The Intersection of Autism and Transgender and Nonbinary Identities: Community and Academic Dialogue on Research and Advocacy

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Autism in adulthood : challenges and management








autism; gender diversity; nonbinary; transgender


Many transgender people are autistic. Community expressions of the autism transgender intersection abound. Some commentators have questioned the proportional overrepresentation of autism among gender-diverse people, suggesting these individuals may not be truly autistic or truly transgender. However, increasing evidence challenges assertions that deny the authenticity of co-occurring autistic and transgender identities. Specifically, research by authors of this article indicates autistic transgender people show neurophenotypes generally consistent with cisgender autistic people and implicit gender phenotypes consistent with nonautistic transgender people. This article features a dialogue between eight leading experts in the field of intersectional autism and gender diversity, including clinicians, researchers, community advocates, and experts who are themselves autistic transgender. Key topics of discussion included: how research findings on autism and gender diversity inform respectful and supportive responses to autistic transgender people; the benefits and harms of increased societal attention toward the autism transgender intersection; and research and advocacy priorities. The expert panel concluded the following: (1) it is important to respect transgender autistic people's wellness and resilience, while also acknowledging the pathologization and stigmatization they face; (2) autistic gender-diverse people are experts of their own identity and should be involved in all aspects of research and clinical care; (3) research is needed to understand the disparities autistic transgender people face; (4) attempts to restrict autistic transgender people's access to gender care are unsupported by existing research; (5) adult gender care may benefit from incorporating universal design principles and neurodiversity-affirming strategies to reduce barriers to care and improve clinician-client communication in treatment delivery and the informed consent process; (6) cross-cultural and cross-societal research will improve best care practices in diverse contexts; (7) research and advocacy must be inclusive across ethnoracial identities, including in leadership and perspectives represented; and (8) a life span developmental framework is needed for adult research in this field.


Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences