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‘Conflict versus Congruence’: A Qualitative Study Exploring the Experience of Gender Dysphoria for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Authors
  • Coleman-Smith, Rachel S.1, 2
  • Smith, Richard3
  • Milne, Elizabeth1
  • Thompson, Andrew R.1
  • 1 University of Sheffield,
  • 2 Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust,
  • 3 Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust,
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Publisher
Springer-Verlag
Publication Date
Mar 13, 2020
Volume
50
Issue
8
Pages
2643–2657
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s10803-019-04296-3
PMID: 32170540
PMCID: PMC7374476
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

An emergent evidence base indicates a higher prevalence of autism exists amongst people attending gender identity clinics. This qualitative study explored adults’ with autism experiences of coming to understand and address their gender dysphoria (GD). Data were collected and analysed using Grounded Theory. Ten adults with autism and GD undertook semi-structured interviews. A tentative theoretical framework of common processes involved in understanding and addressing GD for individuals with autism was developed. The experience is captured in the core category— Conflict versus Congruence . A key finding was the impact of autism as a barrier but sometimes a protective factor in participants’ understanding and addressing GD. Participants appeared to achieve greater personal congruence and wellbeing upon transition. Nevertheless, conflicts remained as they navigated the social world with a continuing fear of hostility and sense of difference due to having two stigmatised identities.

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