Decoding the High Functioning Label

THIS. Over and over again, this.

Musings of an Aspie

Aspies are often labeled high functioning by default. Some people even seem to think it’s a compliment.

“You must be very high functioning. You don’t seem autistic.”

“Why, thank you. And you’re not especially ugly.”

Because, yeah . . . being told you’re “not that autistic” like it’s a good thing is hard to swallow.

Functioning Labels in Practice

Applying functioning labels to autistic people is problematic. Maybe an example will help illustrate why.

I’ll describe two autistic women, Mary and Joan. See if you can tell which one is high functioning and which one is low functioning:

Mary is a wife and mother. She’s been steadily employed since age 16, has a BA degree and runs her own small business. She exercises regularly and is health conscious. When her daughter was younger, she volunteered for parent committees, hosted sleepovers, coached softball and drove carpool. As the more detail-oriented spouse…

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Trick of the Light

This complements my last post on bisexuality and biphobia pretty well. Whilst mine was a lot about internalised biphobia, this one looks more at what non-bi people say to and about bi people.

Switch Studies

We’re not invisible. We’re just not real.

Bisexuals are a trick of the light. There we are, the B of LGBT. We’re acknowledged, included, magnanimously held up by the Ls and Gs as part of the queer family. It’s hard to complain. We’re embraced with far more enthusiasm than transfolk, after all. We get a letter, which is more than can be said for a number of other sexual minorities. Unlike “genderfluid” or “asexual” or “intersex”, if you say “bisexual” in conversation everyone knows the word.

Or do they?

We’re a trick of the light. People make assumptions. They try to translate us, but there’s no word for us in their experience. “Bisexual” too often gets erased from our identities and replaced with something else.

What does bisexuality look like, through the lens of hetero- or homosexuality? What does it mean, not to be gender-exclusive in a world where gender…

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Trans 101

People I know are often in need of hearing this.

Trans and maybe-trans and I-don’t-fucking-know and my-way-of-being-isn’t-recognised-in-colonialist-culture people, this is for you. Read it whenever you need to remember that you are just as much of a person as anyone else and you deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

Cis, otherwise not-trans and I-guess-I-never-thing-about-gender people, this isn’t for you but read it anyway. Think about how you can help change the world into one where people don’t need to be reminded that they aren’t broken. Think about what you and yours may have said and done that contributed to making people believe such things about themselves. Learn. Be better.

Binary Subverter

  1. You are a person. You are worthy of respect. You deserve to be treated with the same dignity as anyone else. There is nothing inherently wrong with your gender. You are not broken, you are not disgusting, you do not deserve to be hurt.
  2. You’ve been brought up and live in a world that’s designed to erase and demonize your existence, you’ve probably internalized a lot of that- and that’s not your fault. But it can be hard to deal with. But you aren’t alone in dealing with it. And sometimes you have to buy into it to be able to handle it (trigger warning: transphobic violence). And that’s okay.
  3. Your gender is no more or less than anyone else’s. Your history doesn’t make you “not really” or “less” your gender than someone with a cis history, it just makes you a person of your gender with a different history.

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CeCe McDonald is free.

This puts it better than I could.

CeCe McDonald is free. Finally, Cece McDonald is free.

If you haven’t heard of CeCe, here’s the deal: She’s been in prison since 2011 for killing a man in self-defence. And not the kind of self-defence where you think someone’s looking at you funny or walking around the place carrying suspicious Skittles so you shoot them point-blank and get away scot-free. This is the other kind of self-defence, where you’re walking down the street and a group of people attack you because they don’t like people of your race and gender walking down the street. Where when you attempt to walk away they smash bottles against your face, leaving you permanently scarred and with a severed saliva gland. And when you defend yourself with a scissors from your bag, you kill your attacker. Where, when the case goes to court, neither your attacker’s three previous convictions for violent assault nor…

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