A health clinic in Colorado specializing in dealing with autistic children organized a Story Hour featuring drag performers at an event earlier this month.
The event featured what the organizers described as a show appropriate for the ages of the children involved and would be performed by five drag artists and was promoted through an email sent to parents.
This day treatment program is licensed through the state of Colorado and primarily utilizes a Behavior Analysis type therapy for patients who suffer from autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
The email, addressed to “7D Families,” invited parents to fill out a permission form if their child intended to attend the Drag Story Hour.
According to the email, the event would include stories, various activities, and performances by drag artists such as August Celestial, JustinN’Out, Brennan Sexyback, Jaques Strapp, and Sunni Delight.
The activities listed were “If You’re a Kid Like Gavin,” “The Girl Who Thought in Pictures,” “Auntie Uncle-Drag Queen Here,” a freeze dance, and a parachute party.
Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs), certified professionals specializing in the approved therapy, were mentioned in the email as involved in the event.
Parents Defending Education (PDE), a national organization advocating for parental rights, obtained a copy of the email and expressed concerns about the clinic’s decision to target programming at a vulnerable population.
PDE submitted a public records request to Jeffco Public Schools in Jefferson County, Colorado, to investigate any formal agreement between the health clinic and the district.
It was reported that a contract between the two entities does exist and is set to expire on June 30, 2023, with a maximum payment limit of $250,000 for all orders during the contract term.
Recent studies have shown a higher prevalence of transgender identities among children and adolescents on the autism spectrum.
Several researchers have identified a connection between autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and gender dysphoria, with autistic traits found at higher rates among individuals experiencing gender dysphoria than the general population.
Additionally, some researchers believe that the number of young girls with autism who identify as transgender may be underestimated, suggesting a need for separate diagnostic criteria to detect autistic traits in girls accurately.
The now-closed Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) at the U.K.’s Tavistock Centre found a significant overrepresentation of autistic adolescents among referrals to their clinic.
The National Health Service commissioned a review by pediatrician Dr. Hilary Cass to investigate the rise in adolescent biological girls seeking referrals to gender clinics.
Previous reports have also highlighted a link between autism and the transgender population, suggesting that individuals who identify as transgender are three to six times more likely to be autistic.
Some medical professionals have raised concerns about exploiting high-functioning autistic children, suggesting they may believe they are transgender without proper assessment and support.
Dr. Susan Bradley, a Canadian psychiatrist with experience in working with gender dysphoric children, expressed concerns about the automatic acceptance of children who question their gender identity without thorough evaluation.
She suggested that for some children, identifying as transgender explains difficulties they may have faced, even if their underlying issues remain unresolved.