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Autism has become a “biomedical platform” for sex difference research in fields such as genetics, endocrinology, and neuroscience. Increasingly, researchers in these fields pose the male prevalence of autism as a model for investigating sex differences in the brain, and offer basic research on sex differences in the brain as a resource for understanding the etiology of autism. The use of autism as a biomedical platform for sex difference research obscures empirical and interpretive contestations surrounding claims about the male prevalence of autism. We argue that the uncritical use of this research platform across many fields stands to distort scientific research on autism and contribute to harmful gender stereotypes.
Featured in National Geographic “Only Human” Blog, “The Sexual Politics of Autism.” July 11, 2014.