Those who identify as transgender are significantly overrepresented by autistic children, according to research and medical professionals, the Daily Caller reported over the weekend.
The professionals added that autism spectrum traits — such as obsessive thinking, vulnerability to body image issues and a sense of social rejection and isolation during adolescence — make them particularly vulnerable to thought patterns that can lead youth to seek gender transitions.
Dr. Susan Bradley, a Canadian psychiatrist and expert in treating gender dysphoria, told the Gender Development Identity Service at Tavistock, the largest pediatric gender clinic in the world, that most pediatric gender patients are actually on the autism spectrum and are being exploited by medical professionals.
Bradley chaired the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) IV Subcommittee on Gender Disorders, the official manual of the American Psychiatric Association, which is used for classifying and diagnosing mental disorders.
Bradley explained that children with traits of high-functioning autism "have early difficulty with social understanding and the feeling that they don't fit in; they struggle to understand that they are different in a certain kind of way that other people don't understand either, and they often feel left out in peer groups."
She added that "many of them don't have a good friend. They'll often say other kids tease them or leave them out. These kids are even less well equipped than your average teen to manage strong feelings, and they just get totally disregulated at times. That's why they become so much more vulnerable. They get suicidal; they get anxious, depressed, very down on themselves."
Bradley told the DCNF that "when somebody happens to mention that ... they're trans or they hear about trans kids and go online, even if all they do is say, 'I wonder if I'm trans,' a lot of these kids are automatically accepted ... And for them, that is a very helpful reaction, because all of a sudden, they feel as though that explains all of the trouble all the way along."
Dr. Lawrence Fung, a psychiatrist at Stanford University, told NPR that there may be a biological factor that encourages autistic people to identify as transgender and believes autistic people tend to be more androgynous.
He added that "females on the spectrum seem to have more testosterone and masculine features on their faces. On the other hand, males on the autism spectrum ... have more feminine features."
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health, which backs medical transitions for minors, agrees that "autistic/neurodivergent transgender youth represent a substantial minority subpopulation of youth served in gender clinics globally," and the group encourages providers to seek additional training on the needs of their autistic patients in its latest standards of care.
Brian Freeman ✉
Brian Freeman, a Newsmax writer based in Israel, has more than three decades writing and editing about culture and politics for newspapers, online and television.
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