My name is Ethan Hinds I was born and raised in Indiana. I’m 19 years old and I have autism and am also legally blind. I started transitioning in the 2nd grade. At my school all the girls had to wear a dress on Wednesdays, and at that point I knew I was “different” and it wasn’t just my autism. In 3rd grade when I changed schools I started wearing boy clothes more in public.
At the end of my 3rd grade year I cut my hair short. After that I really didn’t do much transitioning till my sophomore year in high school when I started asking people to call me he/him pronouns and changed my preferred name. With that being said I just graduated from high school with the school calling “Ethan” as I walked across the stage. I’m currently in therapy to start T and get my letters for top surgery. Even though most people say that I’m pretty passing, I just think that the time has come for me to go through the right puberty. I went through the first puberty when I was eight years old because of all the medical things I was going through.
I wanted to share my little story because growing up I had no LGBTQ figure in my life and I didn’t even know what the word “transgender” meant till I was 16 teen and by that time I already was pretty much a boy I just thought I was the only one who had to become a man this way. I didn’t meet another trans person until I was 17 and I went to a LGBTQ group. Now I want to share and educate people on what it’s like having multiple disabilities and being trans.
Having autism and being trans is hard but it makes me who I am. Because I was diagnosed with autism at the age of two as I grew up and was being medicated for anxiety and autism, I have had many doctors tell me that “being trans is a side effect of the medication I’m taking to help control my autism. ”
Things like this would happen early on in my transition around middle school. Middle school was a difficult time for me – most people were just starting to go through the change, but that wasn’t the case for me – I had already been through the change.
In school people knew that I was one of the special kids, only the teachers knew I was trans – well that is till they messed up my name or pronouns. Then people started to talk and ask questions (that was ok I’m fine with questions), but answering those on top of kids already thinking that I’m strange enough with all the help I needed in school – It became a lot. As you can probably tell I only have a handful of friends. I started to isolate myself because nobody wanted to be around me because they were either confused about the whole “wanting to be a boy thing” or they had no idea how to help and understand a person with autism. But once you find those friends that do understand you keep those even if they’re only five friends, those friends are true friends.
I was medicated to help treat my autism I don’t believe in treating for autism because it’s not a disease or disability it’s something that makes me myself. It’s caused a lot of problems with the school system of course them not wanting to help accommodate my needs and also my family and all the new things I had to learn about it and how to make me more comfortable .
Over the years I have learned to accept the things that I do like my rocking back-and-forth and the need to obsessively schedule my life. Because for so long when I was young I tried to hide those traits so I could try to “blend in “, but to be honest once I started transitioning in little baby steps it helped me realize that I can’t hide who I am even if I do things that are “not normal” to others and that looks strange to people out in public.
In January of this year I started making YouTube videos about being trans, I do talk about my autism and how it affects my life. Sometimes it does get to me the fact that I can’t do certain things like everybody else can. I can’t drive, my social skills are a mess, my self care is not the best the best but I try to live my life without comparing myself to others because I’ve learned when you compare yourself to others you live a very unhappy life. I learned that I can either sit around and feel sorry for myself about being handicapped or I can use it as a tool to teach people about what it’s like to have autism and what people can do to make people like me feel more comfortable. I wouldn’t want to feel compared to anyone else anyway, because nothing I do is the same as other people, and I don’t want to be medicated for that, because it makes me, me.
I never felt that school really fully understood Me. Even when I started kindergarten I remember not being able to have my blanket with me, I had to keep it in my locker till nap time that was scary. Even though it was an everyday item, they made me put it in my locker because it made other people jealous.
It’s not just the schools its other people. People look down on us just because we have needs like everybody else, only they’re just different. People get upset when I don’t make eye contact and they say it’s rude and disrespectful. I apologize if have autism and making eye contact makes me uncomfortable but when I tell you I have autism & sight loss and you complain when I don’t make eye contact I think that tells me something about you .
School wasn’t the best place for me they tried to help but it never really did I think it helped them more than help to me with their self-centeredness. I almost didn’t graduate because of gym. They fought me on changing in the boys locker room, and said because of my gender marker, I had to change in the women’s. I didn’t feel comfortable with that, I was scared and told them I was afraid I would get beat up. They decided upon providing me with a private changing space in the girl’s locker room. I bought myself a fitbit and we settled on my emailing the school my daily stats, and they were nice enough to count that as gym credits. That helped me out and I hope it really helped out the other trans people who will go to my school one day and Face this problem .
Talking about school and stuff I want to talk about an incident I had my senior year in high school about my name and the yearbook. So in early August of that year I went to the principal and said “I’ve gone by Ethan for three years now and since my name is not legally changed it shows up in the yearbook as my birth name and that is weird when you’re wearing a suit and tie”. I asked if it would be OK if they could change it in the yearbook and they told me yes, that it was taken care of. So I went the whole school year thinking that I’ve helped the trans community at my school with having my name changed in the yearbook and also being a trans advocate in our GSA. But I was way way way wrong. Two days before the last day of school I get my yearbook and under my picture is my birth name. Both my family and I were so upset, because we were all under the impression that it had been taken care of, but it wasn’t and of course you know they’re like “It’s close to the end of the school year, what do you want us to do about it?”. I asked for a refund of my yearbook and they said they couldn’t do that. So right now it’s summer and I’m not going to drop this when the school year starts back up I’m gonna talk to them about it because they’re going to write the wrong and you did not only for me but for the LGBT community .
The point here is, with all that i’ve said; being trans with a disability doesn’t stop you from being an advocate. Even though I pioneered my struggles with the high school, in my own way, and even if it took me longer, it got done. I did not ever use my Autism or my being trans as an excuse, and if you’re anything like me, you shouldn’t either.