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Dots
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30 Sep 2011, 4:15 pm

This thread has come out of the "Abnormal Psych class and Autism" thread. Callista talked about how guys tend to be more at the extreme ends while girls cluster in the middle, because boys only have one X chromosome so traits are more strongly expressed. Also about how girls tend to be better at writing and speaking and can sometimes evade diagnosis.

This was my reply, which I decided to turn into a seperate thread, because it was getting off the topic of my psych class, and I'd like to have a discussion about how being transgender could interact with autism. This is what I posted.

The gender difference is of interest to me, as a transgender person.

I'm finding it easier to socialize as a male now that I've started transitioning in that direction. Not as much social grace is expected of me.

I wish I could have been raised male, but I guess being raised female tried to train some social skills into me. They never came naturally though, and nowadays when I'm quiet and withdraw a little in social situations I'm perceived more as the 'strong, silent type' instead of 'some weird girl who isn't like the rest of us'.

What's interesting is that now that I am perceived as male around other people, I feel comfortable enough in social situations to risk socializing sometimes, even though often I still make awkward blunders.

So am I autistic, or am I just someone who was raised as the wrong gender? That's what I wonder.

I was assigned female at birth. I've never been tested to see if I have an intersex condition, but physically, I developed normally as a girl, so I will assume that I have two X chromosomes. Now that people believe I am male, I am much more comfortable. But I still have sensory issues, social deficits (though those have been getting slowly better as I age), need for routine, trouble with body language and eye contact. One symptom I really identified with that my professor mentioned was that many autistic children didn't use body language or gestures to accompany their speech. I still rarely use gestures or body language. I am in love with theatre and enjoy acting roles, but it's hard for me to get cast because I am stiff and don't act with my body.

Ok, now I'm just ranting random stuff. The question is, how do you think autism and transgender issues interact?


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Willard
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30 Sep 2011, 4:46 pm

Redacted.



Last edited by Willard on 01 Oct 2011, 8:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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30 Sep 2011, 4:53 pm

The percentage of autistic people who are transgender is actually much higher than the percentage of people in the overall population who are transgender. I don't know how they're related but I can tell you that there seems to be one.



Ambivalence
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30 Sep 2011, 5:02 pm

Pretty sure chromosomes don't work like that, Dots.

Willard wrote:
I can't imagine how they interact, but I don't think there's any connection between the two.

Funny how there are so many of us who are both autistic and transgender then - to the point that this question is frequently raised. We would love to know.


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Dots
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30 Sep 2011, 5:07 pm

Chromosomes don't work like what?

And I'm wondering if other transgender people feel more comfortable socially as they transition? If I had been born male and raised male, would I have been diagnosed? Or do my problems come from being raised as a gender that is incongruent with my own identity?


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30 Sep 2011, 5:15 pm

Have you read Tony Attwood's "The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome"? The part that I remembered occurs on pp 80-81, and is about stage three of friendship among children in general, when boys play with boys and girls play with girls, and each group learning the socialization and behavior patterns normal to their gender, from each other. He says that Aspie boys are often welcomed by the girls, who feel sorry for them because they are usually either bullied or just plain left out, not being very good at the sports skills, (same ball-catching and other team actions I've mentioned before) and the last ones chosen for the team. Later, this can be bad for them in high school, because what they have learned at this stage is "girl-behavior", and they're accused of being gay, etc. Meanwhile, Aspie girls, who aren't ready for this kind of friendship, "may be critical of their peers for enjoying affection and feeling games, and for talking about whom they like or dislike for reasons that seem to be illogical or untrue.... the activities of boys can be interesting and based on physical activities rather than emotions. She may be interested in, and then 'adopted' or recruited by, a group of boys. She becomes known as a 'tomboy', with male friends who are more tolerant of someone who has 'come over to their side'; and once again, if she is unsure what to do in a social situation, she is likely to experience support, not ridicule -- 'She's a girl, she wouldn't understand. But that's ok, we don't mind'". There's too much to type there, but it might be interesting to find the book. It's out in paperback now, too.

He goes on to suggest that adults/teachers intervene to equalize the balance to some extent. But I wonder whether the root of the phenomenon might happen at this stage. I suspect HFA might operate the same way.



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30 Sep 2011, 5:35 pm

Dots wrote:
Chromosomes don't work like what?

The way Callista suggests. Too simplistic.
Quote:
And I'm wondering if other transgender people feel more comfortable socially as they transition?

From a very limited experience of trying to pass, massively more comfortable with socialisation, but not any better at it.


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30 Sep 2011, 6:03 pm

Dots wrote:
I was assigned female at birth. I've never been tested to see if I have an intersex condition, but physically, I developed normally as a girl, so I will assume that I have two X chromosomes.


Chromosomes do work like that. An X paired with a Y, XY, makes a boy. XX makes a girl. There are quite a few people around with three chromosomes in that position, an abnormality. XXX may be super-feminine, and XXY can make a woman with masculine traits. I am not sure that I remember what XYY looks like. Some star women athletes (who look like girls and have been raised as girls) have tested XXY, and now at the Olympic level, and I'm not sure how far down, they're testing for this, and those poor girls aren't allowed to compete in women's events.

http://anthro.palomar.edu/abnormal/abnormal_5.htm



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30 Sep 2011, 6:09 pm

Sibyl wrote:
He goes on to suggest that adults/teachers intervene to equalize the balance to some extent. But I wonder whether the root of the phenomenon might happen at this stage. I suspect HFA might operate the same way.


This seems unlikely. Research into the subject has found neurological differences in transgender people. There's no reason autistic transgender people would be any different.

Also, there's a study that I need to dig up that involved screening all of the transgender clients in a particular area/at a particular clinic for autism, and they found that 6% of the clients were autistic.



Dots
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30 Sep 2011, 6:22 pm

Part of me wishes I was XXY because then my parents might accept that I'm trans, if there was a genetic reason for it. But I had normal menses before I started male hormone therapy and I think I read somewhere that XXY "females" never menstruate. I had a high testosterone level on my initial labs before I started hormone therapy, but my doctor didn't see fit to test me for anything.

Ambivalence, I've felt much more comfortable with socialization since I started passing as a guy, but I don't know if I'm any better at it. I'm still quiet and don't know how to start conversations, or when I do, I end up doing it awkwardly - but I do feel like at least trying to be social now, while before I just didn't want to. I have friends this school year, for the first time in a few years.

And my psych prof gave the same chromosome explanation, that boys only had 1 X chromosome so they were more susceptible to disorders involving the X chromosome/traits that came from the X chromosome would be more fully expressed since they weren't being diluted with a second X chromosome.


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30 Sep 2011, 6:39 pm

"I will assume that I have two X chromosomes" Dots Please do not assume get that test done.
And have a mri done that could show the percent of male vs female type brain. You might have a female body but a male brain.



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30 Sep 2011, 6:44 pm

I believe that I do have a female body but a male brain. That was my understanding of what transgender is. And while there may never be a good enough "bottom surgery" in my lifetime, I will eventually get "top surgery" and make my body as male as I can.

Is there a reason for a potentially expensive genetic test? I will most likely not be genetically reproducing, seeing as I am a man, wish to marry a woman, but do not have the ability to father children. Potential health problems? Neither my family doctor nor my endocrinologist saw a reason to test me.


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30 Sep 2011, 7:02 pm

I know someone who is transgender and probably is autistic as well (sensory issues, eye contact problems, very serious ADHD symptoms, etc). I'd be very interesting to know if there was a relationship between the two.

As for myself, I just don't feel terribly gendered at all. My body is female, but I don't really know what that's actually supposed to mean. I never fit in with other girls, but I don't wish that I'd been born a guy either. I just never felt like I belonged to any group at all.


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Dots
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30 Sep 2011, 9:34 pm

Verdandi wrote:
Also, there's a study that I need to dig up that involved screening all of the transgender clients in a particular area/at a particular clinic for autism, and they found that 6% of the clients were autistic.


6/100 transgender people fit the criteria for an ASD? That's huge compared to the general population.


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30 Sep 2011, 9:36 pm

There seems to be a slightly higher percentage of transgendered people in the Aspie population.

Whether there is some sort of biological link between the two is unknown. In any case, I suspect Aspies are much less likely to absorb the surrounding social "culture."

Much of what constitutes "gender" is arbitrary.


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01 Oct 2011, 2:37 am

Dots wrote:
Verdandi wrote:
Also, there's a study that I need to dig up that involved screening all of the transgender clients in a particular area/at a particular clinic for autism, and they found that 6% of the clients were autistic.


6/100 transgender people fit the criteria for an ASD? That's huge compared to the general population.


Specifically, transgender people who seek social transition along with medical interventions. I suspect the number of gender non-conforming autistic people is probably higher.