Elevated rates of autism, other neurodevelopmental and psychiatric diagnoses, and autistic traits in transgender and gender-diverse individuals

Nature Communications volume 11, Article number: 3959 (2020) Cite this article

Abstract

It is unclear whether transgender and gender-diverse individuals have elevated rates of autism diagnosis or traits related to autism compared to cisgender individuals in large non-clinic-based cohorts. To investigate this, we use five independently recruited cross-sectional datasets consisting of 641,860 individuals who completed information on gender, neurodevelopmental and psychiatric diagnoses including autism, and measures of traits related to autism (self-report measures of autistic traits, empathy, systemizing, and sensory sensitivity). Compared to cisgender individuals, transgender and gender-diverse individuals have, on average, higher rates of autism, other neurodevelopmental and psychiatric diagnoses. For both autistic and non-autistic individuals, transgender and gender-diverse individuals score, on average, higher on self-report measures of autistic traits, systemizing, and sensory sensitivity, and, on average, lower on self-report measures of empathy. The results may have clinical implications for improving access to mental health care and tailoring adequate support for transgender and gender-diverse individuals.

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About S. R. Zelenz 119 Articles
S.R. Zelenz has worked in education for 20 years. Working with students from all walks of life, cultures, races, and social diversity, Zelenz’s research in Educational Leadership led to finding a better way to approach learning for students with trauma histories. Many were juvenile offenders, gang members, diagnosed with varying behavioral disorders, or had family histories of violence, murder, or narcissistic parenting. This research could not be effectively accomplished without further understanding: how epigenetic trauma inheritance may be impacting these students; how brain development from trauma may be impacting their behavioral and emotional development; as well as deep understanding of psychology and its varying classifications for behavioral and personality disorders. The goal is to find solutions for changing the conversation and making a real difference for these students. She has also worked with nonprofits of varying focus areas for the last 25 years. Her undergraduate degree in Arts Administration and Music prepared her for managing nonprofits of any size as well as procuring funding so that they can achieve their goals. Pairing her nonprofit background with her education background, she has been able to make a difference for over 200 nonprofits worldwide, written curriculum for schools across the globe, and assisted many arts organizations through performance and management.