"Protect Our Children": The Parallels of Transphobia and Anti-Autistic Ableism




Dunkerson, Adrian

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The fact that a significant proportion of trans people are also autistic has been the topic of many academic and non-academic conversations concerning gender and neurodiversity. While scientists and psychiatric professionals rush to find the reason as to why, anti-trans activists weaponize this connection to undermine the legitimacy and legal protections of trans people. Transantagonistic rhetoric is already heavily based on the ableist discourse of the normative body, with ableism and transphobia “drifting” into each other to uphold cisheteronormativity. With recent discourse targeting autistic trans people, these arguments significantly overlap. Using critical discourse analysis (CDA) to analyze 28 Facebook posts of transphobic and anti-autistic ableist nature, I was able to identify 6 key parallel arguments in the discourse: adult trans/autistic activists are purposefully ignoring reality; adult trans/autistic activists are unreasonably aggressive and manipulative; overcoming one’s ‘pathology’ is to be celebrated; children must surrender their agency to adults for their own safety; the non-normative child is the cause of their parent(s)’ suffering; and children do not have the capacity to make educated decisions about their identities or bodies. While transphobes and ableists rally around the image of the innocent child, trans and autistic advocates are demonized and infantilized.



media studies, neurodivergency, disability studies, transgender studies, critical discourse analysis, Facebook, discourse analysis, anti-autistic ableism, ableism, transphobia, autism, transgender, Trans