Trans and gender diverse people are significantly more likely to be autistic, new research has confirmed.
A link between autism and being trans has long been somewhat known, but few studies have been available to measure the overlap.
The study by the University of Cambridge Autism Research Centre, published this week in Nature Communications, found that trans people are three to six times more likely to be diagnosed with autism.
The study of over half a million people found that the rate of diagnosed autism would therefore be up to around 6.5% in the trans population.
In addition to those formally diagnosed as autistic, many trans people reported traits consistent with autism.
Autism, or autistic spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions of brain development.
Diagnosis is based on problems communicating or interacting with others and restricted or repetitive behaviour and interests.
While some see their autism as a disability, others consider it only a difference.
Previous research has similarly put the rate of autism among young trans people at around one in ten, with another one in ten having “autism traits” such as impaired social skills.
Dr Varun Warrier, who led the Cambridge study, said that the finding “confirms that the co-occurrence between being autistic and being transgender and gender diverse is robust”, SciTechDaily has reported.
“We now need to understand the significance of this co-occurrence, and identify and address the factors that contribute to wellbeing of this group of people,” said Dr Warrier.
Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, Director of the Autism Research Centre, said that both autistic and trans or gender diverse people are marginalised and experience multiple vulnerabilities.
“It is important that we safeguard the rights of these individuals to be themselves, receive the requisite support, and enjoy equality and celebration of their differences, free of societal stigma or discrimination,” said Professor Baron-Cohen.
The study did not investigate the cause of the link between autism and gender diversity.