Autism Acceptance and Trans Visibility

Autism Acceptance and Trans Visibility

A few years ago, Autism Acceptance Week used to be Autism Awareness Week. The narrative has changed as more people are aware of autism, and now we strive for acceptance. The narrative around trans people has changed too, and I wonder whether we now need a Trans Acceptance day. In theory, that is the purpose of TDOV (Trans Day of Visibility), to celebrate trans people and raise awareness of issues just like Autism Acceptance Week. Yet, with the world aggressively attacking trans rights, maybe there needs to be a specific day titled “Just accept Trans people you rusted pile of spanners”? Twitter will only shout “When’s Mens Acceptance Day?!” Ugh. Yet on Trans Day of Visibility our rights in sport are being taken away, so we can’t be visible in sports. Thanks?

Another day probably won’t make much difference. I have no idea what would help. There are people in my life who are fine with me wearing skirts and yet listen to people who have transphobic views over an actual trans person. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but we should be OK with challenging and discussing ones that potentially cause harm. Except with science, facts, data, and evidence on our side, it seems we can’t change people’s minds? I should remember to breathe and accept that which I cannot change.

Unfortunately, my autistic side, which asks for acceptance, sometimes can’t accept someone else’s opinion. I get stuck fighting with them. Friends, in an attempt to defuse situations and remind me that an opinion isn’t a fact, would tell me that I cannot say someone’s opinion is wrong. It’s simply an opinion. My response was always “Well, in my opinion I’m right, but you can’t say that’s wrong because it’s just an opinion.” Argument, continue! Now I understand my brain a bit better and the autistic need (?) to be right, and I try to emphasise more with the other person in an attempt to find a middle ground. It’s a challenge because for me, my opinions make absolute sense and all I have to do is walk someone through the data, and they’ll get it. Why aren’t they getting it?

I’d love to believe that the best way to challenge people is via love, as I wrote last week. Be bold, be brave and be courageous. Don’t attack someone for holding a different view, simply keep being inspiring. A noble idea, yet those with harmful ideas are whispering into people’s ears and slowly turning them against trans people. My kindness, or pretending I didn’t hear them say something problematic because it’ll wreck my mental health attempting to debate with them, isn’t changing minds.

All that said. Yesterday, as I walked home from a photography commission, a man was staring at me. My spidey-anxiety tingled. I looked at him and tried to smile, except I need to practice smiling because when it feels like I’m smiling and there’s nothing there. So, really, I blankly stared back at the man with positive vibes in my frozen face muscles. “Nice beard. Like the purple.” A compliment! I thanked him, kept walking, and I felt great.

Since I came out and started wearing whatever made me happy, I’ve had more compliments on my appearance in a year than maybe in my life. Arguing with people hasn’t had much of an effect. Being visible, respectful, and thankful to those who see me and are kind to me has had an effect. I’ve impacted their day positively, and they’ve responded in kind. It’s a win and I’ll take it.

Put more joy into the world. Be less sarcastic. That’s soooo going to work.

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