For the past several years, evidence has been accumulating that there is a fairly high comorbitity between transsexuality / transgenderism and the autism spectrum. Interestingly, and perhaps not totally surprisingly, among MTF transwomen, it appears to be exclusively found in the non-exclusively androphilic population. This fits the Freund/Blanchard taxonomy and more importantly, Blanchard’s prediction that “non-homosexual” (with respect to natal sex) MTF transwomen would exhibit neurological / brain differences from control males but these differences would NOT be a shift toward female like brains.
Autism and autism spectrum disorders are found in four to five times as many men as women. There are a number of theories as to why this happens, including the rather intriguing “hypermasculine brain hypothesis”, in which a link between the slight differences between men and women, as groups, having different cognitive and social behaviors and the apparent similarity, or rather, exaggeration of these differences between men and women, found in those on the autism spectrum. If autism is a form of hypermasculinization, it would not surprise us to learn that FTM transmen were more autistic-like than most women… and that is what one group of researchers found.
Using a 50 item, Likert scored, instrument called the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ), Jones, et Al., found that FTM transmen as a group, scored 23.2, higher than control women AND men! This puts about half of the FTM onto the high functioning autism spectrum!! (The lower AQ cut-off for ASD is 23.) Non-exclusively-androphilic transwomen scored essentially the same as the control men, while exclusively androphilic transwomen scored essentially the same as the control women, and definitely (statistically significant: p<0.03 ) below both the control men and non-androphilic transwomen.
Group: Men Women FTM Non-Androphilic Androphilic
. MTF N=129 MTF N=69
Score (SD): 17.8 (6.8) 15.4 (5.7) 23.2 (9.1) 17.4 (7.4) 15.0 (5.6)
The implication is clear, FTM’s are masculine, perhaps even hypermasculine, while the data also supports the Freund/Blanchard two type taxonomy for MTF transwomen. In the discussion section of the paper, the authors remarked,
“Interestingly, with the 198 transwomen group, there were 6 individuals (i.e. 3%) with a diagnosis of AS. This rate is about 3 times as many as in the general population.”
These authors didn’t state what the sexuality of the six AS individuals were; but if they conform to the greater likelihood that they were non-androphilic, found in other papers, the incidence rate for such non-androphilic transwomen would be closer to five times the rate found in the general population, however, that is only about twice as high as that found in the male population.
(Addendum: 1/21/2017: Looking at the data again, this time from the perspective of effect sizes with respect to men vs. women and non-androphilic vs. androphilic aids us in understanding how important this difference is. First, the effect size between men and women is 0.38 a modest but still very noticable difference in the populations. Now, let’s look at the diffence between non-androphilic and androphilic at 0.37, nearly identical to the difference between men and women. So, lets compare the difference between men and non-androphilic tranwomen at 0.06 which is tiny. And similarly, when we compare between women and androphilic transwomen it is only 0.07 which again is very tiny. That is to say, these statistical tests shows that the difference between men and women is the same size as between non-androphilic and androphilic transwomen, while there is effectly no difference between men & non-androphilic and women & androphilic transwomen respectively. That is to say, that non-androphilic transwomen are identical to men in general, while androphilic transwomen are essentially the same as women in general. Further the difference between the two types of transwomen exactly matches the difference between men and women, which strongly supports the Two Type Taxonomy.)
Jones, et Al, “Female-To-Male Transsexual People and Autistic Traits”, J. Autism Dev. Discord. DOI: 10.1007/s10803-011-1227-8