fighting for your own existence.”

Photo credit. J.M. Giordano