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Autism, Gender and Sexual Identity Conference

April 9, 2021 @ 9:00 am - 4:00 pm

Autism, Gender and Sexual Identity Conference

Friday, April 9, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

To register for this conference, click here.

For a printable event flyer, click here.



9:00 a.m. – Welcome

9:05 a.m. –  Autism and Identity: Making Sense of Gender, Presented by Peter Daniolos, M.D.

Learning Objectives:

Participants will leave this seminar with heightened appreciation of the importance of not foreclosing on gendered options when working with all youth, including those who present as gender nonconforming (GNC), gender diverse (GD), gender expansive (GE), gender non-binary, or transgender, with or without the clinical diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria (GD). Additional learning goals include:

  • To understand the role that Autism might play in the consolidation of gender identity.
  • To develop a deeper knowledge base of environmental and psychological factors that play central roles in adolescent identity formation in all adolescents, and the distorting impact of STIGMA leading to psychopathology.
  • To review the emerging data base supporting a higher rate of gender diversity (GNC/GE/etc.) in youth with autism, and vice versa.

10:30 a.m. – Break

10:45 – Noon – ASD & LGBTQ Panel

  • Elizabeth Graham
  • Sascha Klomp
  • Jillian Nelson
  • Abby Niederhauser

12:00 p.m. – Overview of LGBTQ Clinic at the University of Iowa – Katie Imborek

12:15 – Lunch Break

1:00 p.m. – The Gender and Autism Program: The First Clinical Care Program for Gender Diverse Neurodiverse Youth and Young Adults, Presented by John Strang, PsyD. 

John Strang will describe the development of the Gender and Autism Program, the first clinical support initiative for autistic gender-diverse youth and young adults. Co-created by autistic gender-diverse young people and their parents, the program offers evaluation, consultation, and ongoing support services. Dr. Strang will discuss the clinical models that inform care provided by the program. Structural elements of the clinical service will also be explored, including its multidisciplinary design, young clinician training initiative, and positioning within the larger autism and gender care programs at Children’s National. Practical approaches for adapting components of the program for diverse settings will be discussed

2:00 p.m. – Break

2:15 p.m. – Covering More Spectrums: On the Intersections of Autism, Gender Diversity, and Sexual Diversity., Presented by Anna van der Miesen, M.D.

Description: As not only gender diversity seems to be more common in autistic individuals, but also sexual orientation seems more diverse among autistic individuals, the literature to date with regard to sexual diversity and autism will be discussed including the potential impact on mental health. In addition, examples of stakeholder-derived research initiatives around sexual and gender diversity in autism will be discussed with directions for future research.

3:15 p.m. – Break

3:30 p.m. – Gender Identity and Autism: Partnering with the Community to Understand how Biology Plays a Role, Presented by Jacob Michaelson, Ph.D.

Some people are skeptical when scientists talk about genes and autism. Add gender identity to the mix and people get really nervous. We asked stakeholders and non-stakeholders about their attitudes regarding whether and how genetic research should investigate the links between brain development and gender identity. Surprisingly, we found that the stakeholder community was not opposed to this kind of research. Encouraged by these results, we have begun to partner with the community in the first genetically informed research into the intersection between autism and gender identity.

4:00 p.m. – Adjourn


Peter Daniolos, M.D.

Dr. Daniolos is an adjunct Clinical Professor in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at The University of Iowa Children’s Hospital, where he served as the Training Director of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Residency Training Program, and provided clinical evaluations as part of the University of Iowa Autism Center’s Child and Adolescent Psychiatry team.  He also ran the Gender Evaluation Program (GEP) in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, working in close collaboration with the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics’ LGBT Clinic at Iowa River Landing.

Dr. Daniolos recently moved to Andover, Massachusetts, from Iowa with his husband and two sons.  Prior to moving to Iowa, he served as the Training Director for the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry fellowship at Children’s National Medical Center/ The George Washington University Center, and the medical director of the Center  for Autism Spectrum Disorders, where he worked with a multidisciplinary team engaged in the diagnostic evaluation and treatment of autism spectrum youth.

He attended the University of Denver as an undergraduate, followed by medical school in his home state at the University of North Dakota.  He then did his Psychiatry residency at Duke, followed by his Child and Adolescent Psychiatry fellowship at Harvard/The Cambridge Hospital.

Jacob Michaelson, Ph.D.

Dr. Jake Michaelson is a Roy J. Carver associate professor in psychiatry and neuroscience and the division director of computational and molecular psychiatry at the University of Iowa. His lab uses advanced computational approaches to study the effect of genetic variations on the development of the brain, with specific applications in autism and language impairment. He earned his B.S. and M.S. in biological engineering at Utah State University before earning his PhD in computational biology at the Technische Universitat Dresden in Germany in 2010. After his time in Germany, he joined the lab of psychiatric geneticist Jonathan Sebat at UC San Diego, where he completed his postdoctoral training and published several of the earliest papers dealing with whole genome sequencing in autism. In 2013 he joined the faculty at the University of Iowa, and his current research is supported by NIMH, NIDCD, the Simons Foundation, and the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation.

John Strang, PsyD

John Strang, PsyD, is a neuropsychologist at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC. Dr. Strang is the founder and Director of the Gender and Autism Program, the first specialty service designed to support the care needs of autistic transgender and gender diverse youth and young adults. In 2014 he identified a high rate of gender diversity among autistic youth (DOI: 10.1007/s10508-014-0285-3). He then led an international expert work group to develop initial clinical guidelines for autistic gender diverse adolescents (2016; DOI: 10.1080/15374416.2016.1228462). Since then, he has collaborated with autistic transgender young people, their parents, and self-advocates and key stakeholders to develop and refine a clinical model to support autistic gender diverse youth and their families (2020; DOI: 10.1080/15374416.2020.1731817). Dr. Strang is also a specialist in self-report measure development, and is in the midst of calibrating a self-report measure to capture broad gender identities (binary and nonbinary) in youth and adults, on and off the autism spectrum. As part of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health Global Education Initiative (GEI) and Standards of Care revision workgroup, Dr. Strang is advocating for awareness of the common intersection of autism and gender diversity.

Anna van der Miesen, M.D.

Anna van der Miesen is a medical doctor in child and adolescent psychiatry at the Center of Expertise on Gender Dysphoria of the Amsterdam UMC, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. She combines her clinical work with gender and sexual diverse and neurodiverse/autistic children, adolescents, and young adults with research on the intersections of gender and sexual diversity, neurodiversity, and mental health. Dr. van der Miesen’s recent work has focused on community-based participatory approaches, partnering with gender-diverse, sexually diverse, and neurodiverse stakeholders to set research priorities and interpret study findings.


Elizabeth Graham (pronouns: she/her/hers)

Elizabeth is an autistic transgender woman. She was diagnosed with Asperger’s during her high school years while attending a private arts-based special education school in Washington, DC. Elizabeth was among the founding members of her school’s Gay-Straight Alliance when she was a post-graduate student in boarding school in Pennsylvania. In 2013, she graduated with her B.A. in Psychology and minor in Counseling from Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia where she received support from the College Program for Students with ASD. Her academic area of focus was bereavement in people with autism, inspired by personal experience. At Marshall she was involved with the student LGBTQ activist group, helping to bring awareness of transgender issues. Elizabeth began in the I/DD field as a direct care worker supporting adults with developmental disabilities in Montgomery County, Maryland who live in staff supported group homes and their own homes. She officially came out transgender and began her transition in the fall of 2015, when she began her current job. Since then, she has been working full-time at The Arc Prince George’s County where she is a Service Coordinator for the Maryland Medicaid Waiver for Children with Autism (aka Autism Waiver). In the fall of 2020, she began working part-time with Shared Support Maryland as an administrative assistant and person-centered planning trainer. Elizabeth is a member of The Arc of the United States National Council of Self Advocates. She is a co-leader of Maryland Trans Unity, a peer-led support group for transgender and gender nonconforming people in the DC-Maryland area. She plays the accordion as a hobby. She is active in her church where recently joined the choir in the alto section and has co-taught the Our Whole Lives sexuality education curriculum to the youth group. Elizabeth has been published by HuffPost, The Arc of the United States Autism Now, diverseAbility magazine, and self-published on Academia.edu.

Sascha Klomp

Sascha (he/him) is a trans man with ASS from the Netherlands. He is a trans activist who seeks to educate health care professionals to ensure better care for trans* individuals

Jillian Nelson

Jillian Nelson is an autistic adult, that works in the autism community as a Community Resource and Policy Advocate. Nelson was diagnosed as a young adult and has since focused her career on systemic changes to improve the lives of people impacted by Autism and other groups experiencing marginalization. Nelson is openly queer and polyamorous and shares her home with her dog and her life with her partners and support team.

Abby Niederhauser

Abby is a 33 year old diagnosed with autism. She is a member of the LGBTQ population.


April 9, 2021
9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Event Category:


Autism Society of Iowa