When Neurodivergence & Queerness Intersect
When I posted about what topics members would like to hear for our 2022 Embracing Intensity Guest Call series, one of the first topics that came up was on the intersection of Queerness and Neurodivergence and I’m thrilled that Leela Sinha agreed to be our very first guest speaker on Jan. 22 on that topic!
As Leela notes, “As we become less pathologizing of neuro divergence. And as we offer neuro divergent kids, better structures. More nourishing structures for them, for their brains. They’re going to develop into the robustness of their neuro divergence and they’re spending less time and energy trying to be different from who they are.
So, they’re spending more time and energy asking who they really are.”
This is definitely not an “inside-the-box” topic and was so interesting to explore! You can find the full discussion in the Embracing Intensity Membership at embracingintensity.com/membership.
Meet Leela Sinha; ze wants to transform the way you talk about Intensity. A savvy, joy-seeking, transformation-loving, Intensive Person, Leela literally wrote the book on what it means to Embrace Intensity. After realizing that ze was not “too much,” but rather exceptionally intensive, Leela made it zir mission, work, and ministry to gather up the voices and experiences of others to write zir new book You’re Not Too Much. Now, ze is here to share zir passion, wisdom, and excellent advice for all of us Excitable people to stop suppressing our authentic selves, and start living life fully. Leela created a language that ze could use to describe zir experiences to other.
Giftedness * Identity * Intensity * Neurodivergence * Positive Disintegration * Relationships * Self Care * Self Regulation * Twice Exceptionality
In this episode with Leela:
- The overlap between autism and gender diversity
- How neurodivergence is defined as a very broad umbrella term for the different ways that people’s brains function
- Why the definition of queerness has changed over time but is still used as an umbrella term
- The overlap between queerness and neurodivergence
- How growing up with a different sense of known reality will cause attitudes and moves of self-protection
- How deconstruction occurs in society and feels “right” to stigmatized people
- Why identifying as non-binary or trans has become trendy as people have become more aware of their options for exploration
- Challenges in the non-binary gender spaces because of bias even in inclusion views
- How a fully nourishing environment helps neurodivergent kids understand their options and feel safe to express themselves
- How the progression occurs in media representation for queer representation and non-binary representation
- How pathologizing neurodivergence or queerness can affect a person’s ability to access resources and care
- Why accessibility is often not accounted for in the help and support spaces
Resources for Leela and Aurora:
- Connect with Leela Sinha: Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and www.leelasinha.com
- Visit www.embracingintensity.com/community for more information and to learn about future events!
Ep. 251 Transcript
Ep. 251 Transcript
* Rough Transcript *
[00:00:00] Leela: As we become less pathologizing of neuro divergence. And as we offer neuro divergent kids, better structures. More nourishing structures for them, for their brains. They’re going to develop into the robustness of their neuro divergence and they’re spending less time and energy trying to be different from who they are.
So, they’re spending more time and energy asking who they really are.
[00:00:28] Aurora: Welcome to the embracing intensity podcast. I’ll be sharing interviews and tips for gifted, creative, twice exceptional and outside the box thinkers who use their fire in a positive way. My name is Aurora. Remember Holtzman after years of feeling too much. I finally realized that intensity is the source of my greatest power.
Now, instead of beating myself up about not measuring up to my own self-imposed standards, I’m on a mission to help people embrace their own intensity and befriend their brains so they can share their gifts. The world through the embracing intensity community coaching, educational assessment, and other tools to help use your fire without getting burned, you can join us at embracingintensity.com.
This episode is a recording of our talk with Leela Sinha on the intersection of neuro divergence and gender.
And this was a specific topic requested by a community member. And I was so glad when Leela agreed to do it, it’s definitely not an inside the box kind of topic. And I think they did an amazing job of bringing up some points to consider and things.
That were really interesting to think about, and you can find the full discussion within the embracing intensity community at community dot, embracing intensity.com, where you can also RSVP for the events so that you get updates and reminders, as well as the login information. So, join us there at community dot Embracing Intensity.com enjoy.
[00:02:12] Leela: So, my name is Leela Sinha I’m here on unseated Ohlone land, which is also Berkeley, California. My pronouns are ze, zim, zer and I try to use this exclusively, but if you’re gonna stumble over them because you brain can’t brain them, I get. You can sub in, they, them, that’s fine. When I was preparing for this, I wasn’t entirely sure what the question was since I really only had a topic.
So, having heard you all introduce yourselves, I think maybe I’m gonna throw out, you know, two thirds of my notes and I’m just gonna talk about this because there, first of all,
There is a tiny little bit of science about this, but really in the grand scheme of research, there’s not much.
There is mostly research about the overlap between trans and autistic identities, which is a, again, a much smaller slice than the whole picture.
And it does look like there’s about where are my numbers? About 15%. Overlap between autism and gender diversity. So, if you identify as transgender, nonconforming, all that stuff, it seems like about 15% of trans etcetera folks identify as, or have been diagnosed or self-diagnosed as autistic. And about 15% of people who are diagnosed as Autistic.
So, I don’t know how the math works on that. Cuz math is not one of my skills, but that does seem to be what the research shows.
There’s very little like numerical research or additional research about the overlap between queerness broadly and neuro divergence broadly.
So first of all, let me just. Touch the definitions.
Neuro divergence is an enormous umbrella, enormous because basically it means anything that isn’t neurotypical. So, it can include all kinds of what we usually think of what the DSM five thinks of as mental health conditions. Those are all under the neuro divergence umbrella. And so, I think, and I think it’s really important for us to remember that in these conversations.
Our culture definitely tries to sort neuro divergent identities into like the good ones and then the not good ones.
And as people who are neuro divergent, it’s really important for us to not let them do that. Right. There’s nothing better about being high masking or low masking. There is nothing better about being, you know, more or less able to fit into society on a moral or kind of intrinsic level.
Is it easier if you can do that? Sure. Yes. There’s ease involved, but that’s. Different from being better. And then,
[00:04:47] Aurora: oh, I was just gonna say that’s something I, a hundred percent on the same page with you in terms of that neuro divergence label, because I think people get argue over the and nitpick, what covers that, that broad umbrella.
But I totally agree with you.
I think any variance, including any mental health, I mean, that affects how we are.
Some people think of it as like the like biological thing that you’re born with the wiring and that things like trauma and things that affect you later don’t count, but how could they not right.
[00:05:16] Leela: They do count. I mean,
[00:05:16] Aurora: it’s still divergent.
[00:05:18] Leela: It affects your brain. It affects the way you function. It’s a brain function. Not a,
[00:05:22] Aurora: exactly.
[00:05:22] Leela: Not a rest of your body function.
[00:05:24] Aurora: Yeah.
[00:05:24] Leela: Again, that another thing that I have a whole soapbox about is the brain body divide, but
[00:05:29] Aurora: oh, I was, I acknowledge that this is a very broad topic and I thank you for even taking it on because I’m not expecting like a neat little package.
This is the, I think this
[00:05:39] Leela: that’s good.
[00:05:39] Aurora: More of a discussion. And more opening a discussion about it and where it’s affecting those, you know, around us.
[00:05:48] Leela: Yeah. Yeah. And Carrie says the pandemic is even rewiring our brains. Absolutely. The pandemic, the trauma part, but also just the different way that we’re living the different way that we’re interacting the variations on how.
Behave, it’s all affecting us.
I’m really curious to see how the definition of neuro divergent has changed five years out from the pandemic.
You know, whenever this comes to a more and whenever we hit a kind of stability, endemicity state where somehow our treatments and our vaccines have allowed us to move back into a more social way of being, which I think is gonna happen.
What’s that gonna do to people’s understandings and definitions? Because if this goes on long enough, it won’t just be, oh, we’re going back to normal. Normal won’t feel normal anymore. And I think people are already starting to encounter that and it’s freaking them out a little bit. It’s. Most, I think neuro divergent people out less because we’re already used to everything being weird.
So first of all, that, you know, we’re including,
When I say neuro divergent, we need to also think, you know, bipolar schizophrenia, like all of those things are also different ways for our neurologies to function and not just, oh, well, I’m ADHD or autistic.
I also think. That this is about, and that choice is about justice, right?
It’s about solidarity. It’s about inclusion. It’s about recognizing the kinds of, oh, hi, Linda. It’s about recognizing the kinds of damage that can be done when we try to slice the top off. And, you know, there are some ways that parallels what happens with giftedness or model minorities. Like there’s so many different ways that we can parallel.
Now queer. So, in a lot of communities, queer is kind of sliding out of its status as an umbrella term, and it’s becoming a little more specific. It’s becoming a little more political. It, when I was coming up, I came out in 1994.
Queer was really, the umbrellaist of umbrella terms.
It was used in universities for queer studies departments, queer studies classes, that kind of thing.
And that’s still a thing, but there are increasing numbers of people who are two-spirit. T Q I a plus somewhere in that alphabet and are not identifying as queer specifically queer doesn’t feel like it fits them. So, when I use queer here, I’m using it as an umbrella inclusive term because that’s the term that was used for advertising because that’s, I think what your intent was, but I just wanna acknowledge that the use of language is always changing and it continues to change.
And so, we’re seeing that too. So, queer I’m using it as an umbrella term, but that’s not universal. And neuro divergent includes a whole host of things that are not autism and ADHD.
So why do queerness and neuro divergence seem to overlap so much?
There are, like I said, the science is very thin. I don’t think there’s enough science to really science about this.
And also, the more that I think, and study and engage with ideas about decolonializing things. And the more that I recognize. How much, like half my fam I’m half Indian from India. And so, there’s like, there’s a very different way that a culture evolves when it’s not interrupted and Western European culture, which is my other half and whiteness more broadly.
Has this very interrupted history and this very like trying to quantify things, trying to make things be right or true in a very narrow way. And so, as I move away from that as the only away from privileging that as the only way of knowing I increasingly am. You know, I’m like, okay, there was a study, but I’m not sure I believe any of it.
I mean, the data that comes out of the study is probably true, but what affected it and what, who got left out? What wasn’t at the table? Like all of those questions, what were the biases of the researchers? How did that impact their processing of the information that they received? All of those questions, make me much more skeptical about academia than I used to be.
When you know, I was growing up with two parents with graduate degrees. So that aside, what we do know is that when we deconstruct one social structure, we then map that onto everything else. And everything falls apart is what happens. and especially we see that with gender identity, although it also happens in queerness, right?
So, if you are growing up with a different sense of reality,
with a different known, lived sense of reality than the people around you, whether that’s because you have something like bipolar or schizophrenia, or whether that’s because you have something like ADHD, autism changing the way that your brain works, if your brain does not work like the brain context of the people around you.
You’re either gonna think you’re crazy, like in the, my reality must be wrong sort of way, which is very common or you’re just gonna recognize that what you’ve got and what they’ve got is different. You’re gonna be like, well, I don’t know why you can’t so I’m just gonna not talk to you about that anymore.
Right? That’s a very self-protective move, but once you’ve done. Then everything is in question. It’s not just the thing that you encountered it through. So, let’s suppose that everybody thinks that I should be wildly upset about something and I’m not, or everybody thinks I shouldn’t be. And I am, which was my state as a child, I was always upset about things.
And people around me were like, I don’t know why you’re so upset. Also, you’re too young to be this upset and I’m like okay. But here we are. You know, there’s a story that my mother told me once that my father came home and found her arguing with me, I was two years old. My father came home and found her like elbow deep in an argument with me.
And my father was like, my father’s a chemical engineer. He’s from India. Like there’s a lot going on here in this story. You know, if I’m two years old, this is 1977. And. He’s like, why are you arguing with a two-year-old? And she’s like, because if this two-year-old, doesn’t understand why we’re doing this.
This two-year-old will not do it. and he’s like, basically two-year-old brains don’t work that way. And she’s like, have you have clearly not met this two Year-old?
So, you know, from the beginning, like I think my mom is still mad that I didn’t turn out to be a normal child.
I’ve had a couple of conversations. Aurora says we are the same age.
I’ve had a couple of conversations. With my mom where it’s clear that she’s still carrying a lot of anger and resentment about the way that I was a child, but that deconstruction causes us to call everything into question. So now everybody, everybody says something. And my first response, even as a young child, my first response is, are you sure though?
I’m not sure. I didn’t. I know you’re saying that. So,
I’m gonna recognize that as like some kind of normative reality, but that doesn’t make it my reality.
And so, you know, I remember when I was, and I’m referencing my own life, but I had, I actually started a conversation about this in a large discord server that I’m part of where this was a relevant conversation.
And I heard a lot of stories, but you know, I was always walking around. I was five years old saying, you know, boys and girls are not that different. I don’t know why we’re always dividing the class up into boys and girls, boys, and girls, boys, and girls. And then we hit the cooties stage and I was like, I don’t understand your cooties rituals.
Like boys don’t have cooties girls don’t have cooties mean people might have cooties. That’s a possibility, right? Like, so, so not only as we get older, not only do we deconstruct what society hands us, but we also construct things that make more sense to us. And so, by the time we reach. An age where we’re starting to explore our sexuality, whatever that age is, whether it’s younger or older or whatever, a we’re gonna go look stuff up in books. At least I did.
I lived in the library. I was like friends with librarians
and we’re also just going to be willing to throw out anything that doesn’t make sense. So, we often end up with this conflict, this strong sense of confidence on the one hand, that our way of being is like, well, you all are just wrong.
And then, and on the other hand, this sense that nobody else is gonna recognize that they’re wrong and we’re just gonna carry on being right until somebody figures it out.
Now for my particular generation in Aurora, this is our generation. What we find what we found growing up, those of us who identify as queer, what we found growing up is that our sense that everybody was wrong has actually been validated right in the 1970s and eighties being queer was still very, he heavily stigmatized.
And then there was the aids epidemic, which if you were queer. When that was in its kind of fullness, you identified as queer when that was in its fullness, you really have a sense of like of how bad that was, especially at the beginning. And then like all of a sudden, we had legalized equal marriage.
Like, oh look, everyone figured out I was right. It only took 20 years.
So, all of the structures fail and that actually feels right to. And then when we’re in our own community spaces, that’s easy, right? When we find an exceptional space, when we find a space for intensives, so that’s the language from my framework.
When we find a queer space, it, you know, that rightness is a shared that failure of the systems and that rightness is a shared phenomenon. But of course, when we leave that air, that space, we face all the usual issues and, Aurora says, I see a big overlap in how bisexuality was perceived then and how non-binary is perceived now. Yes.
And I think we’re progressing faster because of the overlap between non-binary and queer communities and the social acceptance of queerness.
So that queers can actually be thought leaders. And if you come out as non-binary and people are like, oh, well you’ll eventually decide to transition or not.
There, there are so many people who have been holding the, in between space for so long that I think that there’s yes, there, I think the trend idea is coming its backlash. Like the queer community is mostly over that idea. And so, it’s this mainstream kind of people who are trying to. Normal, you know, and there’s, but there’s so much coming out now, right?
Like kink is becoming more acceptable and polyamory is becoming more acceptable. And so, there are other leading bleeding edges that are available for people to freak out about. And so being non-binary it’s like, well, we’ve been talking about gender as a spectrum for 15 or 20 years easily. And so, there’s a lot.
There’s a lot of evidence. There’s a lot of like, this person was obviously non-binary kind of stuff that’s out there already.
You know, a lot of research, a lot of folks finding like places in religious scriptures where people can reference actual religious figures who are non-binary in some way or other.
And so, I think. I think there’s less of it, but I definitely, I see what you’re saying that like that, there’s this idea that, oh, well it’s just trendy to be transgender now and everybody’s gonna do it. Like, listen, this is a pain in the ass. You super, aren’t gonna do it. If it’s not absolutely the right thing for you.
And so many people in the trans community come in and leave and come in and leave. It’s sort of a cat door thing for a while because it’s difficult. It’s uncomfortable for a lot of people. It means that they lose their primary relationship. For a lot of people, it means that they have to go into a custody battle.
They lose their housing, or they have to go through a major upheaval of, you know, cities and states and like they have to come out at work. And how does that work out if you live in a conservative place, you know, it. There’s so much that people are challenged by it. So, all of that is out there. So, let me just pause here.
I don’t tend to like, just talk and then not talk. So, so
let me pause here and see what else, what other thoughts or ideas or questions folks wanna throw into the pot before I keep talking?
[00:17:33] Aurora: And when I was growing up and I had some friends who were bisexual, I know at the time my mom had a hard time.
Understanding that like, why, you know, wouldn’t you choose the path that’s easier. Right. You know, and it’s not that easy. And I know things have evolved dramatically since then. but that’s the kind of thing with the trending of like, well, you know, all these people were bisexual then, but they might not be bisexual now, but they probably are.
They just picked they’re just in relationships now. And so, they don’t necessarily have to, they’re not necessarily talking about it anymore because they might be in a relationship. And so, it’s not. As out there as it was when they were, when we were teen. So that’s kind of the, one of the pieces of bisexuality that I thought was interesting, but I agree.
I mean, we’ve evolved a lot more around that, but I see a lot of people seeing that as a trend in terms of the gender stuff and. And I can see that because the large in the alternative school that my, my kid’s at now, there is a very large percentage of gender questioning kids. And I mean, it’s, I think, you know, they’re feeling safe to do that, which I think is a good thing, but it is the, a dramatic increase.
People are more aware of it as something to explore. So
[00:18:48] Leela: Yeah, a number of a huge number of people that I know who are trans arrive at transness saying, I didn’t even know it was an option. Most of the trans folks I know because of my own orientation,
most of the trans folks I know are transmasculine and trans feminine folk have much better visibility.
So even as trans identities become more visible, there are an enormous number of people who are. They grew up thinking, wow, I wish I could be a trans woman. They get to transition and not realizing that maybe they wanted to go the other way. And so, it’s really interesting. That’s something else that I haven’t to talk about is how we have access to neuro divergent, friendly sexuality, education.
And how people do or don’t find out that it’s a possibility to be queer. That it’s a possibility to be trans. That it’s a possibility to be all the rest of the alphabet soup. Mariah says in Spokane, we have a poly politician considering a run for county commissioner, and the entire left is having to grapple with what that is, what it will mean, right.
Respectability politics. Holy crap. What a thing to deal with, and that intersects with this queerness and neurodivergence thing too, right? Like, well, we don’t wanna have a disabled queer. We don’t wanna have a neuro divergent queer as the face of whatever. Like
If we’re gonna put a queer up front, they have to be able, queer representation is overwhelmingly biased toward a very particular kinds of body types, very particular kinds of gender presentations.
There’s one kind of androgyny that’s okay. And it’s skinny and white and like no older than 35. Right. And all the other kinds of androgyny are marginalized in spaces that are, I have a whole ranch about this, but we’re not gonna go there. In spaces that are for women and non-binary people, which is well so problematic.
The challenge for assigned male at birth non-binary people coming into those spaces, especially if their presentation looks more masculine is huge, right? So, we have like this idea of inclusion and then we have what we’re actually willing to put out in public because we feel like it makes us respectable.
And, you know, these, this kind of choice making, especially in public political spaces, goes all the way back, goes all the way back really. But, you know, we see an example of it with Rosa parks. I forget her first name Colvin the 15-year-old pregnant teenager who did it like three months before Rosa parks, but they decided not to make her the face of the movement because she was 15 and pregnant and they were trying to make a political decision to make the best and how that would affect the community.
But also, that means that in history, we’re not remembering her. As a pioneer, which we should.
Mariah says I should have invited my mom to this talk to she’s down. I had to explain kink to her the other month. And fortunately, she got it pretty quickly. She’s 74. Awesome. That’s great. I mean, there are definitely like the leaders, the sexuality educators, the leaders are communities are of that generation, right.
There are our parents gen, my parents’ generation. My mom is in her late seventies. My dad is 80. So, you know, and I’m grateful for that. And of course, the aids. Killed off. Most of our elders, many of our, not all of them, but many of our elders got killed off or burned out in the epidemic. You know, the lesbians were taking care of the gay men in many cases, that’s the only people who would do it.
And so, you know, it’s good that we have elders. We should have a lot more elders. And that, you know, being in solidarity, being in inclusion, having people remember that there has been a pandemic in living memory because people are like, oh, there hasn’t been a pandemic since 1918. I’m like, are you sure though?
that’s not how I remember it. Carrie says, this feels like an ignorant question to someone that doesn’t have kids. What percentage of kids wonder about their gender identity? It is going up exponentially. I don’t have kids either, but my experience. My friends, kids and my communities, kids is that gender fluidity and gender questioning and things related to that are probably, this is a number I’m pulling outta my ass, but it feels to me like it’s at 50% or higher, like
It feels to me like most kids are like, huh, what pronouns should I use?
What gender am. I think I’m gonna try this pronoun for a while. Okay. Mom, and that’s, I’m sure influenced by the fact that all the people I know are like liberal sexuality educators, Unitarian Universalists, like the people that I know that are parenting or parenting in very particular ways. But the number of kids that you hear about that are like, no, I’m a boy.
I know you think I’m a girl, but I’m a boy. It seems to be extremely high at this point. Yes, Aurora I think they’re taking gender identity less for granted. I think that’s absolutely. And the other thing again, bringing it back to neuro divergence and queerness is as we become less pathologizing of neuro divergence.
And as we offer neuro divergent kids, better structures. More nourishing structures for them, for their brains. They’re going to develop into the robustness of their neuro divergence. And this kind of goes to Leo, what you were saying about all the things that we can love about ourselves and the ways that we are and the ways that our brains are.
We can, as kids move into the robustness of their neuro divergence earlier, they’re more likely to understand what all the implications are and they’re spending less time and energy masking.
They’re spending less time and energy trying to be different from who they are.
So, they’re spending more time and energy asking who they really are and then expressing that and feeling safe, hopefully with the adults in their lives.
To interact around that and to express that and to ask for what they need around that, you know, younger kids asking for, you know, clothing, that’s not the gender that they’re assigned at birth, you know, asking for haircuts, asking for color changes. One of my friends is she and I have known each other in a bunch of different contexts over the years.
And she has her youngest kid came out as non-binary, when they were like, I wanna say eight. And that kid is now 13. And just watching this kid grow up in a fully nourishing environment where they know that their older sister is lesbian and their older brother is neuro divergent. Their mom is a really well educated, really inclusive Unitarian Universalist doctor.
And having that space to just be like, this is who I am. This child has an amazing sense of style, has an amazing like confidence and panache. And I’m like how many more kids would be like that if they had that, you know,
How many of the adults would’ve been like that, if it had that nourishing environment?
I’m watching the chat scroll Aurora has posted a Ted talk that addresses the why Carrie says on the sex and the city reboot, one of the kids in the show has been questioning their identity.
Awesome. You know, that’s, I think we’re getting to the mainstream rep with. A little bit less of the mockery stage. So, there are these stages that we go through in media representation with minority and oppressed cultures of various kinds. And you, it’s kind of, there’s a whole series of stages.
There’s a lot of media theory out there. If you look it up, but there’s this stage where they’re like background characters, and then there’s a stage where they’re brought toward the foreground, but whoever it is. Kind of the butt of every joke. And then there’s this stage where they’re the sidekick and there’s sort of the humor and they’re, then they’re the stupid one.
And then, you know, like eventually you end up with somebody who can actually like be a leading character, but it takes decades. And decades, or at least it has historically.
And I think that non-binary rep has gotten, has moved much faster, which is really encouraging because even when we were doing queer rep, it was still, we went through all those stages very slowly and it was extremely painful for most of us who were watching it.
So, seeing it move more fast and more fluidly forward is really encouraging. Mariah says what a rarefied family. Yeah. I. This friend of mine is extraordinary. Just an extraordinary human being. Linda says as a young adult at a UU religious education training, a few of us discovered we were a subset of women who did not fit stereotypes.
Loved math, never went to the bathroom as a group, separated from our mothers. More like the. The young is that male stereotype offered, led to a good discussion in the early eighties. Yeah. I mean, when I was in the early nineties in a youth space, I know we did a lot of gender fishbowls. So, we would put the, like all the boys in the center and all the girls on the outside and the boys would have a discussion that the girls could listen to, but not participate in.
And then the girls had the opportunity to ask a question and then we would flip. And those were really good for breaking down a whole bunch of gender bullshit.
And that was the goal, right?
We wanted people to find out how their experiences were different because socialization, but also find out how their experiences were the same or where we could build bridges across the gap.
And even though I wasn’t questioning my gender at that time I was already, I wasn’t out yet, but I was definitely coming to queer ways of thinking and being able to be in those spaces and in those conversations and find them safe enough to say and do and watch. As I was like, you know, I’ve been saying that boys and girls are basically the same since I was a very small child.
And look at this, they’re basically the same. We’re basically the same, except for experiences of culturalization, which are bullshit, which is why we’re having these conversations. Carrie says what an amazing gift for these kiddos to grow up in such accepting and loving homes. I started re-watching the TV show wings, and I had to stop watching it.
So many cringy jokes about homosexuality. I don’t remember wings, but that’s true of a lot of like eighties and 90. TV shows you watch ’em and you’re like, oh God, a says, “I’m wondering now how one could facilitate similar discussions without being so binary.” You know, there are, I think there are a bunch of different ways that one could do that.
I don’t know what the youth are doing these days because I haven’t been involved in youth leadership, but that’s where I would go first. I would go find your UU youth and ask them if they’re having conversations like that at all. And if they are what those conversations look. You can, I think that easiest way would just be to do it with three groups.
And to say that, you know, you’ve got people who identify in this gender bucket, people who identify in that gender bucket and people who identify in neither gender bucket, because there is a lot about non-binary experience and identity that bridges, even though, there are a lot of different.
Subcategories of non-binary identity. I think one of the other things I wanna bring up before I Lord it’s almost 11. O’clock
One of the other things I wanna bring up before we stop is just the ways in which pathologizing either queerness or neuro divergence can affect our ability to access resources and care.
Because when I brought this up in the other group that I’m part of, which has only 250 active like conversing members, although the group itself is it’s like many large groups. We have a lot of quiet members. We’re about 950. So, the large body of people who potentially could have contributed to the conversation, you know, people talked about ways that people pathologize their queerness as part of their mental.
People talked about how, if they revealed that they were autistic or had some other mental health challenge that then they were told that they couldn’t make their own decisions, that they couldn’t possibly know what their own identity was with regard to their gender or their queerness. That it was it’s really been used as a; this intersection has been used as a gate keeping and control tool.
We talked earlier about how queer representation is almost always neurotypical enabled in queer culture.
Often medicalization is the enemy because we’ve been trying and trying to get it, be, get it to not be a mental health disorder to be queer. And for neuro divergent folks, often we benefit from meds or from specialized treatment or from supports of some kind.
That because our culture is the way it is. We kind of, we consider to be related to disability and we hold those things. Those supports under medicalization of our mental conditions. And so, this conflict between medicalization being. The enemy of our identity and embracing our identities and medicalization may be the path.
And it’s true in queerness too. Right? You might need your condition medicalized and diagnosed in order to access, especially trans healthcare, but having to navigate that. And then when you think about things like depression and anxiety, which sometimes people do really great on meds and sometimes meds are definitely not the right solution.
And sometimes the right external chemical solution is not even legal. Right. There’s so many different pieces of this and navigating that, especially navigating bureaucracy.
If you have executive function issues like that specific problem makes it really challenging for us to access care and makes us really need supports in order to do this easily.
Can we bump our way through maybe sort of some of the time, but getting supports around various kinds of executive function things and knowing how to even help each other? Like, I am terrible about filling my own pill boxes, but my autistic partner finds it really soothing to go through last, put all the pills in the right boxes and so they do it for me because they wanna support me, you know, and I’m taking like all kinds.
Unusual supplements because I’m working with a functional medicine doctor, because again, medicalization is complicated, but you know, they’re like, okay, I have done a thing. It is helpful to you. It is very soothingly, concrete. And having that kind of support is wonderful.
[00:32:22] Aurora: I, that just made me think of your, the quote that I pulled from your thing about building castles in the sky.
And it, that conversation went on to talk about the intensive versus expansive, but I think this is true of different neuro divergence as well. And that was, you know, that we liked to start fires and then, you know, have someone else tend them. But I think. One of the things when we find balancing neuro divergencies is sometimes, you know, like that is a perfect example.
What you shared with your partner is that there’s certain things, you know, some of us may not be great with this, but then someone else might, you know, so I think that’s a great example.
[00:32:58] Leela: And sometimes it’s a learned skill. My other partner is a government employee and has been. Well over almost two decades.
And so, when I have paperwork that feels overwhelming, I will send her a copy and I’ll be like, Hey listen, can you help me with this? Cause paperwork is not my friend. And she’s like, oh yeah, no problem. Like it’s a language. She speaks. It’s something she understands. And I support them in my own ways but having the ability to recognize that even if you have the same diagnosis, You might have different skill sets.
And even if you have the same set of identities, You might not function exactly the same way you might need different things.
And I think our broader culture’s desire to dump us all into a neuro divergent bucket, queer bucket, and be like, all queer people are like this, all neuro divergent people are like that.
And it’s like, but no, actually I know that you’re second cousin, three times removed who is, you know, autistic behaves in this way. But that doesn’t mean that everybody you meet who’s autistic is gonna behave in that way. A note here about ABA. It mostly there’s some dispute, but not very much. Mostly ABA causes PTSD symptoms and PTSD symptoms look an awful lot like autistic behavior.
So, when we think about autistic behavior specifically often, one of the things that we have to think about is it autism or is it C PTSD caused by being autistic in the cultural space that we’re in? And, you know, the last thing is accessibility is often not accounted for in queer support structures and spaces.
So, somebody says, okay, we’ve got a queer helpline. Well, that’s great until you’re nonverbal when you’re stressed out. And part of it is that we don’t have a lot of resources. So, you know,
As communities, we tend to be under resourced as neuro divergent communities, we tend to be under resourced and as queer communities.
We tend to be under. And so, and often it’s resources that make it possible to make things more accessible that make it possible to make the gaps smaller that make it possible for us to bridge that the space between us and the world more easily. There are a lot of things you can throw money at that make them better.
And so, we have to also think about, for those of us who have access to resources, how can we share those resources? And when we are having a problem, is this a problem that we could throw money at and it would go away? And if so how do we wrangle that money out of the larger system and into spaces where we can access it?
Because sometimes it’s as simple as having a social worker. Who can navigate all of the ridiculous phone calls that need to be made for someone to get access to the resources they need. Sometimes it’s having social spaces. Sometimes it’s having community spaces.
All of those things can make our lives so much better because we have access to other people that normalize who and how we are, or other people that understand us well enough to support us.
That’s kind of the end of my list. That was helpful.
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