Not Alone

This is going to be a weird one, bear with me. As I posted yesterday, I have been watching a lot of TedTalks recently. Mostly about Autism. But today is sorta, kinda going to be a little different. But, again, bear with me.

I watched a TedTalks video this morning called “What I’ve Learned From Having Balls” by Emily Quinn. Emily was born intersex, meaning (forgive me for the terminology) she has a vagina externally but testes inside her body. Her entire spiel was about her so-called, “shame” and never being able to have children. She found out about her diagnosis at age 10 and had her first GYN appointment at age 12. According to Emily, doctor after doctor in her youth, told her she would have to have her testes removed. She didn’t.

She was terrified of telling anyone her secret. She was worried about having to suffer humiliation, or worse, a breakup. So after years of unnecessary genital exams, doctors who had no idea what they were talking about, and worry, in college, Emily had a guest speaker talk to her class about transgender individuals. After the session, Emily asked the speaker if she had heard about Emily’s condition. She said yes. For the first time in her life, Emily felt understood.

After a consult with the speaker, Emily was referred to a therapist and a surgeon. The surgeon, once again, performed an unnecessary genital exam “for his own interest or curiosity”. So that was a waste. The therapist, however, suggested Emily join a support group. So she did.

Emily said, for the first time in her life, she felt welcomed and accepted. She said something poignant and, to me, powerful. She said, “If you feel alone, no you’re not alone.” Attached below is the link to the Talk if you are interested, or even curious, as I was, to watch it. I suggest you do.

So what does this have to do with me? With my Autism? Unlike Emily, I was born all male. Like Emily, however, I was born with a difference, or “problem” if you are ignorant enough to put it like that. I have Autism. Like Emily, throughout my formative years, I felt alone. Only my family and closest friends knew I had Autism. And even then, did they really get it? So that’s why when I found my group and life’s calling, advocacy, I felt so empowered and affirmed in the fact that, no I wasn’t alone. Emily, in another TedTalk, said intersex people make up roughly 2% of the population. Granted, Autism is a Hell of a lot more prevalent than that. But hopefully you get what I’m trying to say. Autism stats, as of my writing this, is a 1/50 statistic. So as I said, a LOT more common than being intersex. But knowing there is a group of people like me out there, maybe not “exactly” (it is a Spectrum after all) like me, but in the same boat is so supporting.

Maybe I am comparing apples and French Toast here. Maybe being intersex and being Autistic are a world apart. Or maybe it is not so different. Genitals aside, being different and that feeling is universal when you’re, well…. “different”. So in a twisted kind of way, I can relate to Emily. Not as someone who is intersex, but as an individual who grew up feeling different.

So do you agree or not? What is your thought process? Let me know in the comments and thanks for reading!

-Tom

Author: AuTom Spectrum Blog

I have Autism and am a self-advocate and public speaker. On the side I do stand-up comedy. I live in Baltimore County and have an AMAZING girlfriend

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