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The Cohort: The Autistic, Same-Sex Attracted and/or Abused Child

Evidence is emerging that the majority of children presenting to gender clinics:


  • have Autism Spectrum Disorder;

  • are same-sex attracted; and/or

  • have been subject to childhood maltreatment and abuse.


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)


As mentioned in the AWW Autism page, the rates of suspected autism for minors with gender dysphoria have ranged from 20% to 50%.


Whilst the evidence for a link between ASD and gender dysphoria is growing, the reasons for such a link are not clear. There are a number of hypotheses (see this Aug 2022 study for a summary of these) being discussed at present and include:


  • rigid black and white thinking that is characteristic of ASD might lead people with mild or moderate gender nonconformity to believe that they are not the sex with which they were born;

  • the belief that autistic children have a tendency to get obsessed or fixated on something and may latch on to gender;

  • sensory processing being a driver for gender dysphoria. The theory proposes that a need for certain sensory input may explain gender-related obsessions, such as a preference for glitter and soft clothes;

  • theory of mind deficits. This explanation hypothesises that the ability to attribute mental states, such as desires, emotions, beliefs, or intents, to oneself and others is deficient in ASD people. Accordingly, they do not internalize stereotypical attributes to their sex;

  • the “feeling different” theory proposes ASD people have a lower affiliation with gender groups compared to neurotypical people.


Many practitioners are alarmed at the ease at which ASD children are being medically transitioned. For instance, Child psychiatrist, Susan Bradley, who has many years of experience with gender dysphoric children, has stated:


Activists would have the public believe that anyone who expresses a wish to be the other gender should be allowed and encouraged to do so. Credulous politicians have translated their demands into law. To date, however, there is no evidence that there is such a thing as a “true” trans, just as there is no marker that would identify a “false” trans. To accept the thinking and wishes of those with ASD at face value, without understanding why they feel the way they do, is not a kindness, and may in fact be extremely damaging.


Concern that autistic people are being medically transitioned is growing. This concern is starting to be reflected in legislation, with the State of Missouri in the US banning medical transition for ALL autistic people, children and adults.


We ask you to examine:


AWW Autism page;


Michael Cook, Mercatornet 20 Jan 2017 The increasingly convincing link between autism and gender dysphoric kids;


Christina Buttons 25 March 2023 How Autistic Traits Can Be Mistaken for Gender Dysphoria;


Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 20 May 2022: Autism Spectrum Disorder and Gender Dysphoria/Incongruence. A Systematic Literature Review and Meta-Analysis.



Same-Sex Attracted


Our LGB Page details the strong correlation between gender dysphoria and lesbian, gay or bisexual outcomes. The evidence for this correlation continues to grow. Additionally, homophobia appears to be playing a part in the decision to transition children. In this regard, it is worth reviewing the disturbing testimonies by practitioners at the now closed Tavistock Gender Clinic in the UK.


In her book, Time to Think, The Inside Story of the Collapse of the Tavistock’s Gender Service for Children 2023, Hannah Barnes, with her access to thousands of pages of documents and over a hundred hours of personal testimony, has documented the medical scandal of how thousands of children were prescribed puberty blockers and cross sex hormones.


It has become apparent that homophobia was a factor in young people and/or their parents driving the young person to transition. One employee has stated that he came to view the clinic as “institutionally homophobic”, with homophobic comments from young people themselves, or their families, being an almost daily occurrence (page 160).


Another employee confirmed that homophobia was “everywhere” and it manifested itself in many different ways. Such ways include “completely silencing people who are gay” or “it could be dismissing the reality that sexuality can play a role in how someone identifies” (page 160).


The data, albeit very small (as The Tavistock Clinic failed to keep much data), is sobering. When older adolescent patients were asked in 2012 about who they were attracted to, over 90% of natal females reported that they were same-sex attracted or bisexual. Just 8.5% were attracted to males. For the natal males, 80.8% reported being same-sex attracted or bisexual, and 19.2% were attracted to females. The incomplete data from 2015 shows 60% of natal males were same-sex attracted or bisexual, 30% were attracted to females and the remainder were asexual. For females, over 50% were same-sex attracted, just under 20% were bisexual and 25% were attracted to males (pages 161-2).


Hannah Barnes has reported that most of the Tavistock clinicians were concerned about homophobia or inadequate exploration of young peoples’ sexuality, whether they were LGB or otherwise.


We ask you to examine:


Our LGB Page;


We recommend you read Time to Think, The Inside Story of the Collapse of the Tavistock’s Gender Service for Children 2023.



Childhood Maltreatment and Abuse


It has been regularly reported that a number of children presenting to gender clinics and other practitioners have experienced some form of childhood maltreatment and abuse. For example, at the Tavistock Clinic, it was noted that, with some young people, the dysphoria appeared to have been immediately preceded by a traumatic event, such as the loss of a parent or a sexual assault (see page 158 in Time to Think, The Inside Story of the Collapse of the Tavistock’s Gender Service for Children 2023).


A gender service situated in The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, NSW, Australia examined the clinical characteristics of children presenting with gender dysphoria. This study found that the developmental stories told by the children and their families highlighted high rates of adverse childhood experiences, with family conflict (65.8%), parental mental illness (63.3%), loss of important figures via separation (59.5%), and bullying (54.4%) being most common. A history of maltreatment was also common (39.2%).


Accordingly, the study’s authors have highlighted the need to involve a biopsychosocial, trauma-informed model of mental health care for children presenting with gender dysphoria. They state that ongoing therapeutic work needs to address unresolved trauma and loss, the maintenance of subjective well-being, and the development of self.


We ask you to examine:


Childhood Sexual Abuse, Gender Dysphoria, and Transition Regret: Billy’s Story, Walt Heyer 26 March 2018;


Australian children and adolescents with gender dysphoria: Clinical presentations and challenges experienced by a multidisciplinary team and gender service, Kasia Kozlowska et al 2021;


Attachment Patterns and Complex Trauma in a Sample of Adults Diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria, 2018. Whilst this study makes no comment on the causal relationships between GD, trauma and attachment, it was found that, overall, the 95 adults that took part in the study suffered from severe neglect, rejection and psychological abuse as children. The attachment distribution was 27% secure, 27% insecure and 46% disorganized. Regarding early traumas, 56% experienced four or more traumatic forms. The authors stated that “Within psychological assessment and support, we believe that attachment and trauma investigation could play a crucial role in bringing to light conflicts and defences that may interfere with a free exploration of gender identity”.

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