I am sitting in my English literature class: Monsters. We’ll be analyzing monsters across various forms of fiction and various cultures and time periods this semester; it’s intriguing, but first we need to define what a monster is. The class produces a list of traits: deformed bodies, lack of emotions or unstable emotions, lack of an ability to communicate, perverting “natural order”.
I am packing a bag to stay over at my boyfriend’s house. I grab my antipsychotics, my antidepressants, my ADHD medication. Multiple doses, multiple pill cases to split them up by what I need to take tonight, what I need to take tomorrow morning, and what I need to take tomorrow night. My birth control pills are already in my bag - I make a mental note to myself that I really need to see about getting an IUD. I grab my testosterone vial, and then realize I need to run upstairs for my needles and alcohol swabs. My boyfriend and I realize that my sharps container isn’t portable - “your parents are doctors, shouldn’t you have one at your place?” He doesn’t. Whatever, it doesn’t matter too much. Now to fit all my meds safely into my bags.
If there is a word that captures how most people perceive me, I would say it’s “creepy”. My friends assure me that this isn’t a charitable interpretation, and that I come across as intelligent and nervous, but I don’t think those things are mutually exclusive.
Why else would I have been treated the way I was at camp, or have had people cut off the ties they have with me? I don’t even need to ask - at this point, I have been called creepy to my face many times.
I am sitting in the audience at the theatre, finally able to see one of the classics of musical theatre: The Phantom of the Opera. It’s an emotionally powerful story, one that has me enchanted the entire time. The Phantom’s numbers in particular captivate me, but not out of pity or fear or attraction (at least, none of these exclusively). Something about Erik’s pain, and the way he takes it out both on others and himself, resonates. I cry for him when the show ends. In school some weeks later, I find myself wandering around an empty room, singing his parts for nobody but myself.
I am talking with another trans guy at school. He’s the only other one here, as far as I know. He has BPD, like many of my friends, and I feel that sometimes my autism manifests similarly. I’d like to talk to him more. I see him on Discord, and ask to add him. He’s on a server talking about clowns.
Being autistic means interacting with the world in certain ways, and people interpreting those interactions uncharitably. A lack of eye contact, for example, is taken to mean somebody is antisocial and untrustworthy, or at the very least uninterested. Boundaries are often crossed, not because I don’t care, but because I didn’t see them. Blunt phrases may seem like insults or a know-it-all attitude, and I don’t realize until the other person recoils.
Being transgender means having a body that’s “not quite right”. It means children gossiping in stores about your gender, eyeing you with suspicion and confusion. It means people will look at you and see the worst of both masculinity and femininity combined into one. It means distrust when strangers can’t quite figure you out.
I am aimlessly falling into rabbit holes on Tumblr. Animatronics blogs are my latest binge, learning about Showbiz Pizza and the ins and outs of the behind-the-scenes structure of Disney World. I notice that the bloggers in this circle are largely trans men, and largely autistic. Isn’t that a funny coincidence? Like how most other autistic trans men I have known love rats, or creepypasta, or cryptids, or semi-obscure YouTube horror-comedy ARGs. We idolize Alan Resnick. We think giant isopods are adorable.
I am in a group chat, full of other neurodivergent queer people. We’re talking about monster-fucking. We’ve all found an odd erotic appeal in the aliens from Alien, or depictions of Baphomet. Horror movie monsters are ripe for lewding. They’re not just acceptable, they’re sexy. So are we.
Queercoding is a concept where characters are written as being LGBT+, but not explicitly. They rely on tropes and stereotypes and subtle implications, creating someone who is not blatant representation, but painting in shades to evoke a reaction in the viewer without conceding to an attempt to frankly deal with gender or sexuality. Often, these characters are villains. Something similar exists for neurodivergent people, where psychosis and bad social skills and executive dysfunction and neuroses are added to a character, without daring to canonize anything. These characters are, too, often villains. Some villains are both queercoded and neurodivergent-coded. God forbid you be Buffalo Bill.