Gender, Noses and Strange Alien Geometries

I”m a boy with really long hair.  Yes I still say “boy” not “man” even though I’m 30.  I just don’t believe in my own maturity enough to call myself a man with a straight face.  It’s hard to say or type things that I don’t mean, like physically hard in a way that I’m sure I’ll get around to explaining.  Sometimes I can call myself a “guy” but this is not one of those times.  I’ve taken to calling all male humans boys and all female humans girls, regardless of age, in response to this difficulty.  Dear reader, please don’t be offended if I refer to mature adults in this fashion in what follows.

Enough Background: Now For Something That Happened Yesterday

Yesterday, some teenagers on the street mistook me for a girl and apologized.  I didn’t actually hear what they said while they were misinterpreting me, but I heard the apology.  I found that I wasn’t upset that they though I was a girl, but was a bit deflated that they apologized.  This is the sort of reaction that when I tell my friends about it, it makes tell me I’m probably transgendered.  A somewhat more convincing example is when I got my genome tested.  I was disappointed to be confirmed to be XY.  I was sort of holding out hope that I was XX and was biologically male because of some weird hormone disturbance.  That would have made me feel really good, in the way that explanations feel good, especially publicly accessible ones do.  Stuff like this keeps happening.

It’s not so much that I’m not sure I agree that I’m transgendered as I’m not sure I understand the question.  I’m fairly sure I would prefer to be a girl, especially if I can somehow have been a girl all along and avoid the awkwardness of a change.  But I understand that that’s not the same thing.  I certainly feel like I fit female stereotypes at least somewhat better than male ones and this becomes especially true if you discount things that seem to be the direct results of being treated as male (ie. people buy me male clothes and I wear them.)  But I don’t fit either very well.  I’d certainly be a weird girl as much as I am a weird boy.

There has been some discussion lately about people who are female and autistic having a different presentation, and I do fit the female autistic pattern pretty well.  Let me run down a list of female autism traits in a relatively reputable site and compare them to me:

From http://www.help4aspergers.com/pb/wp_a58d4f6a/wp_a58d4f6a.html

list credited to Rudy Simone

Usually a little more expressive in face and gesture than male counterparts

Well I actually exaggerate facial expressions and intonations a lot in order to express myself better so I certainly qualify.  On the other hand, I learned to do that from my girlfriend in high school, who is also Autistic.  I wanted to be like her.  On the elephant’s trunk (I’m out of hands) wanting to be like her is not exactly not a sign.

Better at mirroring than many males and so able to mirror many types of personalities.  Hence females may not have a strong sense of identity and can be very chameleon-like especially before diagnosis.

Definitely that.  I used to think I had multiple personality disorder.  I was always afraid to introduce friends to each other.

Will have obsessions, but they are not as abstruse or unusual as her male counterpart’s and tend to be more practical.

I have no idea how to judge that for myself.  They all seem perfectly fascinating and practical to me :p  Though surely being obsessed with understanding people must be practical.

More open to talking about feelings and emotional issues than males with AS.

I love talking about feelings.  I can talk about feelings until NTs are bored.  I am a geek of feelings.

Less likely to receive early correct diagnosis because the criteria is based on male character traits.  More likely to be diagnosed as bi-polar or manic depressive.

I wasn’t correctly diagnosed early, though I was also never diagnosed with bipolar.

Physical gestures/behaviors when happy more expressive than males: hand flapping, clapping, singing, jumping up and down, dancing, bouncing—this pertains to adult woman as well as girls.

I see you hand-flapping and raise you entire-arm-flapping.  I clap, I sing, I jump up and down, I dance (badly), I bounce; I’m thirty and none of these are anywhere close to stopping.  Home run on this one!  (See how excited I get when I fit criteria for being a girl.  I even bounced about it.)

Adult females are prone to both temper and crying meltdowns, even in public, sometimes over seemingly minor things due to sensory or emotional overload.  Hunger/food issues seem to be a common trigger.  Adult males not prone to crying.

Yes, but not crying in public.  But I was raised as a boy and that meant crying in public could get me beat up.  I cry a lot in private.  Meltdowns are often caused by hunger.

Tends to receive less tolerance and more expectation from others because she appears more adept.

I’m not sure about that one, but I’m not sure if it’s relevant, because it has so much to do with being seen as female.

Hates injustice and hates to be misunderstood; this can lead to anger and rage meltdowns.

Yes, just yes.  I sometimes have to hide from reading the news if I want to get anything done.

Less likely to stutter than male counterparts when stressed or upset; both may have raspy choked voice or suffer mutism.

Okay, I stutter, no girl point for me. 😦

Females are generally better at socializing in small doses.  May even give the appearance of skilled, but it is a ‘performance.’  Like her male counterpart will shut down in social situations once overloaded.

This was the description that made me thing this list was describing me in the first place.

More likely to keep pets for emotional support, but not always due to sensory issues.

I don’t have a pet, but I think I’m likely to keep a pet for emotional support in the future.  Just as soon as I live in an apartment that allows one.  (among other obstacles).

Conclusions

Okay, I definitely fit the pattern of Autistic girls more than Autistic boys.  However there could be a lot of explanations for that.  I mentioned my girlfriend in high school, but I fit most of the list before that.  But my very first real friend in the world was a girl who decided I must be lonely and that she would teach me how to have friends.  Maybe I act like a girl because I learned it from her.  On the other hand well before that I liked playing with girl toys more than boy toys and played with boy toys like they were girl toys a lot.  (just not when my dad was looking.)  On the elephant’s trunk, maybe I learned all that from my mom who was way more tolerant of my weirdness than my dad.  But on one foot, maybe it doesn’t matter where it comes from the point is I’m more like an Autistic girl now.  I’ve already told some friends that if they thought of me as a girl they would be less confused.  Maybe if I presented as an Autistic woman people would be less confused?

On the other foot,  gender identity is supposed to be something you feel on the inside.  I’m not sure what feeling like a woman is supposed to feel like.  I doubt I feel anything like it though; it’s just that I equally doubt that I feel like a man on the inside.  Just going by body image…  Well I do imagine feeling somewhat more at home in a woman’s body.  But even more so I’d feel more comfortable if I had the body of a small child.  I am frequently surprised looking in the mirror that I don’t have the proportions of a six-year-old.  When I imagine my self in my minds eye planning actions I picture more or less my six-year-old body.  The map hasn’t updated.  This causes lots of clumsiness.  It’s like growth spurt awkwardness that never ends.

But anyway, I certainly don’t want society to treat me as a kid, because my somatosensory map sees me that way.  I maybe used to want to be treated as a kid, but that was only because I despaired of freedom and would have settled for just being taken care of better.  Even worse, If I look deeper into my somatic intuitions, my imagination of my body is not most naturally human at all.  For example, I intuit being able to pick up things with my nose, though I’ve long since stopped forgetting that I couldn’t.  So you could say that I have an elephant’s trunk on the inside.  But I definitely don’t want to be treated as an elephant.  I want to have human rights and not have to worry about poachers.  It’s possible that a talking elephant would get rights, but I don’t want to be that test case.  In any case, being Autistic, I certainly don’t want my rights to depend on my ability to talk.  My ability to talk can come and go.  It’s easy to imagine losing it forever.  Especially if somebody turned me into an elephant.

Honestly, I’m not sure my body image fits in normal three dimensional Euclidian space exactly.  I do math in my head sometimes by a process a lot like imagining rearranging my limbs to get into a more comfortable position.  I will totally post about that someday.

Okay Actually Conclusions This Time

On the new world monkey’s prehensile tail, I have to pick something to identify as or I’ll just default to being seen as male.  Maybe female is less wrong.  I really just don’t feel up to bothering with doing anything about this now.  It would be so hard to explain in addition to everything else.  I want to keep thinking about this though.  Hopefully, I might help come up with insights into what gender identity means for different brains, or if the concept just isn’t applicable outside a certain distance from normal.

Final Bashfulness About Relatives Etc. Reading This

I’ve hesitated throughout this post about making it public, but I just don’t have enough public posts yet and this could help somebody or something and I’m trying not to be afraid or hide anymore.  Dear anybody who knows me among my readers for whom all of this is news, feel totally free to ignore any of this if it makes you uncomfortable, I’m not doing anything definitive or public yet.  If there are any situations in which you are likely to disown me—for example, if I get turned into an elephant—please tell me in a comment or email or something; it would be very useful information for me to have.

Okay, here goes.  I’m totally posting now.  You’ll see.  Actually from you’re point of view I posted a while ago.  More tense stuff.  Okay 3-2-1

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One Response to Gender, Noses and Strange Alien Geometries

  1. Pingback: Gender from another world « World Enough For Me

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