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Becoming autistic: how do late diagnosed people assigned female at birth understand, discuss and create their gender identity through the discourses of autism?

Maddox, Emily Violet (2019) Becoming autistic: how do late diagnosed people assigned female at birth understand, discuss and create their gender identity through the discourses of autism? MPhil thesis, University of Leeds.

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The overarching concern of this thesis is discovering what it is that autism does to gender. This thesis argues that autism has come to constitute a form of gender trouble. Thus, the central question is how people assigned female at birth who have been formally diagnosed with autism as adults understand their gendered identity pre and post diagnosis. This thesis ascertains whether the diagnosis of autism holds any significance in how autistic individuals understand, think about and produce their gender. This thesis is interested in how an autistic identity is negotiated and how an autistic subjectivity emerges. It takes as its central proposition that autism is a masculinised diagnostic category and one which is produced and knowable through a masculinised discourse. Furthermore, autism is categorised as a neurodevelopmental disorder, thus, it becomes attached to the self or the ‘I’ of the person diagnosed through contemporary understandings of neurology and the self. This thesis determines if the gender trouble that is seemingly bound to autism plays out in the identity formation of those diagnosed and whether the diagnosis has any bearing on how they understand their gendered identity. Eight people assigned female at birth who reside in the United Kingdom and who have been diagnosed as autistic by services in the National Health Service at eighteen years old or over have been interviewed for this thesis. The purpose of speaking with this particular group of individuals is to understand whether autism becomes a lens through which identity is constructed and whether this identity becomes framed by, or is resistant to, the gendered discourses which produce autism. And, indeed, whether these discourses which are so commented upon in the academic literature and popular discourse alike actually have any bearing on how individuals come to understand themselves as autistic subjects. Thus, this mode of investigation pays specific attention to how one becomes autistic; which resources and knowledges are drawn upon to understand the self and whether these are used to create an understanding of the self-post diagnosis.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds) > School of Sociology and Social Policy (Leeds)
Depositing User: Ms Emily Maddox
Date Deposited: 06 May 2020 12:13
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2020 09:47
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/26681

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