trans-womanhood, autism, and trauma

A book I need to finish is Asperger's Children. A book so explicitly anti-diagnostic sounds almost too good to be true: there is a problem, even among leftists, where diagnostic criteria comes before something so superficial and ~cultural~ as gender identity. A particularly "woke" strain of this (held by a trans woman i met on tumblr) is that autistic trans women are transitioning either as an androgynous rejection of gender roles, or as an autistic hyperfixation on gender categories, and that this isn't so much of an issue as is the fact that we need to to destroy these categories anyway.

Gender is traumatic, and this is where the autism connection begins. To be diagnosed as autistic requires acting traumatized, to the extent that some won't differentiate between their C-PTSD and autism diagnoses. It is entirely possible that there are autistic traits that are inherited, but the constant trauma of, say, specific food sensitivities not being accommodated could also easily (and less mystifyingly) contribute to our behavior as autistics. Even if the story is bigger than this, it remains that the inheritable autism would look very different in a world where autistics weren't so systematically mistreated.

With the understanding that autistic behavior is also, diagnostically speaking, traumatized behavior, it becomes a lot easier to make the opposite argument: that we've been traumatized, and diagnosed, because of our sex. But it remains that gender-essentialist transness and essentializing medical diagnoses actually come from the exact same place: psychiatry.

There just seems to be antagonism by psychiatrists towards LGBT people in general. Are psychiatrists still bitter that they can no longer, by virtue of our sex, declare us mentally ill criminals? It cannot be entirely in bad faith: many of the therapists and psychiatrists began with the intention to do no harm. But to desire to help others through applied psychology is a desire to use a system also of control and invalidation. A patient who resists this system -- the tool they've been using to help and save so many -- for what it is would come across as a petulant child who refuses to take their medicine. This is just one of the ways sympathy is used to be violent.

In psychiatric dismissals of gender identity, comes the implication that one's trans status is a consequence of trauma. Why is unclear. It's fairly obviously the case that trans women experience trauma due to the abuse we get for being trans women - in adulthood as well as childhood, in our adolescence or in our second puberties. Yet psychiatrists continue to use trauma as an excuse to invalidate gender identity, also using diagnoses such as autism or psychosis. When queer theorists go on to argue that experiencing these have gendered consequences, and make themselves out to be woke and gender-abolitionist, they can actually reinforce the domain of psychiatry, as well as invalidate the experiences of trans women.

I am not trying to argue that my transwomanhood invalidates your (and my) autism, but rather provide another tool for trans people to prioritize and justify our own experiences, if nowhere else but internally, so we might stop invalidating ourselves. Psychiatrists can and will use any experience against us and it is always necessary, when talking about gender, to treat them like cops. This can be difficult as political theory often contains the only explanation for our feelings and habits, and it can be productive to convince your mental health worker to reject and oppose psychiatry. Just remember in all interactions who has the ability to ruin your life.