The most beautiful thing you can do is love the image of your true reflection.
Hi, I'm TeeKayy and I'm autistic. I was diagnosed with autism when I was six years old, and as a result, growing up was a challenge to say the least. I had trouble making friends and was bullied, however I found relief in cartoons, Power Rangers, K-Pop, dance and eventually cheerleading.
At the time, I didn’t feel I was ready to come out, but I had no other choice when someone I betrayed my trust. I finally had to admit to my peers that I was gay. About a year later at 15, I came out as gay to my parents. My mom wasn’t too pleased given our religious beliefs, so it wasn’t a very pleasant experience. I felt ashamed, like I was doing something wrong by family, and I hate to admit it, but I actually lost the will to live at this point. This was the most difficult and darkest time in my life, but thankfully I had the support of my true friends. They all had my back and helped me to keep my head up during a time when I needed it the most. I can’t thank my them enough for saving my life.
I realized I was gay when I was 11 and trans when I was 17. The true test of my will happened in middle school - that’s when I was bullied daily for basically being myself. Unfortunately, I had to learn very early in life that young teenage kids don’t take very well to other kids who are “different.” It was a very difficult and painful time in my life, but it made me stronger and more resilient as I got older. Things eventually improved for me in ninth grade when I decided to join the cheerleading team. This allowed me to feel like my true self, but also allowed me to hide amongst my teammates and be part of a group that accepted me. It was also the decision that eventually led to me being forced out the closet when rumors started to fly about my sexuality.
When I was 17 is when I admitted to myself that I still wasn’t living my truest life. It was then when I realized that I was actually a woman in a man’s body. When I finally came to this conclusion, is the day I was finally able to accept myself and come out to my friends as transgender. The hardships of being queer and autistic is the social aspect, but if you have the right friends by your side, you can get through anything. It’s scary to make new friends and open up about your life to new people, but I’m getting better at it every day. I’ve come to realize that we are all learning about ourselves every day and being the truest version of yourself is the key to happiness.
Celebrating Pride month is important to me because it’s a chance to express yourself to the max with no qualms! I struggled a ton growing up and I want my queer and autism family to know that they are valued and loved! ? Suicide is never an option. Always speak with someone that’ll listen. And always be true to yourself!
Learn more about my life as a transgender person on the spectrum in this Q&A
At what age were you diagnosed with autism?
I was diagnosed when I was in the first grade. My teachers noticed that my interactions with other kids my age were non-existent. They expressed concern to my parents that I didn’t seem to enjoy my time in recess and that I had a propensity to repeat certain patterns over and over again.
When did you realize what it meant to be on the spectrum?
I didn’t actually realize that I was autistic until I was 16. After a year of being in the Best Buddies program in school, I realized I wanted to teach special education, so I started looking up common disabilities you’ll find in the classroom. (Intellectual disabilities, epilepsy, fragile x syndrome, autism, Down syndrome). As I kept learning about autism, I vaguely remembered being told that I had something called Asperger’s syndrome, so I did more research and found out that it was known as a higher functioning version of autism.
In what areas of your life does your autism help you to excel?
Honestly, it helped boost my charisma and optimism allowing me to view things in a different lens.
What are some challenges you face as a result of ASD?
The biggest impact is still my social skills and being out in public. I have a ton of issues adjusting to crowds, flashing lights, loud sounds, and being without a certain person (typically an assigned person of trust given the venture/function).
As a gay/transgender person, can you draw similarities between being “different” or the struggles you have to face when coming out to family, friends and peers about your autism and your sexuality?
The struggles of coming out and telling your friends about both topics was terrifying because you don’t want to be treated differently. But the beauty is that you are loved eternally, regardless of your differences.
What advice would you give to a young person, recently diagnosed with autism, wondering what the future holds for them?
My advice is that the most beautiful thing you can do is love the image of your true reflection. Rip off your mask and embrace your persona.
What is the biggest thing you’ve learned up to this point in your journey as a transgender /autistic person?
KEEP LEARNING ABOUT YOURSELF!!!! Self-discovery is important and that’s on period.
What are some of your proudest moments?
My proudest moment was when I got an Academic Achievement Award in Pre-AP Physics during my junior year of high school, and when I started working as a Paraprofessional. Today, I am a senior at University of Houston-Downtown earning my Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in education and a minor in psychology.
What are your some of your goals for the future?
My primary goal is to become a Teacher of the Year. I also want to become either a licensed specialist in school psychology or educational diagnostician.
When you see pride month being celebrated all over the country and around the world, how does that make you feel?
It makes me feel free and happy to know that not everyone thinks that I am nuisance or a hinderance. I can express myself to the max.
What five words best describe TeeKayy?
Happiness. Mysterious. Mystical. Energetic. Ecstatic.