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Uncomfortable Labels Review

Uncomfortable Labels: My Life as a Gay Autistic Trans Woman by Laura Kate Dale

This is the story of Laura Dale and her experiences both as a trans lesbian woman, and an autistic woman. With such large correlation between being autistic and being trans, you would think there would be more trans autistic stories, but this is one of the only ones I could find. Dale shows how her marginalized identities affected her throughout her life.


Queer, neurodivergent, memoir


In this candid, first-of-its-kind memoir, Laura Kate Dale recounts what life is like growing up as a gay trans woman on the autism spectrum. From struggling with sensory processing, managing socially demanding situations and learning social cues and feminine presentation, through to coming out as trans during an autistic meltdown, Laura draws on her personal experiences from life prior to transition and diagnosis, and moving on to the years of self-discovery, to give a unique insight into the nuances of sexuality, gender and autism, and how they intersect.

Charting the ups and downs of being autistic and on the LGBT spectrum with searing honesty and humour, this is an empowering, life-affirming read for anyone who's felt they don't fit in.


Dale was labeled gay when presenting as male due to her feminine nature, but she knew she was attracted to women. Her journey toward understanding herself as a trans woman took a while but eventually resulted in greater happiness for her.

Her autistic identity and the treatment of her because of it also complicated her life. Dale speaks about how people would often invalidate her gender identity due to her autism, with the idea that autistic people are being misled and can’t understand their own identities. This rhetoric is very common among TERF ideology and was even put in JK Rowling’s transphobic essay. Dale talks about how infantilizing this is toward autistic people.

One thing I noticed is that Dale refers to autistic people as “people with autism.” The vast majority of the autistic community rejects this language. I believe you should identify and label yourself as you want, but it was rather annoying when she referred not only to herself as a person with autism, but autistic people as a whole. It was a personal pet peeve of mine because most people don’t want to be called that, but is probably unnoticeable to other people.

The exploration of trans and autistic identity and how they intersect is so fascinating. Trans people are pressured to perform their gender traditionally in order to “pass,” so a trans woman is pressured to wear very feminine clothes and jewelry. For an autistic person, this can be a struggle because of sensory issues, so Dale was caught between wanting to be recognized as a woman without being overwhelmed sensorily. This is something most people don’t even think about, because we always only think about autism in boys, but the pressures of femininity on autistic girls are hard, and this is only magnified by being trans.

This is an excellent memoir offering a different perspective of autism than the typical white cis male one. We need more of these perspectives, and I’m glad I found this one. It’s not very long and can easily be read in a day, and I would recommend it.

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