“So here it is. My friends call me he, or they. The government and most of my family call me she. The media calls me she, because I don’t trust them enough to request that they do anything else. My lovers call me sweetheart. Or baby. Somewhere in all of that I find myself.”
― Ivan Coyote, Writer and LGBT advocate
May 17 marks the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. As a neurodiverse coach, this has a special resonance with me as I’m aware of the intersectionality of LGBTQ+ people and neurodivergence. Some, such as Lydia X. Z. Brown, a disabled and queer policy advocate, attorney, and expert, have argued that this is because neurodivergent people are already questioning so-called ‘norms’. So they’re not afraid of being true to themselves and embracing a non-conforming gender identity or sexuality.
A study in 2021 by the UK’s Cambridge University found that adults and adolescents with autism are approximately eight times more likely to identify as asexual and ‘other’ sexuality than their non-autistic peers. Elizabeth Weir, a PhD candidate at the Autism Research Centre in Cambridge, and the lead researcher of the study said: “Understanding the intersectional identities of autistic individuals who are asexual, bisexual, homosexual, or ‘other’ sexuality is key. It is particularly important that healthcare providers and educators use language that is affirming and accepting of all sexual orientations and gender identities when providing sexual education and sexual health screening checks to autistic and non-autistic people alike.” (Link to study)
So on this International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia let’s remember that people who are neurodivergent and who are also part of the LGBTQ+ community face the discrimination for living outside society’s norms. Acceptance of sexuality, gender identity, and neurodivergence is crucial for the well-being of those involved and is also imperative to society as a whole. And in terms of work cultures, employing people who actively question norms is a effective way to spark innovation through the generation of new ideas and new methods. So let’s celebrate differences because by embracing our uniqueness, we make room for discoveries.