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Autistic Traits, Empathizing–Systemizing, and Gender Diversity

Hendriks, O, Wei, Y, Warrier, V and Richards, G (2022) Autistic Traits, Empathizing–Systemizing, and Gender Diversity. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 51 (4). pp. 2077-2089. ISSN 0004-0002

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Previous research indicates a link between autism and transgender and gender-diverse identities, though the association is not yet fully understood. The current study examined autistic traits (Autism Spectrum Quotient [AQ]), empathizing (Empathizing Quotient-Short [EQ-S]), and systemizing (Systemizing Quotient-Short [SQ-S]) in a sample of 89 adults and aimed to test whether gender-diverse individuals exhibit cognitive profiles consistent with predictions derived from the Extreme Male Brain (EMB) theory. As most research has considered only cisgender people, we recruited a more diverse sample by contacting > 200 UK LGBTQ+ organizations and posting on social media. A range of non-cisgender identities (e.g., transgender male, transgender female, non-binary, genderqueer, transmasculine) and non-heterosexual orientations (e.g., bisexual) were represented, and participants were categorized into one of four groups: (1) assigned female at birth but does not identify as female (transgender AFAB) (n = 32), (2) cisgender female (n = 21), (3) assigned male at birth but does not identify as male (transgender AMAB) (n = 18), and (4) cisgender male (n = 18). After controlling for age and autism diagnostic status, transgender AFAB participants had marginally higher AQ scores, and significantly higher SQ-S and systemizing-relative-to-empathizing (D) scores, compared with the cisgender female group. No such differences were detected between the transgender AMAB and cisgender male groups. Our findings are broadly in line with predictions derived from the EMB theory, though as no transgender AFAB participants reported being heterosexual, it was not possible to determine whether these effects relate specifically to gender identity, to sexual orientation, or to both.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Clinical Psychology; 1117 Public Health and Health Services; 1699 Other Studies in Human Society; 1701 Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Divisions: Psychology (from Sep 2019)
Publisher: Springer Science and Business Media LLC
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 10 Oct 2022 09:12
Last Modified: 10 Oct 2022 09:15
DOI or ID number: 10.1007/s10508-021-02251-x
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/17760
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