T O P I C R E V I E W
Member # 93241
posted 07-28-2012 07:03 PM
This is probably a bit of an odd topic, really, but it's something that does worry me a little bit.
Over the past month or so, I've been questioning my gender ID, and I've realised that I'm genderfluid (possibly bigender) between being a Girlfag and being Agendered. And I'm happy with that, and I can't wait for when I move out in September to see if I can start exploring these concepts further. I'm not out as either of these things, but I don't mind, since it's not something that massively impacts my life. However, in the last few days, I've been officially diagnosed as having Asperger's Syndrome. This didn't really come as a surprise - my parents have been suspecting it for years, and most of my behaviour does tick all the boxes (although not in ways that most people would guess - I don't stim, for one, and I don't mind SOME routine changes, but otherwise it fits). And in a way, this diagnosis could be great for me - I've always felt like something "other", like I'm inherently not normal, and this explains why. The reason I'm mentioning this, though, is the fact that I know for a fact that if I come out as being genderqueer, then people are going to view it as a symptom of my AS. I know they will. My mum's already tried to tell me that my demisexuality is caused by my AS, so I know other people would do the same. It really doesn't help that I've heard that, especially in girls with AS, non-binary gender identities are more common in people with AS than it is in people without it. So immediately, anyone who knows that piece of information is going to think "Oh, so THAT'S why she's genderqueer! That explains everything!" I personally don't know if my AS is the cause for my non-conventional gender or sexuality, and I personally don't care. Even if it IS the cause, that doesn't make it any less valid. Except that I know that some people would say that it IS less valid, that it's something that can be gotten rid of by therapy like all the other things that are wrong with me. If something's seen as abnormal, then they're going to find a cause, and it just happens that I have the perfect "cause" for it already. So I feel, when I go to university in a few month's time, that I basically have a choice to make: Either come out as having AS, and be able to explain my problems and sometimes odd behaviour, or come out as genderqueer and be able to actively explore my gender. I don't feel like I can do both, because my gender would be written off as a quirk resulting from my AS. The same goes for being demisexual. I just don't really know what I'm going to do about this.
Member # 41657
posted 08-06-2012 12:34 PM
I totally get what you're talking about, I am bisexual and agender (with a little bit of genderqueer perhaps), and I am autistic (I have aspergers syndrome), and I have felt like people assumed that my queerness was just a manifestation of my aspergers before, in fact I have felt like people assumed a lot of things about me were results of my aspergers before, like my politics, my interest in animation and comics, the fact that I don't think my parents' parenting was acceptable (and of course you get people who will hear about some awful, abusive thing my parents did and then say "well it must have been so hard raising a child with your problems"). I don't really know what advice to give.
Member # 31388
posted 08-10-2012 12:50 AM
I'm in a similar situation - being Bi, Trans, and an autie. I'm still trying to figure out words right now, but there is at least one site I know for Queer/LGBT autistics.
Member # 79214
posted 08-14-2012 12:03 AM
I totally understand your concerns. I'm genderqueer, asexual, and on the autistic spectrum. It can be really tough to feel like you have to come out as more than one thing. But then again, it's not like you have a certain amount of coming-out cards and once you use them up, you're out of luck. Personally, I don't come out to anyone and everyone about all my identities. You're under no obligation to come out. Most of my close friends though, know that I'm both asexual and autistic (although they might have varying understandings of what that means). If someone is a true friend, then they should be interested in getting to know you better, and understanding these kinds of things about you. Also, sometimes I will say stuff about myself without really coming out as anything specific, like, "Just so you know, I am really sensitive to noise" or "I have trouble focusing on more than one thing at a time". When I first got diagnosed, I had the urge to tell everyone (even though I didn't). Now that urge has mostly passed. So, in terms of stress over coming out, I think it does get easier with time. Usually I just act like everyone already knows everything about me, even if they don't, and if someone wants an explanation I'll give it to them
Member # 79774
posted 08-29-2012 07:50 PM
Derpy Hooves, as a cis woman and neurotypical, anything I have to say is of limited help, but just in case it's slightly helpful anyway:
It's possible this might be slightly better than you think. I absolutely recognise that the difficulty you're talking about is a very real thing, and it's rubbish that it's like that. What I wanted to say was that this might depend a bit on the atmosphere at your university. There are a whole lot of clueless people everywhere, of course, but at least at some unis there's a little more openness to difference and variation than in the world in general. People often find that starting uni is a good opportunity to be/do something a bit new, whether that's being more open and obvious about an identity, or not feeling the need to have to declare that identity any more. It really is up to you how you go about this, and it's also ok if you're not really sure before you actually get there and see how things feel. If you're thinking about being open about being genderfluid, you might like to explore your uni's LGBT society. These certainly vary in how open and clued-up they are about trans* and genderqueer people, but my impression is that overall they're likely to be a little more queer-oriented than GL oriented, and if they don't seem to be all that clued-up it's more likely that they haven't had knowledgeable people to put them right and that they'd quite like to change that. Something I've noticed (though this may vary wildly for all I know) is that more queer-oriented groups can be a bit better than average with other differences and non-standard identities, so there's a possibility that an LGBT society that seemed an ok fit for you gender-wise might feel ok with regards your Asperger's, too - whether you declare it or not. Also, if people aren't broken in what they think about non-binary genders, then they're probably not going to think of your gender as something "peculiar" which requires an explanation, so would be less likely to link your gender and Asperger's in a way you don't want. My very best wishes in figuring out what works best for you, and I hope you enjoy uni!
Member # 90293
posted 09-25-2012 06:23 PM
Hey Derpy Hooves,
Just glancing through this thread and wondering how you're doing. How are things going at school, both in general and related to your AS and your gender identity?
Member # 93241
posted 09-28-2012 01:16 PM
Okay, an update:
I'm in university now (got into my uni of choice! ), so I have the capacity to both explore being genderqueer (again, not being too absolute about any labels right now, but I'm fairly certain about them at this point) and getting help for the elements of my AS that most bother me in my day-to-day life. I decided that the girlfag label is the one for me (I decided that actually, I was confusing being agendered with a strong feeling of gender apathy which comes and goes - it's less about not having a gender and more about not caring), although I've not come out to anyone as it yet. I think I'd reserve it for very close friends and romantic partners only, it's not something the general population needs to know. I'm hoping to save up some money and buy a breast binder so that I can try and express this, but at the moment I'm okay with how things are. I've mentioned to a few close friends that I want to crossdress (some of the female friends I said this too just replied that they did too, which is pretty cool), and I even joked last night, when someone at the anime society joked that we should make a male host club, that I'd be one of their hosts, saying that I could cross-dress and do that. They shook my hand like "Good job, sir," not realising that I wasn't joking, and I was happy. With my AS, though, it's really hit me hard over the fact that I count as a disabled person. In the eyes of all my teachers, my in-uni help, the local council, even my family, I'm a disabled person now, and it's taking me a while to get my head around this. I will eventually, but right now, I feel like that stigma that comes with invisible disability is making it impossible for me to talk freely and openly about my AS. I hate that I've internalised such thoughts, but it really bothers me that I'm a disabled person now, and that just...yeah, it bothers me. I think I'll get better with this the more I use the term, though. I made a big public thing on facebook alerting all the people who didn't know that I have AS, and the reaction was pretty positive, so yeah, that's getting better. At no point, so far, have these issues had the chance to cross over or interact with each other. So right now, I'm just going along with it and I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. [ 09-28-2012, 01:19 PM: Message edited by: Derpy Hooves ]
Member # 3
posted 09-28-2012 01:51 PM
This all sounds like really good stuff!
Some of it challenging and frustrating, for sure, and not at all easy to sort through and deal with. But it sounds like you're doing a pretty tremendous job grappling with and managing two really big things here.
Member # 79774
posted 09-28-2012 03:12 PM
Hi Derpy Hooves, congrats on getting into uni! And I'm so glad it's going well.
I have a few thoughts about the disability stuff. Do feel very free to leave any of it that doesn't feel right to you, though, because this stuff is so individual. Your AS diagnosis is still very recent, so it makes total sense that you'd still be working out what that means to you, let alone how the rest of the world comes into it. Apart from a very few people who grow up in a specific disability-positive culture, I think next to nobody wants to be disabled, because our society as a whole frames disability as a bad thing to be. Often, we're not even given the framework of thoughts or words to look at it any other way - so I think you can cut yourself some serious slack about having some hard feelings about disability. It's really, really not surprising that you've internalised some of that stuff. It can be kind of annoying and awkward to feel like there's this "disability" label permeating everything we do, and I think that's partly why some people reject a disabled ID for themself. I'd say that, again, it's the standard framing that's wrong, because disability isn't this hugely separate super-special thing, it's a collection of infinite different ways of being different to how society in general expects. I don't know how much you're aware of yet, or whether you're even interested in looking at things at all, but I thought it was worth mentioning that some folk with AS don't consider themselves disabled. My understanding is that this is about framing their experiences differently: they're challenging the standard concept of how humans are "supposed" and expected to think and respond, saying that they can function perfectly well as themselves, it's just that a whole lot of other people don't understand when AS folk don't meet their expectations. I think it's about saying that the problem is entirely with other people's expectations. Of course, plenty of people with AS do consider themselves disabled, because the barriers and access problems people with AS can encounter are entirely fitting with an experience of disability. As a neurotypical person myself, I have absolutely no stake in a disabled/not disabled viewpoint, broadly understand the reasons and framework for both, and respect any individual person's ID. Wherever you're at with your own personal feelings and identification regarding disability, I do suggest strongly that you use the label to your benefit regarding uni stuff. Still too commonly, society in general and unis just don't do well enough at making adaptions that people need. There's a legal framework in the UK now for not disadvantaging disabled people, and unis should have guidelines and requirements in place. The word "disability" can be a powerful and effective tool for getting people to actually take notice and do something about giving you the adaptions you need. I often had the impression that I had to stuff the word "disability" in people's faces before they remembered that there were things they were supposed to do for me, before they even realised that the adaptions I was asking for were required under the disability policy and not just some hopeful request they could turn down. Maybe this next bit is not very relevant to you, but maybe it is, so I'll ramble anyway. I don't remember so clearly now, but I think at least up to my pre-teens, I wasn't that keen on the word or concept "disability". I guess I was affected by the usual negative framing of it. I didn't want to be different, less-good. But no matter what I think, what I do, it became pretty obvious to me that the inescapable fact is that my interactions with people are significantly affected. I could either be a dysfunctional, ineffective "normal" person who missed out on a lot of things, or I could be a disabled person - a person who was highly capable and accomplished, but who had some different needs and methods because of a physical fact about my body. I chose to be a disabled person, and I haven't looked back. For me, claiming disability is a place of great strength, happiness and Ability. For me, claiming disability acknowledges that something about me works a bit differently to most other people, and that I have different needs and experiences because of it, and that that's all ok. It's a route to freedom and achievement. The basics clicked pretty quickly in my early teens, but it took years and years for me to learn how to better advocate for myself, to learn to recognise all the ways that other people were refusing my requests or assuming I wasn't disabled, and learn that I had the right to be strong about that and demand better, and how best to go about it. I certainly still don't have all the answers, and I never will. (If it hasn't been clear so far, just to say explicitly, my disability is invisible.) I'm sorry that you're feeling the pressure of stigma. The world's a bit rubbish sometimes, isn't it. I am very happy to hear that your facebook announcement went well - go you! - and that people's reactions have been positive. That's encouraging
Member # 93241
posted 09-28-2012 08:46 PM
I didn't use the disabled label before, because I didn't think it effected me enough that I "counted" as disabled. It effects how I interact, yes, and it's a problem, but I don't act like how most people would expect a person with AS to act. I thought of it as an "impairment" rather than a disability, because I felt like comparing the severity of my problems to someone who's problems are more severe than mine would be like comparing someone who needs glasses with a blind person.
But I understand what you've said, and I'll take it on board and think it over. Because I don't want to be ashamed at the idea, and I want to be able to think "I'm considered to be disabled" without cringing.