Q is for queer. What’s that got to do with autism and being autistic you may wonder. Well as it turns out a significant amount. Large portions of the autistic community identify on the LGBTIQA+ umbrella. There are quite a lot of us that are autistic and queer.
Recent studies show empirical data that 35% of autistic folk are queer. Anecdotally many of us believe this is a conservative result and believe that the real number is somewhat higher than this. Whether we are correct on that belief or not is not that important because we already know that the intersection of autism and queerness has a high prevalence. A much higher prevalence than for the non autistic community.
Why does this matter? It matters for a bunch of reasons. Not least because it places us in a situation of being twice marginalised, twice oppressed and fighting for our human rights in multiple domains.
Lots of ink has been marked in hand wringing asking questions about why this is so and whether this is just an interesting correlation or is there something more significant that has created this human situation.
I don’t know the answer, sure it is interesting to speculate that perhaps the same genes and epigenetic factors are in play. Maybe that’s true maybe that’s not true, interesting but not really that important.
What is important is how queer autistic folk are able to make our way in the world and have the best life possible. That’s the important piece here. In the end we are autistic folk who are queer here and refuse to live in fear.
Autistic folk struggle for self determination. We struggle to see a reality of nothing about us without us. We struggle to see our lived experience, our insight and our insider knowledge about what autism really is like recognised by both the professional and the parent communities around the autism space.
Queer folk struggle also for self determination. Just recently in Brunei we have seen a horrendous law of the death penalty by stoning come into play. Bi+ folk are regularly and consistenly erased and told they are selfish, promiscuous, undecided, just not decided and equally horendous things. Trans folk are forced into sterilisation in order to simply have their identification documents reflect their correct gender. Non-Binary folk are continually told they are deluded. Asexual folk are almost completely erased from visibility. Some of these issues occur not just from those outside the queer spectrum but within it.
Living as a queer person is hard. We are subjected to people deciding on the validity of our existence throughout the world on a regular basis.
Living as an autistic person is hard. We are subjected to actions designed to fundamentally change us. We are subjected to a public narrative that people must be aware of us. Whenever a lone gunman shooting occurs we are subjected to the shooter being said to be autistic in the media.
Living as a queer autistic person has the combinations of those difficulties, they are compounded and then there is the unique difficulties that come with those thing. For example trans autistic folk being denied care because their identity is declared invalid and simply a special interest. Other queer identities who are autistic find similar discarding of their identity by professionals and family because they are not seen as able to have adequate self determination of themselves.
Being a queer autistic also makes moving between those communities as a queer autistic person is also difficult at times. We face accessibility issues accessing queer spaces due to a range of different circumstances, some are ableism, some are sensory factors, some are ignorance. Being queer in autistic space can also be difficult due to the predominance of cis straight and mostly white men who are dominant vocal and powerful in those spaces.
You would think that our access to autistic spaces would be easier given there are a lot of us. Well things are on the improve I think, but cis white male homophobic and transphobic views are still certainly in play.
Q is for Queer.
I’m a queer autistic person and I am fabulous.
Q is for queer
We’re queer we’re here and we will not live in fear!