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11 Aug, 2020 15:16

Transgender & ‘gender diverse’ people six times more likely to be diagnosed as autistic, true figure likely higher – study

Transgender & ‘gender diverse’ people six times more likely to be diagnosed as autistic, true figure likely higher – study

A new major study has found that transgender and “gender-diverse adults” are six times more likely to be diagnosed as autistic than the general population.

The fresh research by scientists at the University of Cambridge’s Autism Research Center took data from more than 600,000 people and confirmed previous findings from smaller scale studies of a similar nature.  

They combined five different data sets in which participants provided detailed information on their gender identity, autism diagnosis as well as any and all other pertinent mental health diagnoses, such as depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). 

Across all five datasets, transgender people were three to six times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than non-trans or non-gender-diverse people.

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The true figure is likely far higher as autism is typically underdiagnosed. An estimated 1.1 percent of the UK population is on the autism spectrum, which would indicate that up to nine percent of transgender and gender-diverse adults are likely also autistic.

Transgender people were also found to be more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression. They also scored higher for autistic traits, on a questionnaire about non-clinical features of autism, regardless of their autism diagnosis. 

“This finding, using large datasets, confirms that the co-occurrence between being autistic and being transgender and gender-diverse is robust,” Dr Varun Warrier, who led the study, said. Dr Warrier emphasized that the co-occurrence of autism and transgenderism did not necessarily indicate a causal relationship. 

The research provoked a notable reaction on social media. Some questioned the language used by the authors of the study, asserting that the controversial topic was cannon fodder for woke warriors online. Others shared their own experiences and insights into the possible connection between the autism spectrum and transgenderism.

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