Anonymous said: My friend's has a new girlfriend who happens to be autistic. She keeps asking me to affirm her transphobia (I am trans). Every time I deny her opinions, she tells me that I must be wrong. If I try to back up my side with personal anecdotes, crime stats, ect, she curls up and seems to shut down. This has been happening for months now, every time I see her. The entire friendgroup claims "she can't handle strong emotion" so I should just deal w it, but I'd like to educate her, any advice? Thanks
Wow, that sucks a lot. I can assure you as an autistic trans person that this person definitely sounds like she’s using her autism as an excuse to not examine her prejudices, and it’s really gross that your friend group is taking a “she can’t help it because she’s autistic!” position too, which is enabling her behavior.
I have had personal experience with interacting with another autistic person who was unaccepting of my gender identity. He, an autistic cis man, had a lot of difficulty with the fact that I was breaking the “rules” of gender by being trans. As I’ve said before, it’s really common and easy for autistic people, just like everyone else, to pick up the prejudices that don’t target them from the culture around them.
I think what helped this particular autistic cis man eventually come around to respecting me was when others explained to him that the “rules” of gender as had been taught to him were actually wrong, and that he was being extremely hurtful by continuing to refer to me as the wrong gender. In this case, he didn’t realize how hurtfully he was behaving.
In your case, I think that the shutting down when confronted with criticism makes things a little different. She is very emotionally entangled with her opinions on a subject (trans people) that doesn’t even involve her. Lots of non-autistic people are emotionally invested in being correct, as well, so the emotional entanglement by itself has nothing to do with autism.
If she is actually having shutdowns when confronted with the possibility that she could be wrong about trans people, then I think you (or someone) should point out to her that that happens, and ask her how to go about constructively criticizing her without her having a shutdown.
If you can prevent yourself from showing much emotion during conversations with her where you’re pointing out that she’s wrong, that might help, but I know that it’s really hard to do that, and you probably don’t have an investment in personally being friends with her.
I think that the best thing to do would be to explain to your friend group that they’re wrong about autism (informing them of the things I wrote above). You can tell them an autistic trans person told you so.
(any fellow trans autistics who want to reply or reblog with additional comments/advice are welcome to do so!)