Autism & The Third Gender: Are autistic people more open to exploring gender identity?
Autism & The Third
Gender: Are autistic people
more open to exploring
BY LYDIA ANDAL, EDITOR OF THE NEW IDEALIST, AUTHOR OF 'AM I AUTISTIC? A GUIDE TO AUTISM
& ASPERGER'S SELF -DIAGNOSIS FOR ADULTS' AND 'HARPER'S HOLOGRAM'. CONTRIBUTOR TO
'BEING AUTISTIC' BY AUTANGEL
NOTE: THIS PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED FOR THE AUTISM SHOW, EVENT CITY ON 1ST JULY 2016
The Autism Issue:
Autism is a Difference not a Disorder
Gender Fluidity: The New Normal?
“It’s clear that people under a certain
age are much more comfortable not
just with same-sex relationships but
with bisexuality, gender-fluidity and all
sorts of other ways of living that fall
outside the traditional binaries of
straight and gay, male and female,”
Journalist Laurie Penny, who describes herself as bisexual and
What is The Third Gender?
If you ask three people what the Third Gender means, you will get three different responses.
Third Gender is generally used to mean those who are transgender, asexual, intersex or non-binary.
THIRD GENDER: TRANSGENDER
Most studies focus on those who report themselves as Transgender – those who have a gender identity, or gender expression, that differs
from their birth gender.
THIRD GENDER: ASEXUAL
Those who do not find people from any gender sexually attractive. Anecdotal research studies show a higher proportion of autistic people
reporting themselves as Asexual as opposed to non-autistic people, possibly due to an autistic lack of preference for being touched. Sex
therapist observed that many of his clients who report themselves as Asexual have strong autistic traits but they are unaware of this.
THIRD GENDER: INTERSEX
Those who are born with both male and female genitalia.
THIRD GENDER: NON-BINARY
Those who do not identify as either male or female – those who identify with the third way – the third gender that sits in between the two.
This is the main focus of this talk today.
Autism & The Third Gender
KEY RESEARCH FACTS FROM THE LAST 5 YEARS:
Between 8-10% of children and adolescents seen at
gender identity clinics around the world meet the clinical
diagnostic criteria for autism.
Approx. 20% of these children have autistic traits such as
impaired social and communication skills or intense focus
and attention to detail.
Between 2011-2013 more than 50% of 166 young people
referred to the London NHS Gender Identity Development
Clinic had autistic traits.
Widely reported only 1% of the world's population is
Are autistic people more open to exploring gender
Living Between Genders: Ollie's Story
Deborah Rudacille, University of Baltimore, April 2016
Living Between Genders: My Story
So Many Dresses...
School Orientation Day Meltdown:
No Dress Without Drama
The Native American Two-Spirit
Two-Spirit used by some Native Americans to
describe gender-variant individuals in their
In ancient Native American spirituality the
world wasn’t simply divided into male and
female the way it is in the Western world.
Many Native American cultures held places of
honour for people of integrated genders.
These people were well-respected. Being Two-
Spirited wasn't limited to sexuality. Some
tribes viewed Two-Spirits as having an ability
to move between two worlds – the spiritual
and the material.
The Native American Two-Spirit
Napêw iskwêwisêhot (nu-PAYO ihs-gwayo-WIH-say-hoht),
a man who dresses as a woman
Iskwêw ka napêwayat (ihs-GWAYO ga nu-PAYO-wuh-yut), a
woman dressed as a man
Ayahkwêw (U-yuh-gwayo), a man dressed/living/accepted
as a woman. Some have suggested this word can actually
be used as a ‘third’ gender of sorts, applied to women and
Inahpîkasoht (ee-nuh-PEE-gu-soot), a woman
dressed/living/accepted as a man. (also translated as
someone who fights everyone to prove they are the
Both male and female-bodied two-spirits have been
documented in over 130 North American tribes.
Harper's Hologram is about Harper, a 12 year old
orphan who could be considered similar to the Native
American 'Two Spirit'.
Harper is gender ambiguous and builds a hologram for
her school science project so that she can move
between worlds to find her mother who recently
Harper has some specific autistic traits although the
word autism is never mentioned in the book.
Kiyaya is a Native American character who is a kindred
spirit to Harper. Kiyaya is non-verbal. He does speak,
just not with words.
Published under my Birth Name: Niomi Dinah Christie
Have you heard of the Biblical story of 'Dinah' who
transformed from male to female in the womb just
Thank You For Watching
ADDITIONAL NOTES & LINKS TO THE RESEARCH DISCUSSED ARE AVAILABLE VIA
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Download Being Autistic free at: www.autangel.org.uk/being-autistic-book.html
Read The Autism Issue of The New Idealist Magazine free at www.thenewidealist.com
Watch the trailer for Harper's Hologram at www.harpershologram.com
Presentation by Lydia Andal