This is the Story of Victoria
Just like a mourning dove
And there’s no glory in Dysphoria
VictoriaBad Cop/Bad Cop – Victoria Lyrics
Queer neurodivergent people face compounding minority stressors.
The Meyer (2003) minority stress model — minority stress processes in lesbian, gay and bisexual populations — is based on factors associated with various stressors and coping mechanisms and their positive or negative impact on mental health outcomes. Significantly, many of the concepts in the model overlap, representing their interdependency (Meyer, 2003; Pearlin, 1999). The model describes stress processes, including experiences of prejudice, expectations of rejection, hiding, concealing, internalized homophobia and ameliorative coping processes (Meyer, 2003). Stressors such as homophobia or sexual stigma that may arise from the environment require an individual to adapt but also cause significant stress, which ultimately affects physical and mental health outcomes (Dohrenwend et al., 1992).The minority stress perspective
It is not hard to see the potential utility for the minority stress model when you pause and take stock of how autistic people are treated in society. The minority stress model captures the some of the complexity of existing while autistic. Autistic people are stereotyped—and the vast majority of stereotypes are negative (Wood and Freeth, 2016). Autistic people face employment discrimination, higher unemployment, and underemployment, as well as experiencing bullying in the workplace (Shattuck et al., 2012; Baldwin et al., 2014). Autistic children are more likely to be excluded from schools (Timpson and Great Britain, 2019). In the United Kingdom (UK), one-third of autistic people have access to neither employment or welfare payments (Redman, 2009), while 12% of Welsh autistic adults report experiencing homelessness (Evans, 2011). Statistics show disproportionate use of force against autistic people and those with learning disability in the UK (Home Office, 2018), while a third to half of all incidents involving the use of excessive force by police involves a disabled person (Perry and Carter-Long, 2016)—experiences which will obviously be further compounded by institutional racism (Holroyd, 2015). Autistic individuals are more likely to experience (poly)victimization, including being four times more likely to experience physical and psychological abuse from adults as children, 27 times more likely to experience teasing, and seven times more likely to experience sexual victimization (Weiss and Fardella, 2018). At the extreme end of the victimization—autistic children are more likely to die to filicide (Lucardie, 2005). Autistic lives are marked by an often-astounding excess stress burden across the life span.
Considering the study by Hirvikoski et al. (2016), I chose to study mental health and minority stress because people like me were (and still are) dying to suicide in their droves. To be clear, wanting a better future for my community is a value, and my work embodied it from the very beginning. I was propelled by values. How can you belong to a community who is actively suffering, and not want to make it better anyway that you can?
I found that exposure to minority stress does predict significantly worse well-being and higher psychological distress in the autistic community (Botha and Frost, 2020), including exposure to victimization and discrimination, everyday discrimination, expectation of rejection, expectation of rejection, outness (disclosure), concealment (masking of autism), internalized stigma, and it explains a large and significant proportion of the variance—in lay-man’s terms—the constant marginalization of autistic people is contributing to high rates of poor mental health. Aside from this, I noticed that despite being normally distributed (and not containing outliers), the mean psychological distress score was above the cut-off for indicating severe psychological distress (Kessler et al., 2003). Between the sadness of these findings and being exposed to all of these disturbing accounts of autism I considered (albeit briefly), giving up on academia all together without pursuing my Ph.D.Frontiers | Academic, Activist, or Advocate? Angry, Entangled, and Emerging: A Critical Reflection on Autism Knowledge Production
everyone's walking in a straight line I can't seem to fit in I won't even try to be like them what is it like? to just be accepted for being yourself and not having to come out of your comfort zone so here, here I am
we are the people you see on TV that can't seem to shut up that never seem pleased our entire existence is still part of debates when breathing is political then you just don't believe in slow progress and take your faith in own hands So here, here I am don't hold me up everyone's walking in a straight line I can't seem to fit in I won't even try to be like them what is it like? to just be accepted (here I am) --Queer Line (Non-Binary / LGBTQIA+ song) by Eyemèr
Why are there greater mental health stresses on autistic people from gender-minority groups? To quote from the research paper,Ann’s Autism Blog: Autism, Transgender and Avoiding Tragedy
(PDF) Extending the Minority Stress Model to Understand Mental Health Problems Experienced by the Autistic Population
The theory posits that minority individuals face unique and persistent stressors, such as discrimination, prejudice, and stigma, that can lead to negative health outcomes, such as depression, anxiety, and cardiovascular disease, through the activation of physiological and psychological stress responses (Millar and Brooks 2022). Identifying as neuroqueer can intensify such stress and impact one’s mental health (George and Stokes 2018;Hall et al. 2020). A study conducted by the Trevor Project found suicide rates to be significantly higher among autistic LGBTQ+ youth than non-autistic youth (Lhant 2022).Neurodivergence is also an LGBTQ+ topic: Making space for “neuroqueering” in the outdoors
Victimization and ostracization by peers of one’s own gender group during early developmental stages when gender segregation is at its peak, can increase the likelihood of experiencing significant affective, cognitive and behavioural consequences for gender non-conforming individuals in adulthood (Zucker 2005). Results from the current study suggested that having GDT had the most extreme adverse effect on mental health. Thus, adverse mental health consequences may be more severe for autistic individuals from a gender minority group when com- pared to autistic individuals from a sexual minority group, and results from the current study suggested that having GDT had the most extreme adverse effect on mental health.A Quantitative Analysis of Mental Health Among Sexual and Gender Minority Groups in ASD | SpringerLink
Stigma, Mental Health, and Resilience in an Online Sample of the US Transgender Population | AJPH | Vol. 103 Issue 5
I've got one fatal flaw I'm a compulsive liar If I don't love you I will tell you anything And even if I love you I'll always be conniving I'll always be negotiating with the truth And I can trace the habit To when I was eleven And I thought boys were pretty And I couldn't tell no one
It opens at a young age That all-protective closet Just lock the door And settle in among the raincoats The longer you stay in there The more you'll get distorted The more contorted all your lies will have to be Don't wait a moment longer: Stand up and turn the doorknob And I'll tell you my secret If you will tell me yours --Compulsive Liar by Ezra Furman
Transition from nowhere to nowhere Here I come again Nobody cares if you're dying 'til you're dead Ambition leads nowhere I dream of going right back to bed Nobody cares if you're dying 'til you're dead And if it's not enough to keep the lights on Let 'em turn the lights off Broken spirit and a bad cough Turn 'em off, turn 'em off And when you’re really at the end of your rope No, you don’t take the night off Too many demons to fight off Cut me off, cut me off
Remember I tried to ask what it means to be a man? They threw me in the back of a truck and they tied my hands --Transition from Nowhere to Nowhere by Ezra Furman
For more songs—and perspective—on dysphoria, minority stress, and queer and neurodivergent mental health, check out our playlist ”Chronic Neurodivergent Depressed Queer Punk: Punk Rock, the Social Model of Disability, and the Dream of the Accepting Community”.
- The primary aim of the minority stress model is to explain disparities in health between majority and stigmatized minority groups.
- Social disadvantage can translate into health disparities.
- Decreased social standing leads to stigmatized minority groups being exposed to more stressful life situations, with simultaneously fewer resources to cope with these events.
- Transgender people may find themselves living in constant fear of verbal or physical harassment.
- As social relations and culture change over time, negative attitudes toward transgender people may be reduced, which will then reduce the stressors which trigger anxiety and depression.
- The concept of minority stress stems from several social and psychological theoretical orientations and can be described as a relationship between minority and dominant values and resultant conflict with the social environment experienced by minority group members.
- Minority stress theory proposes that sexual minority health disparities can be explained in large part by stressors induced by a hostile, homophobic culture, which often results in a lifetime of harassment, maltreatment, discrimination and victimization.
- A strong correlation may be drawn between minority stress theory and a greater likelihood for psychological distress and physical health problems.
- Stress theory provides a useful framework to explain and examine health disparities and the role of homophobia.
- There is a significant relationship between minority stressors and deleterious behavioral and mental health outcomes.
- The minority stress model posits that social disadvantage and marginalization results in an increased burden, which in turn can result in mental and physical health disparities.
- Autistic individuals are more likely to experience (poly)victimization.
- Autistic lives are marked by an often-astounding excess stress burden across the life span.
- Exposure to minority stress does predict significantly worse well-being and higher psychological distress in the autistic community.
- The constant marginalization of autistic people is contributing to high rates of poor mental health.
- Autistic community connectedness buffered against some of the effects of minority stress and was related to better mental health over time.
- The increased rates of mental health problems in these minority populations are often a consequence of the stigma and marginalisation attached to living outside mainstream sociocultural norms.
- This stress could come from external adverse events, which among other forms of victimization could include verbal abuse, acts of violence, sexual assault by a known or unknown person, reduced opportunities for employment and medical care, and harassment from persons in positions of authority.
- Autistic individuals constitute an identity-based minority and may be exposed to excess social stress as a result of disadvantaged and stigmatized social status.
- Suicide rates are significantly higher among autistic LGBTQ+ youth than non-autistic youth.
- Minority stress levels are further perpetuated by internal stresses, such as the anticipation of adverse events, the vigilance this anticipation requires, the internalization of negative social attitudes, efforts to conceal one’s sexual orientation and gender-identity, and pressure to conform to societal expectations.
- Prolonged Adaptation Stress Syndrome is what happens when someone pretends to be something they’re not on an everyday basis.
Bird, You Can Fly
So the time has come For your soul to finally belong Stop the facade Though the world is not ready for you and I You're starting your life From this moment now Bird you can fly Bird you can fly You're breaking out Out of your shell today
You're starting your life From this moment now Bird you can fly Bird you can fly You're breaking out Out of your shell today Kid, you'll be fine You're not a girl You're not a boy Nor am I Kid, you'll be fine You're not a girl You're not a boy Nor am I
If you loved me I wouldn't have to run away I wouldn't have to hide away Through this life If I could transform And change the way I am right now I'd be Exactly what you want to see If you loved me I wouldn't have to be sad I could smile and you'd be glad That I'm from this life If I could transform I wouldn't have to be afraid I wouldn't have to be unmade From this life I don't want special treatment I don't want attention I just want to coexist On the realm that you play on Open up your heart Take me as I am Love me, hate me, break my heart Just let me live
Well, if you loved me I wouldn't have to be sad I could smile and you'd be glad That I'm from this life (If I could) Transform And I don't have to be afraid I wouldn't have to be unmade From this life Life Well, if you loved me I wouldn't have to be sad I could smile and you'd be glad That I'm from this life If I could transform I wouldn't have to be afraid I wouldn't have to be unmade From this life Life! Transform!
Give yourself a combo plate (Combo plate) Transform Transform, transform, everybody transform If we could transform We wouldn't have to be afraid We wouldn't have to be unmade From this life If we could transform And change the way we are right now It'd be Much, much, too easy Can you take those thoughts away? Can't you see I'm fine? Warm your heart, don't you see It's just the same as mine? Am I naive? --Transform by Steam Powered Giraffe
The Malfunction Isn’t Us, It’s all the Clamor and the Fuss
Raise your hand if you’re not from a mold (yeah me) Varied strings are worth more than gold Mah-ah-ah-ah-ahl function away Mah-ah-ah-ah-ahl function away Malfunction! Malfunction! Malfunction! ... Their Malfunction isn’t us, it’s all the clamor and the fuss
I’m about to pick you up get you back up on your feet you don’t need to worry love Even if we’re incomplete Come on baby open up Pull out the wires and trim the fluff Be yourself sounds so cliche But hey let's do it anyway
We’re functioning just fine, we’re alive At this junction of dysfunction we are arrive What’s your Malfunction? Don’t be scare, It don’t matter how you wear your hair What’s your Malfunction? Bring it forth perfect’s a bore for what it’s worth Curvy, skinny, or bizarre The best shape is who you are Raise your hand if you’re not from a mold (yeah me) Varied strings are worth more than gold Mah-ah-ah-ah-ahl function away Mah-ah-ah-ah-ahl function away Malfunction! Malfunction! Malfunction! Feel the fires as they tickle your face Watch and learn as they make you feel disgrace Ones and zeroes left over, left out to haunt Comb them in and let them want I want more from this stupid life Do you want more from this stupid life? (oh yeah) Ones and zeroes, ones and zeroes, ones and zeroes Add them up, take them up, show them I’m functioning just fine I’m alive At my junction of dysfunction we arrive What’s their Malfunction? It’s a start; Can we teach them not to fall apart? Their Malfunction isn’t us, it’s all the clamor and the fuss When I say that I love you, dammit Janet, take it as truth Everything’s a little broken To be pristine well you must be jokin’ Mah-ah-ah-ah-ahl-function away Mah-ah-ah-ah-ahl-function away -- Malfunction
Autigender and Neuroqueer: Two Words on the Relationship Between Autism and Gender That Fit Me
The story continues with “Autigender and Neuroqueer: Two Words on the Relationship Between Autism and Gender That Fit Me“.