Neuroqueer

Ear readers, press play to listen to this page in the selected language.

I originally conceived of neuroqueer as a verb: neuroqueering as the practice of queering (subverting, defying, disrupting, liberating oneself from) neuronormativity and heteronormativity simultaneously. It was an extension of the way queer is used as a verb in Queer Theory; I was expanding the Queer Theory conceptualization of queering to encompass the queering of neurocognitive norms as well as gender norms––and, in the process, I was examining how socially-imposed neuronormativity and socially-imposed heteronormativity were entwined with one another, and how the queering of either of those two forms of normativity entwined with and blended into the queering of the other one.

So what does it mean to neuroqueer, as a verb? What are the various practices that fall within the definition of neuroqueering

Neuroqueer: An Introduction

A neuroqueer individual is any individual whose identity, selfhood, gender performance, and/or neurocognitive style have in some way been shaped by their engagement in practices of neuroqueering, regardless of what gender, sexual orientation, or style of neurocognitive functioning they may have been born with.

Neuroqueer Heresies: Notes on the Neurodiversity Paradigm, Autistic Empowerment, and Postnormal Possibilities

Just as intentionally liberating oneself from the culturally ingrained and enforced performance of heteronormativity is sometimes referred to as queering, intentionally liberating oneself from the culturally ingrained and enforced performance of neuronormativity can be thought of as neuroqueering.

The concept of neuroqueering represents a rich and important intersection of the fields of Neurodiversity Studies and Queer Theory.

Neuroqueer Heresies: Notes on the Neurodiversity Paradigm, Autistic Empowerment, and Postnormal Possibilities

My favorite articulation of Queer Theory’s transcendence of the limitations of essentialist identity politics is a single sentence penned in 1997 by queer theorist David M. Halperin. In his book Saint Foucault: Towards a Gay Hagiography, Halperin wrote:

“Queer,” in any case, does not designate a class of already objectified pathologies or perversions; rather, it describes a horizon of possibility whose precise extent and heterogeneous scope cannot in principle be delimited in advance.

This post-essentialist articulation of the meaning and potentials of queer also perfectly sums up my conception of the meaning and potentials of neuroqueer. Neuroqueer is not a mere synonym for neurodivergent, or for neurodivergent identity combined with queer identity. Neuroqueer is active subversion of both neuronormativity and heteronormativity. Neuroqueer is intentional noncompliance with the demands of normative performance. Neuroqueer is choosing to actively engage with one’s potentials for neurodivergence and queerness, and the intersections and synergies of those potentials. Neuroqueer is about recognizing the fundamentally entwined nature of cognition, gender, and embodiment, and also about treating cognition, gender, and embodiment as fluid and customizable, and as canvases for ongoing creative experimentation.

Neuroqueer transcends essentialist identity politics not only by treating identity as fluid and customizable, but also by being radically inclusive. Neuroqueering is something anyone can potentially do, and there are infinite possible ways to do it and infinite possible ways to be transformed by it. The term neuroqueer points to a horizon of creative possibility with which anyone can choose to engage.

Neuroqueer Heresies: Notes on the Neurodiversity Paradigm, Autistic Empowerment, and Postnormal Possibilities

Further reading,

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Published by Ryan Boren

#ActuallyAutistic retired technologist turned wannabe-sociologist. Equity literate education, respectfully connected parenting, passion-based learning, indie ed-tech, neurodiversity, social model of disability, design for real life, inclusion, open web, open source. he/they