I find it really fucking infuriating when highly intelligent autistic people attribute every single positive trait or ability of theirs to autism. Typically, these people are women or AFAB nonbinary, which gives it a weirdly sexist feel. Admittedly, this fury is personal and is connected to old, deep trauma.

(I’ve been talking about myself a lot more lately, mostly because I’ve been processing over three decades’ worth of trauma, and it’s inextricably tied to my beliefs.)

My father lived in a 1950s time warp, where women were supposed to be quiet, tidy, somewhat dull, subservient, mousy, and unambitious. The idea of having a loud, intelligent, brash, creative, dreamy, transmasculine child was anathema to him.

On top of that, I was sexually assaulted by my father for being “too intelligent.” Specifically, around the time I hit the ceiling on an IQ test at the age of three (around the time I also received an autism diagnosis), I corrected my father’s spelling. His ego wounded, he decided to teach me a lesson by abusing me for it—mostly because he wouldn’t get away with his earlier molestation from when when he thought I was average or slow. I developed dissociative amnesia as a result, which lifted much later. From that moment onward, the autism diagnosis was used to suppress my intellect, stifle my creativity, justify the family’s sexism, and force me into obscurity.

And I come across countless autistic people—typically ones who were held up as gifted children, put through a different kind of pressure—describe themselves as being “just autistic,” “just developmentally disabled.” I know they are in pain because they were objectified for their intelligence and didn’t receive accommodations for their disabilities growing up. They didn’t deserve to be put on a pedestal when they were just kids who needed an education that worked for them, not for their starry-eyed parents. But when someone’s been literally raped for being too intelligent, when someone has been crushed and stifled with an autism diagnosis, when someone has been given useless accommodations and forced through special ed and ABA, that pain is going to be a lot louder.

When I hear this kind of talk, it is painful, as in physically painful. It reminds me of what I was forced to believe about myself—that I was “merely” an autistic savant who said intelligent-sounding things, but was really talking nonsense. That everything about me could be reduced to an entry in the DSM. I had the developmental disability identity shoved on me to destroy me. I am a disability activist, but I refuse to do that shit. I find it demeaning and degrading, and honestly a little insulting.

And to see people do this voluntarily makes me want to put myself in sackcloth and ashes as I mourn what could have been. It’s especially awful when it’s AFAB autistic people doing this (more frequently women and nonbinary people than trans men). And that is nearly always the case. The idea of anyone brought up as a girl in a patriarchal society minimising their intelligence feels as though it’s set the feminist movement back by sixty years.

Do you even fucking hear yourselves? You sound like “I’m just a dumb little woman. I’m not that intelligent, tee hee hee.” Do you realise how much this sounds like internalised sexism? Did those feminist leaders fight and bleed and sweat for nothing when they tried to prove their intelligence and competence?

While I sit here keening in agony because I had to deal with this kind of undiluted patriarchal bullshit that you were privileged enough to escape.

Don’t be an unwitting tool of the patriarchy.