My daughter is a young teen on the autistic spectrum. She walked into the public toilets at our local cinema (back when everything was open) and found herself in the presence of a man dressed as a women washing his hands. She was alone in there. She ran out scared, decrying that there was a man in the toilet, and that she would absolutely not go back in until he was gone. I was a bit shocked so I went in to check what was going on. There was indeed a man in there - he had long hair, wore a dress and had painted his nails - but he was huge. No wonder she felt scared. I came out to my daughter verging on a meltdown. And found myself, to my shame, trying to stop her being so loud about a man in toilet in case we were told off! Later I apologised to her because the fact is that there should not be a man in the toilets where young vulnerable girls go to do private things. As someone with a mental health condition, she is being asked to put her vulnerability, and how her mind and then body reacts to such things, below the perceived needs of a tiny group of men. It also highlighted to me - what are autistic children supposed to do with this new ideology? They absolutely cannot see passed the facts. My daughter, if alone and maybe a year or two older could have easily found herself saying to the man “what are you doing in here? This is a woman’s toilet!” and who knows what could have happened then. And she is being asked to deny actual fact for an ideology - as an autistic person this is seemingly impossible. I fear that autistic people will find themselves being targeted because of their black and white thinking, in a world where they need just as much understanding as the next person.
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