A while ago, I heard the term “autigender” being used on tumblr, and my original thought was “this is silly/ridiculous.”
After doing some reading, I learned that autigender isn’t a gender or gender identity, but rather, how one’s view of gender is affected by autism.
CandidlyAutistic on tumblr says “Autigender is not explicitly saying that “My gender is autism” – it’s not about saying you are a boy, girl, enby, autism, whatever. It’s about your relationship with your gender.”
I think their post is a good start on describing autigender, but I would argue some of the terminology used. CandidlyAutistic goes on to say
“Specifically, gender is a social construct. The primary deficit of autism includes difficulties interpreting and understanding social constructions. This means that we have a disability that inherently makes understanding gender part of our disability.
Because of this, we can have exceptionally complicated and unique understanding of what gender is, how it affects us, and how we express gender.”
I think using wording such as “deficit” and describing us as not understanding gender can be a bit problematic, and can easily be used against us. Specifically, if an autistic person is trans, nonbinary, etc, they already are more likely to face doubt and stigma because of being autistic.
“Oh, she’s autistic and easily influenced.”
“He can’t really know his gender, he’s autistic.”
“They don’t know any better.”
Those kinds of statements make the assumption that we’re too simple to understand gender, whereas it’s moreso the opposite.
I think being autistic personally expands many of our views of social constructs like gender and sexuality. Rather than not understanding it as a concept, we are able to see beyond the binaries and boxes society tries to define itself in. I think part of this is due to the fact that we are on a spectrum, and we’re able to see many things in life that are spectrums that others only see in black and white. (Yes, this is ironic with the stereotype that we see the world in black and white, but that’s a blog for another day).
I also want to mention that I think Candidly Autistic is a great blogger. I just didn’t feel 100% comfortable sharing their post without my personal views on the matter.
I’m still unsure how I feel about auti-gender as a term. I think being autistic gives us many relationships with social constructs and we don’t inherently owe people an explanation for why we don’t see gender the same way as neurotypicals. I don’t feel it necessary for myself to identify as autigender because I believe I have other factors in my perception of gender, and also that many folk who are not autistic can have similar feelings about gender. However, many find comfort in this word and explanation and that should be respected.
I’m sorry if this post was a bit convoluted. I recently had a discussion with another autistic person who identifies as a demigirl, which, for us, falls into the gray area of not inherently feeling strict adherence to cis womanhood, but also not inherently feeling “not cis” or trans. She brought up the topic of her autism influencing her, and many other’s, view of gender, and I found myself re-reading some posts.
I think the most important takeaway, is that there is a complex relationship between those who are already outside of binaries and the view of other binaries. Autigender, in my opinion, is more of an adjective to gender, rather than a gender itself. A similar example would be the words “cis” or “trans.” Cis and trans are not genders. They describe your relationship with gender. “Auti” functions in a similar manner. You can say you’re a girl, boy, enby, etc, without having to explain your adjective in relation to that gender, or you can.