In 2020 I started my MRes at University of Portsmouth, researching trans and / or non-binary Autistic narratives. I wanted to make my work free and accessible to as many people as possible. Participants have given informed consent for me to publish this information, all identities will be kept confidential in line with UoP’s ethics guidelines and GDPR.
- How do trans and / or non-binary Autistic people express their own intersecting identities?
- To what extent can narrative methodology enable gender variant Autistic voices to be heard?
- What recommendations would Autistic gender divergent people give to improve research which explores this intersection?
Collecting and disseminating real life experiences allows participants to become self-advocates, showing others that it is okay – and often wonderful – to be different (Yergeau, 2018). Sharing these accounts allows researchers to create more critical understandings of autism and gender identity, creating recommendations for more appropriate and inclusive practice (Davidson & Tamas, 2016).
I used a biographic narrative method of investigation (Wengraf, 2001) to interview 12 participants about their experiences as a trans and / or non-binary Autistic person. The interview transcripts were thematically analysed (Braun & Clarke, 2006) this helped me to understand how narrative methodology could raise trans Autistic voices, outlining recommendations for future work.
Five main themes were found:
1. Mental health: trauma, substance use, toxic relationships.
2. Relationships: difficulty maintaining friendships, chosen family.
3. Aspirations: gender affirming surgeries, further study, adopting children.
4. Employment: burnout, part time, following creative interests.
5. Recommendations for future work on trans Autistic experiences.
Recommendations for future work:
- Talk to more trans Autistic people who are willing to share their stories.
- Talk to people from different age groups.
- Inclusion of non-binary Autistic people.
- Research the intersection of trans and Autistic identities with having chronic illness.
Find out more about trans Autistic experiences in my articles: Exploring the experiences of Autistic transgender and non-binary adults in seeking gender identity healthcare.Stories from under the double rainbow – trans and non-binary Autistic narratives
Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2021). Thematic analysis: A practical Guide. Sage.
Davidson, J., & Tamas, S. (2016). Autism and the ghost of gender. Emotion, Space and Society, (19), 59-65.
Wengraf, T. (2001). Qualitative social interviewing: biographic narrative and semi-structured methods. Sage Publications.
Yergeau, M. (2018). Authoring autism. Duke University Press.