I originally wrote and published this piece in the Spring of 2015. This is an updated version, slightly revised and expanded in the Summer of 2021.
The definitive, citable version of this essay, along with supplementary comments, can be found in my book Neuroqueer Heresies.
I coined the term neuroqueer in a paper I wrote for a grad school class in the Spring of 2008. Over the next several years, I played with it in further grad school papers, in private conversations, and in the ongoing development of my own thoughts and practices. The concept of neuroqueer, or of neuroqueering (I’ve always seen it as a verb first and an adjective second), increasingly came to inform my thinking, my embodiment, and my approach to life.
When I first started publishing pieces of my writing on neurodiversity in 2012, I wasn’t ready to put the term neuroqueer out into the world yet. I wanted more time to let it simmer, to think and feel my way into its nuances and implications. In early 2014, though, I mentioned it in in a small private Facebook group for autistic bloggers, and discovered that my friend and colleague Athena Lynn Michaels-Dillon had also come up with the term independently and had also been playing around with it, letting it simmer, and thinking about putting it into publication eventually. Another dear friend and colleague, Remi Yergeau, who was also in that discussion, revealed that although the term neuroqueer was new for them, they’d been thinking along quite similar and compatible lines in playing with the concept of “neurological queerness.”
The three of us—Athena, Remi, and I—emerged from that conversation freshly inspired to begin introducing the term, and the set of concepts and practices it describes, into our public work and into our communities and the broader culture. Athena and I, along with our friend B. Martin Allen and others, founded the independent worker-owned publishing house Autonomous Press, and its imprint NeuroQueer Books, to publish books with neuroqueer themes (including the annual Spoon Knife multi-genre neuroqueer lit anthology).