Trans and Autistic: Gate-keeping kills

cyclone fence in shallow photography

CW: transphobia, gate-keeping, ableism, mental health crisis, police brutality, murder.

Lack of support and validation for trans Autistic children and adults can culminate in fatalities, such as the case of Kayden Clarke, an Autistic trans man who was murdered by police when they responded to his suicide call. Clarke had experienced gate-keeping throughout his transition, including a therapist who suggested that his autism needed ‘curing’ before he could begin medical transition (his videos can be seen on his YouTube channel here).

Kayden’s story highlights the consistent gate-keeping Autistic people experience when trying to access gender affirming healthcare (find more info here) – showing how HRT and other medical interventions are often dismissed as an ‘obsessive’ Autistic trait. Kayden’s story also emphasises the danger that Autistic trans people face from those in authority including armed police officers with little or no mental health training. Even when police officers are trained in mental health they are often the only community resource called upon for mental health crisis incidents.

During these instances the police are responsible for recognising the need for mental health treatment or determining whether a person’s illegal activity should have them arrested. Unfortunately, many of the decisions are paired with police officers using force – often deadly force – against someone who is actively experiencing a mental health episode. This uncertainty and brute force can cause further risks of mental health and chronic illness for trans Autistic people, and in some cases it can be fatal.

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

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