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Conservatives Invoke Autism as an Excuse to Limit LGBTQ+ Rights

Conservatives Invoke Autism as an Excuse to Limit LGBTQ+ Rights

Conservatives Invoke Autism as an Excuse to Limit LGBTQ+ Rights

Conservatives have incorrectly asserted that autism and mental illnesses are influencing people into identifying as LGBTQ+.

In an attempt to undermine the autonomy of the LGBTQ+ community, Republican extremists cite autism and mental illnesses as evidence that people, especially children, are being influenced into identifying as LGBTQ+.

Among these conservatives is Marjorie Taylor Greene, who went off on a tirade about social media's influence on making kids "confused" about their gender.

"These are kids who are confused about who they are and they are confused about who they are because of what they are seeing on the internet," Greene said. "Many of these victims have diagnoses of autism, mental illness, they have depression, anxiety, psychosis."

Autistic members of the LGBTQ+ community believe that statements like Greene's undermine the self-awareness that autistic people have. Experts in psychiatry concur, such as John Strang, a pediatric neuropsychologist at the Children's National Hospital.

Strang, who is also the director of the Gender and Autism Program in Washington, D.C., told The Hillthat while "there is strong evidence that there is a proportional over-occurrence of autism among gender diverse and transgender people," it is not yet definitively known why that is the case. However, Strand said autistic LGBTQ+ people face greater mental health risks than other groups.

“Several studies suggest that autistic LGBTQ individuals may face greater mental health risks and healthcare disparities than independently autistic or LGBTQ populations,” Strang said. “This is not surprising as individuals at the intersection of more than one minoritized identity often face greater disparities.”

Strang vehemently disagreed with the notion that autistic people are being manipulated into identifying as LGBTQ+, saying that the idea undermines their self-determination. He said all that the trend signals is the need for a deeper understanding.

"Freedom of self-determination is one of our society’s core values. Yet, for autistic people in our society, there is a painful history of rights for self-determination being denied," Strang continued. "Sexual orientation and gender identity are highly personal experiences that can only be known by the individual. And it can take time for people to come to know who they are in terms of their sexuality and gender — this is true for autistic and non-autistic people, alike.”

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