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Neurodivergent Queers

By Laura Newberry, ACSW

As the conversation around neurodivergence really took off a few years go, I began to notice that a lot of folks in my queer community were autistic or had ADHD. But it wasn’t until recently that research has begun validating this knowing that so many of us who are LGBTQIAS2+ have had for a long time, either because we live at this intersection ourselves or have friends who do.Rates of autism among gender diverse young people range from 6 to 26% depending on the study, compared to 6% in the general population. One study found that trans and gender-nonconforming people are 3 to 6 times more likely to be autistic than cisgender people. People with ADHD are also much more likely to report being gender diverse. 

As the conversation around neurodivergence really took off a few years go, I began to notice that a lot of folks in my queer community were autistic or had ADHD. But it wasn’t until recently that research has begun validating this knowing that so many of us who are LGBTQIAS2+ have had for a long time, either because we live at this intersection ourselves or have friends who do.Rates of autism among gender diverse young people range from 6 to 26% depending on the study, compared to 6% in the general population. One study found that trans and gender-nonconforming people are 3 to 6 times more likely to be autistic than cisgender people. People with ADHD are also much more likely to report being gender diverse. 

As the conversation around neurodivergence really took off a few years go, I began to notice that a lot of folks in my queer community were autistic or had ADHD. But it wasn’t until recently that research has begun validating this knowing that so many of us who are LGBTQIAS2+ have had for a long time, either because we live at this intersection ourselves or have friends who do.Rates of autism among gender diverse young people range from 6 to 26% depending on the study, compared to 6% in the general population. One study found that trans and gender-nonconforming people are 3 to 6 times more likely to be autistic than cisgender people. People with ADHD are also much more likely to report being gender diverse. 

Why are so many queer and trans people neurodivergent?

There’s a big need for more research on this overlap. But so far, one of the running theories is that because neurodivergent people often don’t fit social norms, they’re more free to explore their gender and sexuality. Neurodiverse people just don’t value simplistic boxes of identity in the same way that many neurotypical folks do. Though this intersectional identity is doubly marginalized, I also believe it can be doubly liberating. Our bruised, beautiful world needs more people who can see beyond the binary. As bell hooks eloquently put it: “…queer as not about who you’re having sex with, that can be a dimension of it, but queer as being about the self that is at odds with everything around it and has to invent and create and find a place to speak and to thrive and to live.”


Finding the right care

If you’re queer and neurodivergent, finding a therapist who will affirm these parts of your identity is really important. A potential therapist should be able to show that they understand the following about being a neuroqueer:Unique Challenges: You might struggle with social interactions, communication, sensory sensitivities, identifying and sharing your emotions, and self-expression. These challenges can intersect with the complexities of navigating LGBTQ spaces, relationships, and societal acceptance, leading to specific support needs.Mental Health: Queer and trans folks, particularly those who are neurodivergent, may be at a higher risk for mental health challenges like depression, anxiety, and social isolation. Discrimination, stigma, and lack of understanding can contribute to thes disparities. Therapy that’s sensitive to both queer and neurodivergent identities is essential to addressing these issues.Strengths and Resilience: Many neurodivergent individuals possess unique talents, perspectives, and creative abilities that contribute positively to the LGBTQIAS2+ community and society as a whole.Our therapists provide an affirming space for queer people of all neurotypes. If you’re interested in learning more about our therapy services, reach out. 

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Questions, concerns or need support?


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© 2023 EXPANSIVE THERAPY | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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