Autism Features Non-binary

Trans and Autistic: Navigating several social transitions

I find correcting people very difficult – it feels like another part of myself I must defend, another part I must explain to others constantly for a slither of recognition.

by Katie Munday

Social transitioning looks different for different people, some people change their pronouns, their name, what they wear, how they talk and carry themselves. Some of us don’t know where or how to begin, or whether we even need to go through any social transition at all. For me, social transition was made more complicated by my late realisation of being Autistic (see Trans and Autistic: A Girl in Name Only). My diagnosis gave me a new appreciation, understanding and acceptance of myself. Once I understood more about my neurocognition (the way I think and experience the world) there was still this blurry area of gender I needed to unpick and with that, what my social transition might look like.

The realisation of my genderqueer-ness was not sudden, it took years of introspection, of trying to align myself with others and often not quite matching. My behaviour, expression, communication and interests were a mishmash of masculinity and femininity – I did not fit in either box. I grew to understand that this mismatch was not a moral failing, I simply could not fit into these gender boxes; they were not made for me. When I began my social transition I was still figuring out how I wanted to be understood by people I care about, and the wider world.

Conversations around my social transition began with my husband – firstly I asked how he would feel if I transitioned, then what this could mean about his identity and how we understood our relationship. My husband has been a huge support throughout my gender awakening and he’s taken to my new pronouns like a pro. He often corrects others and makes sure that I am respected with gender neutral sayings wherever we go. To be honest, he is much better at correcting others on my pronouns than I am. I find correcting people very difficult – it feels like another part of myself I must defend, another part I must explain to others constantly for a slither of recognition. There’s a part of me that wishes people would just ‘get it’ or at least stop making excuses for consistently getting my pronouns wrong.

Some of their confusion stems around me looking the same and dressing the same way as I did before I socially transitioned. I am very particular about the clothing I wear, as I have issues with certain materials, clothes which cling to me, and long trousers. My wardrobe is reminiscent of a Disney character – wearing the same outfit most days, although they do range in colour! My clothing choices are part of my Autistic routine, they are my comfort clothes, they take away another choice I must make throughout the day so I can focus that energy elsewhere.

Also, clothes shopping is a sensory nightmare with bright lights, loads of people and busy shops. I hate being asked if I want help from shop assistants (usually whilst being cheerily misgendered). Finding clothes in my size is difficult, especially when sizes used in men’s and women’s clothing are different. And I’m not going into a small sweaty changing room to check before I buy anything. So far my clothing hasn’t changed and they’re very unlikely to, some days I leave the house in my pyjamas. It’s okay, I make it work.

I also haven’t changed my name or my gender markers. I’m Katie and Katie is me; it doesn’t matter that it is not a gender-neutral name, it just matters that it is mine. I would like to change my gender markers and go by Mx but experiencing the awful bureaucratic processes for applying for disability support, and the faff of changing my second name after getting married, is enough to put me off this process.

Despite the things I haven’t changed and being constantly misgendered, I am so happy to be out as my real self. I appreciate the privilege I have to be able to do this and that is why I continue to share my story and use my platform to demystify some of our experiences. I hope to be a little spark of hope for other Autistic gender diverse people. We hold such amazing insight and power in our intersecting identities, we owe it to ourselves to be as authentic as we can within the safety we are granted.

Katie is a white non-binary person with short hair and glasses

Katie Munday is a queer Autistic advocate, activist and community researcher. They are a prolific blogger on their website Autistic and Living the Dream

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