I am very excited to be blogging for Bitch and for the opportunity to lend my voice to discussion about representations of autistic sexuality (and lack thereof) in popular media.
To be fair, we have a hard time making ourselves known and heard outside of autistic spaces, particularly if we what have to say isn't what the non-autistic mainstream wants to hear and/or if we have to convey our thoughts and convictions through unconventional means.
Those autistic people who are visible within mainstream discourse are tokenized and tend to support a paradigm that pathologizes, others, and silences any but the most "high-functioning" autists.
For example, in his latest book, , John Elder-Robison completely dismisses nonverbal autists and—despite the title—actively advises young "Aspergians" to avoid being too different and to essentially be as un-autistic as possible.
I have found that confronting popular representations of and attitudes toward autistic gender and sexuality often means being the "bad guy" and laying into stories, articles, and works that are perceived to be beyond reproach.
For example, take a look at this piece on "Navigating Love and Autism" that ran last week in the as part of a series on autism.
I would like to say that I am happy for Jack (who happens to be John Elder-Robison's son) and Kirsten, and certainly wish them no ill.
Yet I find this ostensibly "uplifting" article incredibly frustrating.
It has the usual gawking, othering tone, and the usual dehumanizing rhetoric like: Gender normativity and backhanded homophobia in one "blunt tip." This is a statement made as part of a presentation in front of a group of young people with autism.
No further comment is made on the remark in the article, but it is deeply troubling.
Not only are gay, lesbian, and trans* autists ignored and erased in the piece, we're actively shamed.
There must have been young women in the audience during Jack and Kirsten's presentation who just feel more comfortable, more like themselves, in "man pants." There must have been young adults who are gay and/or genderqueer or trans*, or who are unsure of and are exploring their identities.