“They Thought It Was an Obsession”: Trajectories and Perspectives of Autistic Transgender and Gender-Diverse Adolescentsedit
Despite research exploring autism in gender-diverse adolescents, no studies have elicited these individuals’ perspectives. In-depth interviews with 22 well-characterized autistic gender-diverse adolescents revealed critical themes, including: recollections of pre-pubertal gender nonconformity; vivid experiences of gender dysphoria; a fear of social gender expression due to perceived animosity toward transgender people; and specific challenges that result from the interplay of gender diversity and neurodiversity. During the ~ 22 month study social gender affirmation increased in six participants and gender dysphoria attenuated in four participants. Given the ethical imperative to understand and prioritize the voiced perspectives and needs of autistic gender minority adolescents as well as the discovery of shared themes and experiences in this population, results should inform clinical research approaches and priorities.