Are transgender and gender diverse people more likely to be diagnosed with autistic? A new study has shown that they are three to six times more likely as cisgender adults to be diagnosed as autistic.
The study published in Nature Communications was done by a group of researchers from the University of Cambridge’s Autism Research Centre. The researchers concluded their findings after analysing data of about six lakh people.
The researchers used five different datasets. This included the dataset of over five lakh people collected as a part of the Channel 4 documentary “Are you autistic?”. Were asked several questions, including gender identity, and if they received a diagnosis of autism or other psychiatric conditions such as depression or schizophrenia.
In the study, the researchers also mentioned that several individuals may not have come under the scanner or diagnosed for autism. The estimates showed that about 1.1 per cent of the UK population were under the autistic spectrum. They also said that 3.5 per cent to 6.5 per cent of transgender and gender diverse adults might be on the autistic spectrum.
The Transgender and gender diverse people were more likely to indicate that they had received diagnoses of mental health conditions more than the others. The study also found that these people scored higher on measures of autistic traits compared to cisgender individuals, regardless of whether they were diagnosed for autism earlier.
Dr Varun Warrier, who led the study, said that the findings showed that co-occurrence between being autistic and being transgender and gender-diverse was robust. He opined that understanding the significance of the co-occurrence was much needed. The study investigates the co-occurrence between gender identity and autism. The team did not investigate if one causes the other.
Dr. Meng-Chuan Lai, who was a collaborator of the study, said that the understanding of how autism manifests in transgender and gender diverse people would enrich the knowledge about autism in relation to gender and sex. This would help in better analysing autism in individuals and provide personalised support and health care, Li said.