Note For Anyone Writing About Me

Guide to Writing About Me

I am an Autistic person,not a person with autism. I am also not Aspergers. The diagnosis isn't even in the DSM anymore, and yes, I agree with the consolidation of all autistic spectrum stuff under one umbrella. I have other issues with the DSM.

I don't like Autism Speaks. I'm Disabled, not differently abled, and I am an Autistic activist. Self-advocate is true, but incomplete.

Citing My Posts

MLA: Zisk, Alyssa Hillary. "Post Title." Yes, That Too. Day Month Year of post. Web. Day Month Year of retrieval.

APA: Zisk, A. H. (Year Month Day of post.) Post Title. [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Friday, December 19, 2014

Some Gender(ed) Experiences

Last post I mentioned that yes, I use sie/sier/siers pronouns talking about myself in third person. Depending on how familiar people are with queer stuff, you might have wondered if I'm nonbinary. The answer is yes.

Some folks might ask if autism is making me confused about my gender... that answer is also yes, in a sense- I'm pretty sure "I'm Autistic" occupies about the same area that "I am whatever gender" occupies in most people's minds, and I'm not sure if that means I don't have a gender or if that means autism is my gender or what. It definitely means "not binary." Since autism isn't detachable, autism leaving me a bit confused about the specifics of my gender doesn't change the fact that I'm nonbinary!

(Also, it might be neuronormativity confusing me- if autism taking up the gender slot were a possibility more people talked about as a real and legit thing rather than it being part of "failure to conform to gender expectations" and therefore something needing to be fixed, I might have an answer as to what gender that means I have or don't have, and then I wouldn't be confused!)

But this post isn't meant to be about exactly what kind of nonbinary I am. It's about how this has affected my experience with gendered stuff.

I've been told that when I was very little, preschool age approximately, I quit my ballet class because it was a girls only class. I definitely didn't have the words to explain it at the time, and I don't have the memory to tell you now, but my guess is that my discomfort with women-only spaces due to not actually being a woman goes back that far.

You see, I'm nonbinary. I am not a woman, and I am not a man. I am Autistic. (See also: autism as gender.) And this was really confusing before I knew I was autistic, because how the heck am I supposed to explain why "You're not really a girl" isn't a dire insult if I don't know what I actually am?

In middle school, I was the only not-boy at my lunch table. Many of the tables were all boys or all girls, and I've generally been more comfortable as the only person in a group to be read as a woman than in a group where everyone is read as a woman. It took a while to figure out why this was,  but I do think I have a handle on it now.

When everyone in a group, including me, is being read as women, the assumption is that I am the same gender as everyone else in the group. This is false! This is really, really false! I am not a woman. When everyone in the group except for me is being read as a man, the assumption is that I am the only person of my gender in the group. This is usually true! There could be nonbinary folk being assumed men in the group, but since as far as I know, I've yet to meet anyone of my particular flavor of nonbinary in person, I think it's always been true to date.

Because when I am in a group that is all men except for me, including doing so in direct defiance of prerequisites (so the course catalog at my old high school still says tenor bass choir male members of chorus in good standing, and I am not a man,) everyone realizes that I'm not the same gender as the others in the space. Not so when everyone's presumed to be a woman.

This isn't actually the same thing as "not like other girls," by the way. Not like other girls implies that I am one too, and, well, I'm not. I get mistaken for one a lot, which is different from actually being one.

It's also not the same as not liking to be around women. Women are great! I'm just not one of them.

(Oh, and to Dan's parents: This is why I was totally fine with Dan saying I wasn't really a girl. It's because he was right.)


  1. It has been very strange watching so many people talking about gender and autism in the past few years, very unpleasant in a lot of ways. I'm not comfortable with how easily people are splitting autism into two separate gendered categories, for instance. Or how people, autism professionals mostly it seems, are using autism as a means of explaining supposed gender differences.

    It has been interesting to me now that I am interacting with the trans community as for sure not an outsider, just how often the things I was told were autism get overturned. Often, very aggressively so. The trans communities I have been interacting with do not think autism is the source of my gender "issues" at all, though it is clear that autism (and autism professionals, and prevailing theories on autism) gets in the way of my understanding of my gender identity.

    I am beginning to think that autism does not cause any gender differences at all. The difference between being "not like the other girls" and "not like girls", as you say, this I think is not autism. This is I think gender identity differences, exacerbated by autism perhaps but not because of autism. Autism does seem to affect the *intensity* on gender differences that someone experiences though, and that makes a lot of sense to me from a hypersensitive/hyposensitive perspective. Autism does that with other things, such as sensory perception. I think autism causes people to not conform in general because of the intensity of the pain that conformity causes, and autism intensifies that pain as it does with everything else.

    It is for me very much like straddling a boundary, one foot in each world, a bit of understanding of and relating to both. The two combined made a real mess of my life far beyond what either one individually would have though, that's for sure. And I think being autistic has made me much more sensitive to the effects of gender dysphoria and has intensified my gender identity differences. But it does bother me, this extensive and increasing conflation of autism and gender identity differences. The root of it seems to be the idea that autism causes problems with conformity to gender roles as being a criterie for autism, I think that was a mistake.

    I respect your right to disagree. I am not sure if you do or not, but I want to make sure that you know that I believe it is fine if you do. I am not interested in or trying to invalidate your self-identification. If autism is your gender, then I can accept that. It doesn't make sense to me given what I know of autism and gender, but that doesn't matter. My internal gender identity does not make sense to most people either. I hope you are not hurt by my words.

  2. I'm now confused about what your actual pronouns are, because the blurb at the top of the page uses "her"

    1. Recent change, haven't updated all FAQ and page side stuff yet.
      I use sie/sier/siers talking about myself in third person, but I am not particularly picky about what other people do beyond not wanting to be an "it."

  3. "When everyone in a group, including me, is being read as women, the assumption is that I am the same gender as everyone else in the group. This is false! This is really, really false! I am not a woman. When everyone in the group except for me is being read as a man, the assumption is that I am the only person of my gender in the group. This is usually true!"

    Hey, you're putting words to my own experience, thank you! I think the way you say it in this post is the closest to how I feel about these things that I've ever read.


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