Thursday, 23 April 2015

The Problems and Politics of Passing for a Proud, Autistic, Transgender Woman

What follows is part of what I wrote to someone today on facebook.  They were asking about some transgender issues, mainly about hormone treatments and surgery.  They weren't asking about "passing" though we'd mentioned it earlier in the conversation.  But I got sidetracked.  And when I get sidetracked into something that I'm passionate about then there's almost no stopping me, especially online (see the other sixty posts on this blog for evidence of that).  So here goes, some thoughts on passing, as written almost stream of consciousness in a facebook message but edited and tidied a little here.  And inevitably added to greatly in places.  There's also a section missed out because it mentions a friend whose life is nicely anonymous to a trusted friend in America but who doesn't need even a tiny part of their story plastered here for the world to see.


Passing in some ways is a toughie for transgender people. We know we shouldn't have to pass. And we know that we should just be able to be who we are. But we also know that it makes life easier - I used to get abuse pretty much every time I left the house, from idiots and now it's a very rare thing. So we get caught up in the politics and pros and cons and the fact that some people will NEVER "pass" no matter what they do. We talk of how not being invisible, not passing, speeds up the change in society. And recognise that you've got to be brave to be the one standing out. I've gone through all this with trans issues and many people have written eloquently of the issues and of their good and bad experiences of passing, not passing, and of not wanting to pass in the first place.

And then this year I've been forced, in bigger ways than expected, to consider autism. And then recently I've been starting to read wider into other disability areas, something that is probably going to take quite a lot of time and reading and talking with people to truly get to grips with in any deep sense. And what I find when I read is that there is EXACTLY the same language.  So many groups of people speak of passing - the need to pass as "normal", the different reasons why people would like to pass, the need to not pass if we want society to change at any pace, the dangers to oneself of passing, the dangers of not passing, the politics, the thought that it is not the place of people to conform to society merely because they are different, but the place of society to learn to accept those people.

It's exactly the same language.  However, I am beginning to work out that there is a big difference though between transgender passing and autistic passing.  A whopping, massive difference that means there are two forms of passing that mean very different things.

Passing in trans land is to fit in to society's picture of what you should look like if you're claiming to be who you are.  Society says that there is a certain picture of what a woman looks like, sounds like, walks like and so on, or what a man is like and if someone appears in public who doesn't fit either of those two boxes then there will be a reaction.  To seek to pass is, in some way, to seek to fit into one of the two societal boxes.  Which is understandable, given that it makes life easier.  Passing says, yes, I am a woman or man and am proud of this but for whatever reason I'm going to seek to fit in with what you say that woman or man should be.  I'm pretty lucky.  I don't have to do a lot to pass reasonably well.  At this stage it's almost not an issue for me - though I'll keep up the hair removal that's already paid for and still spend four minutes a day applying makeup.  At this stage I almost fit into one of the boxes naturally.  But other transgender people will not be able to "pass" whatever they do.  And many transgender people don't fit in one of those boxes anyway - because those boxes aren't the only options for a human being to inhabit.

Passing in autism land is to fit into the picture of someone who isn't you, passing as neuro-typical in order to gain the privileges and simple life of an NT person. There can be lots of reasons for this.  A negative reason is shame.  Many autistic people are told that the outward signs of their autism are bad and they come to believe it and end up spending their lives trying to cover up who they are in order to avoid rejection, from others and from themselves.  A positive one - though one that needs to change in the future as society changes - is that sometimes an autistic person has to pass in order to fulfill a dream or to be able to follow a particular career. Not passing as neurotypical means almost automatic exclusion.

I think that's a big, big difference even though the language used about it is the same. Passing in trans land is hard physical work at times - not that I'm a hard worker.  Unless you are non-binary - which brings up a whole load of new passing issues - you don't pass by saying that your brain and soul are anything other than you know them to be.  You just change the physical. Whereas passing in autism land or in most mental health lands is a mental and emotional thing. And that's stupendously harder. Passing in trans land says "I am a woman (or whatever else) and proud". Passing in autism land says "I am autistic but for some reason I don't want to let you know, or know that I can't let you know because then you won't let me do what I want to do so I am forced into a pretence in order to have anything like the life I want."  Passing in (the binary bits of) trans land is thus all about externals, fitting how you present externally into society's picture of who you already are internally.  Passing in autism land is quite the opposite.  It's all about externals, true, but it's about fitting how you present externally into society's picture of who you are NOT internally.  Which is massively exhausting.  I'm only now realising that as I watch others who have to pass and as I let go of all the defences I'd built up against allowing myself to be me.

I think of those people who pass for neurotypical in their day to day lives because they have to.  At this point they have no real choice.  It's either pass as "normal" or do something very different with their lives.  Of course that's wrong, in many ways it is abhorrent, but just at the moment it's how things are. Hence the calls from many autistic people for autism acceptance rather than autism awareness. I hear the cry and see a local group say "It's autism awareness month, hey let's all wear blue." Except, I say, and my friends say, and those I've been reading online who are autistic and proud, "Hey let's don't because the organisation telling us to wear blue is one that we really, really want to stay clear of if we want to be proud as autistic people rather than thinking of ourselves as deformed."  There are lots of posts online about autism acceptance, such as this one by Amy Sequenzia, whose writing I quite adore.  The organisation mentioned about is called Autism Speaks and almost the first advice people have given me when I've asked is "avoid Autism Speaks."  There's loads of reasons for that - and if you look online you can find a ton of good autistic people who will tell you the many shortcomings of that organisation.  I am fortunate to have people around me who give me good advice and probably that single phrase "avoid Autism Speaks" set up the foundation of the ethos for so much I believe about autism and about wider issues.  Here's Amythest Schader again about that avoidance - I watched this with child earlier today, alongside a lot more of her videos.

So it's only really when dealing with the ASD things, letting the defences down and seeing what happens that I've been able to see just how hard I've been working, every day, to be what I'm not and appear as what I'm not. And it's only when that's happened that I've been able to turn around and say "Fuck Passing!" and believe it. This feels SO good. Physically it feels wonderful to let go and start to learn to be myself - to learn to be autistic as a wonderful blog post put it. Emotionally and mentally, it is a new freedom. Calling myself Clare brought great freedom - without which I wouldn't have been able to take this step. But this brings even more freedom. (By the way, I don't ever swear!  But Fuck Passing!)  Amythest Schader in one of her youtube videos puts forth the idea of "guerilla stimming."  Basically, to stim everywhere whenever you need to and not hide it.  Because society will not change while autistic people are invisible.  Just as the pace of change for transgender people has increased almost directly proportionally to the visibility of trans people in the last few years - and the conservative counter-reaction and shouting has increased too in its death throes - so the pace of change for autistic people and for people from a wide variety of excluded groups will increase with visibility.  To stim publicly and with pride and just to present yourself  as completely normal in your stimming is to change society.  If you don't know what stimming is, here's one of those Amythest youtube videos on the subject.

There was a point in all this that I could have taken the neurotypical blue pill and continued to deny what I'd always half known. I've taken it for years. But thanks to my friend, deep thanks to her, I've been able to find the strength, courage, and curiosity to take the red pill. Staying in Wonderland with all its challenges. Rejecting the false living. And what I'm finding is that this particular rabbit hole is far deeper than expected.

And this rabbit hole doesn't allow me to pass as normal. Because everything adds to everything and words like authenticity have to win. Yep. As you say, be yourself. Be proud. Be free. And so on.

Hmm. Sidetracked a little there and the whole Autism Speaks section was rather a sidetrack within a sidetrack. Kind of foresee that once I get myself a little more sorted I'll have no option but to be some kind of activist in a bigger way than tweeting and retweeting about it all. Actually this whole ramble about passing is a sidetrack and wasn't meant to happen.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Unrelated Thoughts on My (Lack of) God and My Autism

I've just written a couple of comments on facebook and find I don't want to lose them.  One was about God and faith.  The other about autism, particularly my recent discovery that it's OK to stim, even that it's a very good thing.  They are personal.  They're just about my life - and really that's not wildly interesting so feel very free to stop reading now.  And they're just ephemeral facebook comments, not classic literature to inspire the centuries!  But I want to save them.  Because one revealed something to me.  And the other can stand if ever needed as a reminder of joy, a reminder of why the path I'm on is a valuable one.

Firstly, God.  How very orthodox, to place God first.

Following on from the gorgeous song from the last blog post an old friend commented, through his experience and love.  When I lived closer to him years ago he would have been the only person anywhere who could possibly have convinced me to rejoin the Jesus Army and give myself to those people and that vision.  Finally cutting links with that church meant I lost contact with him and that saddened me.  But by the wonders of social media - and in this case through a wild coincidence - he's back in my life in some way.

As part of the discussion he quoted the Bible:

"For I know in whom I have believed,
and am persuaded that
 He is able to keep that which 
I have committed unto him
against that day"

A perfectly good verse to quote.  I can understand it and understand having a lived truth in which that verse can be grasped, believed, experienced.  I can understand it because I applied those words to myself for many years - before my faith fell to pieces.  I had a response to this from my life - although admittedly it may mean more in the context of the conversation.  A response of honesty, but certainly not a response to argue against my friend's experiences of the Divine.  A response that reveals to me some of the faith in my faithlessness.

I am unpersuaded. There are many times I want to walk away totally, to not believe in anything 'beyond'. Part of that is my pure but possibly imperfect logic. I have argued out the dogma too many times. And much is a result of all the unhealthiness of my faith for too many years, why I embraced it, and how I allowed it to curse me even while grasping onto it so much as my hope and meaning.

But yes, I don't know how to not believe. I may not exactly be orthodox in faith. Much of the time I can't conceive of the reality of a being who is god. But I cannot believe that there is no other, cannot believe that all there is is the universe and gravity pulling us forever into earth. Whatever happens, I fail to stop looking beyond - both to the beyond without and the beyond within. I can't let go. No matter how much I've tried, and no matter how much holding on has deeply hurt. And Spirit can't let go of me.

So here I am, joined the church that should have been my last and which I was meant to have left behind. Getting lost in worship when I can't hold onto that belief. I cannot walk away. It's impossible. Much of the time I am faithless or have a faith that most Christians wouldn't recognise as Christian. But I remain. Because, through everything, I am held by that which is infinite, that which is fully life, that which is the Real, is Being, is Truth, is Eternal. That which is the ground of love and the ground of fire.

Hmm. That last bit might sound suspiciously like faith to some people. You might even apply a label to those words, and say that they are God.

Secondly, autism.  Thoughts unrelated to the above.

Just saying.  Rocking, pacing, moving, stimming feel so damn wonderful.  So much better than forever forcing myself to be outwardly still, to sit without moving.  Some of it is restful.  Some of it releases.  Some of it is grounding.  And some of it feels like joyed strength flowing into me.  All of which comes as something of a surprise.

I have always rocked but almost never let it happen because I felt too guilty and shamed by it.  "It's wrong.  It's bad.  Sit still.  Be quiet.  Be respectable." Thank God these things can change.  Learning to lose that guilt, and guilt over some of the ways my brain is wired, is starting to bear fruit.  At last.

I know there's still quite a way to go in learning to be able to allow my body to move as it wants to.  Learning to be myself:  It's so difficult.  At times it's felt impossible.  I've been so near the edge through all this.  So scared at times.  Close to needing a psych ward.  But it's essential.  And after the hell comes the self acceptance and the renewed smiles.

That's all.  Two thoughts.  Unrelated.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The Universe Laughs At Me Through A Song

The universe is laughing at me.

I didn't want to mass play a song today, post it on social media in two places and know I have to learn to play it.  That there is NO choice.  I didn't want to spend hours on the same 4 minute simple song.  Yet I find that something in this hits all the right places, just like all the minor 6th chords and tri-tones that got thrown into my playing this morning.  I got so lost in that piano this morning.  I really must get round to getting it tuned for the first time since getting married - which was nearly twenty years ago!

I most definitely didn't want to mass play a song about God that I don't even mentally agree with.

And it's totally certain that I didn't want that song to be a song from the Jesus Army.

But the universe doesn't give a shit what I want.  It does things to me anyway.  Most of us find the universe seems to have a carefree attitude towards our desires.  And most of the time the actions of the universe turn out to be good in the end.  Life is more fun that way, when there are unexpected bonuses from time to time.

So.  Here's the song.

Over the years the Jesus Army has come up with some truly atrocious songs.  I could give examples from the years in which I was involved with them.

And then there are ones like this one.  When the Jesus Army does something well, which to be fair is quite often, it really does it well.  It's a simple song.  A simple accompaniment.  In many ways if I applied logic and analysis it would seem like nothing special.

But the song, for whatever reasons, brings me both tears and peace.  And vibrato through bones and muscles and so much more.  There is something in this that bursts into and beyond every energy centre (if energy centres exist) something that I can feel on every level.  This is something that so much pulls at the physical chest, the inner core, that I can let it become the entire universe for a few moments.

When music is the universe, when all else ceases to exist, that is the best.  There is nothing better in my life.  Ever.  When I sing and play and all else vanishes and all that remains is vibration and spirit then that is bliss.  Bliss.  Does everyone sink into music so much that the universe disappears?

Of course, you might hate it!  That's OK.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

I Am Autistic: My Path From Long Denial of Autism To Acceptance, part one

There. I've said it. I am autistic.

My previous blog post covered all that, a public statement, a very real coming out about my autistic brain. If you haven't read it and wish to, the link is under these words.  The first post provides some context to this one.

But how did I come to realise and accept this? How did my fifteen year rejection of an idea become acceptance of a truth? How did I come to be thankful for a truth that I could never properly consider before?

There were reasons why I kept steadfastly rejecting the idea, why I could not even begin to conceive that I could actually be autistic. I'd been able to joke about it – the joke came up too frequently, whenever I was over-literal in interpreting language, whenever I strongly exhibited any trait that would stereotypically fit an autistic pattern. But I couldn't take it seriously.

I couldn't deal with the idea until I'd dealt with gender issues and found some control, balance, happiness and hope in my life. While still indulging in self-rejection and self-hatred, while still seeing myself as a monster (or “abomination” as I thought the Bible said) I couldn't possibly have looked closely at the idea of autism.

I couldn't deal with the idea until my mother died. Unconsciously I believed in some way that I'd never hear the end of it if I took autism seriously. She would say “I told you so. Because I understand perfectly.” And she would say it too often for me to cope with. Of course, she might never have said things like that at all. But unconsciously I believed that she would and so could not face the idea.

And I couldn't deal with the idea because, in honesty, I didn't know enough about autism. Most of what I “knew” was based on stereotypes of very troubled children, very unruly or very silent or both. And I wasn't like that. I wasn't unruly as a child. I got on and did the school work without rebellion. And I wasn't more silent than others, at least not abnormally so. I didn't cope well through childhood and had lots of issues but I wasn't like that,was I? I wasn't like thosechildren in lurid TV documentaries. So I couldn't possibly be autistic could I? Asperger Syndrome was a silly idea, it just couldn't apply.

The only adult, openly autistic people I'd spent time around didn't help me either. They may not have been like those children but theytreated their autism as a guaranteed reason why they couldn't and wouldn't amount to anything in life. They said things like “My brain is deformed so there is no place for me in society, I can never be accepted.” They were without hope of a future which is a deep shame and a deeper shame when I consider just how intelligent they were and how much they had within them of wondrous quality. When the only autistic adults you know repeatedly say things like that then it's impossible to conceive that you too may be autistic, impossible to conceive that things may be just as hopeless for you.

Of course, now I firmly believe that these people were wrong. Not through their own fault but because of whatever had been told to them repeatedly as they grew up. It's so sad to know that there are people who, because of their autism, have been told that they are deformed, useless, of no value, and have come to believe it so strongly that nothing anyone else says can get through.

So for all the years of having this autism, Asperger Syndrome idea dancing in my head over and over again it was completely impossible for me to consider that it might actually be true rather than me just having a few coincidental similarities, sharing a trait or three. And I could explain those traits away. After all, as I told myself – entirely erroneously – isn't everyone somewhere on the autism spectrum? (No, most people are nowhere on the spectrum. There's my ignorance on display again.) So if I saw similarities it meant nothing. Nothing at all. Final verdict. End. Of. Story.

My perfectly held logical theories about my brain being nicely neurotypical began to fall apart only when I met other adult autistic people who didn't feel the same way as those I had met before. It was almost as if the universe knew I was ready for revelation and so began to throw autistic people at me. These were autistic people getting on with life, not letting their autism diagnosis get in the way of living. These are people with determination, people who believe in themselves and in their abilities. Yes, their autism can be challenging. Sometimes it can be very challenging indeed. But sometimes it can be helpful too. These are people who accept that their autism has helped to make them who they are and that in many ways they are better people for having autism, despite the challenges and struggles they have faced and still face in dealing with it.

These people, thrown at me by the universe, have changed my life. They didn't mean to do it but things cannot go back to how they were. I began talking with them about autism. About how it felt to be autistic – if “felt” is the right word. About their experiences. About symptoms. About expressing symptoms and about hiding those symptoms. I fully expected that taking to these people would kill the joke in my life. I'd be able to turn round and say that I was nothing like that. No, not me. I'm not like them. It's amazing just how defensive a person can be against an idea.

Things didn't work out that way. Rather, talking with these people began to confirm that the joke should be taken seriously. Very seriously indeed. I don't want to say much about the people I talked with. They should remain anonymous as I haven't got permission to write about them and reveal any specific information. So I'll say as little as possible. And the language will be gender neutral. Sorry if that language confuses anyone. They know who they are and some who are close to me know who they are and will know who I'm talking about in the next paragraph.

Very recently I've had long talks on autism with one particular friend. One of those autistic people the universe threw at me. It's a completely unexpected friendship for which I am utterly grateful in so many ways. On one day, having already spent much time talking – it was the sort of day when a drink in a café stretches to many hours – they decided to reveal their autism to me. Not that they are autistic. I knew that already. And having talked quite a bit I knew some of the theory of what that meant. But on that day they decided to BE autistic around me, to show the reality, rather than doing their best through hard effort to fit into a convenient neurotypical pattern for my sake.

So we sat in a café and my friend goes from being the person they had until that moment presented to me, drops many of the walls and ways of presentation, and appears before me as themself. Gosh, convincing a word processor that “themself” is a word is difficult. They were nervous about it but believed and hoped that I'd understand. That nervousness was normal – I won't say how they behaved in front of me (nothing immoral or outrageous or loud) but it wasn't the way most polite English people would behave in a café when with someone they don't know well.

Their belief, their hope was right. I understood. To be honest I felt very privileged to be seeing a reality that not everyone gets to see. I felt very blessed to have been trusted enough by my friend that they let me see at least some of what their inner life is like and what their manner of being can be like when not trying to fit in to what we are told is normal.

They told me they had thought I might understand. My response was that there was nothing to understand. They had acted much as I might wish to act if I didn't feel so guilty about it. It seems I find them and other autistic friends pretty easy to understand. It's everyone else I find difficult. It turns out that how they are is just the way life already is for me underneath all my own defences and attempts to fit in. I am told that this understanding of one set of people and difficulty understanding another says a lot about me.

My friend told me that they had decided that I am autistic. They weren't the first. Another friend told me they had spotted it on a first meeting. I find I trust my friends. They are intelligent. They have wisdom. And, crucially, they have personal experience.

Everything in my new friendships pointed in only one direction. Never before had it been a direction I'd been willing to look in but I like these friends. I respect and admire them for who they are, what they do and the challenges they give themselves in being the best they can be. Because of their manner of being I could accept that what was true for them – and what they recognised in me – might be truth for me after all.

I'd taken the journey from a belief in the impossibility of something to a belief in the possibility of something – and, grudgingly, the probability of something. But I had to know. I couldn't be satisfied with a “might”. I needed confirmation. Or denial – though by that time I knew that confirmation was the more likely outcome.

It was time to consider things very carefully. Very carefully indeed. To stop joking and get serious. OK. I might be autistic. I am told there is a good chance that I am. It was time to research and find out for myself.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

A Post About Autism in the Life of a Woman Reborn

Throughout my adult life my mother worked to an assumption, a belief that could not be shifted.

She believed, wholeheartedly, that she understood me thoroughly. And that affected the way she acted towards me.

I have had a long history of mental health issues and I have spent my life not quite coping with that life in general, with relationships; with others and with myself. My mother would say to me very frequently, “You think that because you ...” or “You're doing that because you ...” Bless her, she was trying her best. But in the majority of cases I could only disagree with her conclusions. Her words to me showed consistently that she didn't understand me or the way my mind worked at all. She could not have understood me in any case – for I was, to all appearances, her neurotypical son.

And she had another habit, arising from my mental health history and a history of not feeling physically great without developing any obvious serious diseases. She would give me diagnoses. Many diagnoses of physical ailments and mental health conditions that would explain what she thought was wrong with me. A new diagnosis would crop up with alarming regularity depending what she had been reading or what someone on Radio Four had talked about that week.

All of my mother's possible diagnoses for me failed. All of them sank into the background and were quickly forgotten about. Or they were knocked out of their place by the next diagnosis.

All of them were wrong. Obviously and demonstrably wrong.

Except for one of them.

Probably fifteen years ago my mother came up with a new diagnosis. She had been doing some reading, following another health issue being discussed on Radio Four.

And I have spent these fifteen years having to deny that diagnosis. Reject it. Swear that there was no possible way that it could be the truth. Mother, you got it wrong again. Very wrong.

Fifteen years ago my mother diagnosed me with Asperger Syndrome.

I rejected that – just like I rejected every other one of her diagnoses. And yet it stuck. And stuck. And persisted. It just would not go away.

Too many things fitted. And later I aced the test available at that time to lowly lay people – the Autism Quotient test devised by Simon Baron-Cohen. There were other clues too that added into the pattern.

But I still rejected it. I could not be autistic in any way. Impossible. And, psychologically I couldn't accept the possibility that my mother was right in a diagnosis, even if that only meant accepting that she had struck lucky on one occasion. Perhaps, sadly, I am only able to deal with this now that she has gone. Most certainly I am only able to deal with this now that I've dealt with my gender issues, accepting and embracing myself as a woman.

There has been a joke about me in my family for years. The joke, which really isn't funny, is that I speak in certain ways, think in certain ways, act in certain ways because I haven't got Aspergers. I am who I am because I am NOT an Aspie.

I couldn't be. No. No. No. There was no way and I refused to look further into the matter. Except it kept popping up and there was no way to escape it for very long.

A great deal has happened recently. I've had to do a great deal of rethinking of my life and of my mind, my brain. There have been many revelations. Discoveries about myself. Discoveries about how I've used logical rules and brute force to suppress and reject things about who I am. Discoveries about just how much guilt and shame I've felt about these things that led, in part, to me building impregnable defences so the truth couldn't leak out.

A great deal has happened. I will be writing about it. I need to write many things in order to understand it properly for myself. And I need to write many things to explain quite how these things happened and how I can be so sure of my conclusions. But for today the writing needs only set out one basic fact of my being.

A great deal has happened: It's a process that has led from me rejecting any suggestion of Asperger Syndrome, any possibility that I am somewhere on the Autism Spectrum, to being one-hundred percent certain in my own mind that I am autistic. I. AM. AUTISTIC.

I've been having to come to terms with a lot. I've been having to strike down those defences. I've been having to start to learn to be who I am.

In a very real sense, for the second time in two years, I have had to come out to myself.

This accelerating process is proving to be very difficult for me at times. And combining it with suddenly having a very different set of hormones within me (As of a month ago I have been taking a testosterone blocker and increased oestrogen) is adding to those difficulties. There have been some awful days. And those around me have been subject to those awful days. At some point I will be writing about those awful days.

Realising this autistic truth about myself is not in itself a solution to anything. But it is a map, an explanation, a guide to why I am as I am. And that's a good starting point for gaining a better life.

It doesn't necessarily change as much as my revelations about my gender. But it's so much harder to deal with. All the gender revelations brought only joy, release, relief and understanding of much of my past. Coming out as transgender and living as myself, female, is pretty easy in comparison to coming out as autistic and having to work through so many things that are painful and have no easy solutions or simple solutions and sometimes, or often, will have no solutions at all beyond accepting them as part of who I am and getting on with life accordingly, without the old shame and guilt.

So, now I sit, impatiently.

I have been referred by the GP for a proper assessment for autism. I went to her prepared. I knew that asking to be referred for assessment would lead to the question “Why do you want to be referred?” So I took along lots of reasons, several pages of reasons to cover the very basics. I hadn't got a quarter of the way through when she cut me off and said “Yes, we'd better refer you.”

This referral may take a while, a long while, because like so many parts of the NHS, especially mental health services, there is a shortage of cash, a shortage of staff and a shortage of facilities. I crave the day the assessment begins or takes place. I can only hope the experts agree with me, and agree with autistic friends of mine, that this is the truth.

This is the truth:

I am autistic.

This is my coming out to the world. It may be premature since I am not officially diagnosed – not that official opinion will affect what is already truth. This is me. Coming out. En masse. Coming out as transgender was such a slow, adrenaline fuelled, tiring, terrifying thing. If I could do it again I'd get it over quickly. So here's a new coming out. To everyone at once.

I. Am. Autistic.