Today, the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, the National LGBTQ Task Force, and the National Center for Transgender Equality released a joint statement about the needs of transgender and gender non-conforming autistic people and launched a social media campaign with the hashtag #AutisticTransPride to highlight transgender autistic voices and leadership.
Earlier this year, Kayden Clarke, a young transgender man in Arizona, was killed by police responding to a mental health crisis that arose soon after his Asperger’s diagnosis was used to deny him access to transition-related care. The events that preceded Kayden’s tragic and preventable death were, sadly, not unique. Transgender autistic people are often denied the autonomy, recognition and respect they need to live according to their gender identity.
Misperceptions about what it means to be transgender or about autistic people’s ability to understand their gender or make decisions about their bodies often prompt service providers or family members to stand in the way of transgender autistic people’s attempts to live life with authenticity and dignity. This can include denying transgender autistic people access to transition-related care, subjecting them to “normalization” treatments aimed at suppressing their gender expression, or placing them in guardianship or institutional settings that restrict their decision-making power. While research suggests a large overlap between transgender and autistic communities, trans autistic people often lack access to services and supports that understand and respect all aspects of their identity.
This campaign aims to shed light on these barriers, and the work that transgender autistic people have been leading to win the life-saving rights and recognition we deserve. Transgender autistic people and allies are encouraged to share their story using the #AutisticTransPride hashtag.
“Too frequently, autistic people are denied basic rights to make decisions about our own bodies and health care, including when it comes to expressing our gender identity,” said Sam Crane, Legal Policy Director for the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network. “Whether we’re transgender or not, autistic people’s gender identities are as real as anyone else’s and should be respected and supported, not dismissed based on baseless stereotypes.”
“Denying people access to critical health care and services is dangerous and immoral, but it’s a reality for many transgender people,” said Harper Jean Tobin, Policy Director at the National Center for Transgender Equality. “For transgender people who are also disabled, those barriers are often exacerbated. Equal access to care for everyone, including transition-related care, saves lives.”
“As advocates for transgender equality and disability justice, our work needs to reflect the concerns and priorities of our full community, including those of transgender autistic people,” said Victoria Rodríguez-Roldán, the Transgender/Gender Non-Conforming Justice Project Director at the National LGBTQ Task Force. “We need to make sure that transgender people with disabilities like myself are empowered to lead our movements, and that’s what this campaign is all about.”
Read the Joint Statement here. For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.