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UK Study: F-to-M Trans Have More Autistic Traits

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A new UK study has found that female-to-male transgender people have a higher than average number of autistic traits. That means they tend to exhibit “male-typical interests,” usually shy away from socializing and choose NOT to rely on their emotions.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge announced the results last Thursday. Emma Martin–a clinical psychotherapist and transgender woman herself–was a part of the scientific team. She tells OutQ News that she initially approached Professor Simon Baron-Cohen and asked if they could examine what she noticed was a correlation between transitioning transgender men and autism.

So researchers measured autistic traits using the Autism Spectrum Quotient–or AQ–in five different groups: trans men and women; heterosexual men and women; and finally those with the social communication disorder related to autism called Asperger’s Syndrome. They found that trans men had a higher average AQ score than all other groups except those with Asperger’s.

Though Martin says the local transgender community has not had “much of a reaction” to the results yet, she says the research team anticipated a huge response.

MARTIN: When they first came out, Simon phoned me up and said, ‘Should we publish this? I really don’t want to cause a big stir anyway…’ And yeah, it was quite a surprise, but it was quite definitive for the findings on a reasonably large quorum of people.

Baron-Cohen’s tentative explanation for the results may account for his hesitance to publish. It’s that girls with autistic tendencies tend to share interests with boys. That may lead them to conclude they “have a boy’s mind in a girl’s body,” just as many transgender men do.

The study is published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.


Written by Xorje Olivares

May 12, 2011 at 8:45 AM

One Response

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  1. My gut reaction to this study and the interpretation of it is that, yes there may be a clear correlation between the exhibition of aspergers traits but it may not be wise or prudent. And to draw the conclusion that this “syndrome” causes a person to desire gender change- using this an explanation is perhaps counterproductive.. Why not just take it at face value and a mere correlation or observation… By the way I know of a mtf that also clearly exhibited those traits as a youth.

    Karen sbrig

    May 14, 2011 at 12:50 PM

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