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Join us on Autistic Pride Day to celebrate Autistic and LGBTQIA+ identity and culture.

Intersectional Identities: Autism, gender, sexuality

Autistic individuals experience a high prevalence of sexual orientation and gender diversity. Reframing Autism and The Autistic Realm Australia are pleased to announce that the 2021 Biannual Symposium will be held on June 18, Autistic Pride Day, at Brighton Savoy. Taking place during Pride Month, the Symposium will provide a platform for Australian Autistic, LGBTQIA+ speakers to share their lived expertise in intersectional identities.
Appropriate for the Autistic community, as well as for families, allies and professionals, the symposium will provide access to an in-depth exploration of the experiential knowledge of Autistic-LGBTQIA+ individuals, an understanding of which is crucial to supporting Autistic individuals across the lifespan.
The structure of the program at the 2021 Biannual Symposium has been designed to ensure accessibility, and to encourage engagement and interaction.
The single-stream program will include expert sessions, panel discussions, and keynote presentations by Dr Emma Goodall and Dr Wenn Lawson. The expert sessions and panel discussions will cover the broad themes of:
  • youth experiences
  • implications for practice and parenting, and
  • living intersectional identities authentically
We are pleased to share with you the agenda for the day:
9:00am, WELCOME
Welcome to Country, N’arweet Dr Carolyn Briggs AM (Boon Wurrung Elder),
Conference opening, Kathy Isaacs (Chairperson, Reframing Autism & TARA)
9:20am, PAPER
Resolving intrapersonal gender conflict through contemporary understandings of gender non-conformity and queer theory: Personal and academic perspectives, Katharine Annear
9:40am, Sensory break
Sex Education and Autistic/LGBTQIA+ young people, Dr Emma Goodall (explicit content warning)
10:45am, Morning tea
11:15am, PANEL, Youth perspectives
Sam Rose in conversation with Christian Tsoutsouvas, Shi Down and Shadia Hancock
12:15pm, Lunch
1:00pm, SESSION, Implications for practice and parenting
Facilitating true inclusion for Autistic LGBTQI+ in educational and social settings, Meg Eusope
What do you do when your child comes to you and says…: Practical support strategies, Anna Cristina
Parenting for good mental health: What every neurodivergent & LGBTQIA+ child needs you to know, Amanda Buckland
2:00pm, Sensory break
2:15pm, PANEL, Living intersectional identities authentically
Kathy Isaacs in conversation with Jae Evergreen, Jerico Mandybur, Stevie Lang and Yenn Purkis
3:15pm, Afternoon tea
Autistic Gender Identity: A Research Perspective, Dr Wenn Lawson


Key note presenters

Dr Emma Goodall

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is an Autistic author, keynote speaker, researcher and disability and education consultant.


She works both publicly and privately to facilitate the best life outcomes possible for people, including Autistics with a range of support needs. She has written and presented on education, Autism, resilience, mental health, interoception, relationships and sexuality for Autistics. 

Emma is an adjunct Professor at the University of Wollongong and a member of the Australian Society for Autism Research (ASfAR) Executive Committee, on the access committee for the Autism CRC Biobank and an MSc student at University of Southern Queensland.


She developed an online module on interoception for Torrens University and has collaborated with the Australian Psychological Society to develop an Autism–specific course for psychologists.


Widely published, Emma writes for both academic journals and for mainstream publishers in the areas of Autism, disability and education.


She also supports organisations to develop and implement plans to support adult Autistics in residential settings and provides life coaching and interoception coaching for Autistic adults, children and young people, schools, preschools and other organisations, through her Healthy Possibilities Consultancy. 

Sex Education and Autistic/LGBTQIA+ young people (explicit content warning) 


How do we know who we are attracted to and what we might like or not like in a sexual relationship?


Sexuality and intimate relationships for Autistics are explored in this presentation with honest observations about the impact of sensory sensitivities and difficulties in communication between Autistics and non-autistic partners.


Issues around consent and safe ways to explore sexual activities will be presented through a card game.  

Dr Wenn Lawson

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(PhD) AFBPsS; MAPS; AASW, Autistic lecturer, psychologist, researcher, advocate, writer and poet, has passionately shared professional and personal knowledge of Autism over the past three decades.

He has written/contributed to more than 25 books and many papers. Wenn is an Associate Researcher with Curtin University (WA) and Macquarie University (NSW).

He is Tutor Practitioner with the University of Birmingham’s (UK) Masters Autism course, member of the Autism Co-operative Research Centre (ACRC), Co-Chair of the Autism Research Council, Australia, Ambassador for ‘I CAN’, Australia, and on the Editorial Board ‘Autism in Adulthood’.


Dr Wenn is also a member of The ND Co. Australia, and a family man with Autistic offspring and grandchildren.


In 2008 Dr Wenn won fourth place as Victorian Australian of The Year and in 2017 he presented to the United Nations on matters of Autism and ageing. 

Autistic Gender Identity: A Research Perspective 

Statistically Autistic individuals are nine times more likely to commit suicide (7.5%–15%) than individuals in the non-autistic population (see: Cassidy, 2015; Pelton & Cassidy, 2017).


Gender identity in Autism is often formed slowly, with little access to role models, is often not in line with social expectation and can be at odds with family, friends and society at large.


It would seem gender variance is common and gender dysphoria higher than in the non-autistic population. When living with gender dysphoria (GD) and Autistic, however, individuals are doubly disadvantaged.


While individuals in the non-autistic population living with GD are 40–50 times more likely to attempt suicide, than those living without GD (Peterson, et al 2016), we are uncertain what this means in Autism.


This presentation is given to encourage conversation re: Autism, gender, GD and gender variance in Autism. Is GD more common in Autism and are we prepared for this population?


This talk offers, in practical ways, ideas to help understand, as well as practical guidance on discovering the intersectionality of gender identity, GD and Autism.


Misunderstanding and applying typical perspectives to gender issues and Autism will only push this population into further mental health issues.


Knowledge is power and power, used appropriately, can empower those we support. 

Proudly sponsored by:

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Gold and Scholarship Sponsor:
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network,
Australia and New Zealand (ASAN AUNZ)
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Silver Sponsor:
Autism Connect (AMAZE)
Scholarship Sponsor:

This event is co-hosted by Reframing Autism and the Autistic Realm Australia Inc.  and funded by an ILC grant administered by the DSS.

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