In my role as a trainer and supervisor of volunteers at an LGBTQ+ Community Center, I have many written documents detailing scripted rubrics for every possible situation and contingency. The variety and breadth of such may boggle the non-Autistic, but such is essential for me to execute The Professional Mask that gets me through my day.
As defined, a Professional Mask is about creating healthy boundaries, being fair, and holding oneself accountable. All folk should do so. The fort is just more deliberate and taxing, takes more time and execution more faulty for we Autistics.
The energy required is near nuclear-powered, and fallout indeed is always a looming possibility, potentially catastrophic to end a job, derail a career. My Mask of Professional Etiquette is my Shield of Labor, a magic item created by me, powered by my own blood and soul.
I’m blessed to have tremendous colleagues, allies who give me space and allow me to build my boundaries without judgment. If only everyone could do such work in a deliberate and branded Safe Space such as my LGBTQ+ Center.
Ideally, the world should be a Safe Space, but it’s not.
The world has sexism and prejudice, power, oppression, with a privileged minority creating a collective reality that promotes should and should not behaviors beyond a respectful fairness.
Masks created, as well do, are about respecting boundaries, personal emotional accountability, and fairness, not to fit in, be another person, remove personal power and agency.
As Autistic, I’m sometimes unaware I’m experiencing sexism. As Autistic, I’m sometimes unaware that my White Privilege is impacting a scenario, and that I need be aware of it.
I reply on an honest world to let me know if I’m being oppressed and if I’m an oppressor. However, the privileged few have created a reality that forces Masks of Autistics, of LGBTQ+ folk, of women, of blacks, Shields of Labor to hide behind, save their lives behind, and such shields often fail, for heinous power plays, fear mongering and cruelty are an unfortunate force in our world, allowed by complacency.
As Autistic, I Mask to fit in, make healthy boundaries, be fair, hold myself accountable. It is not an experience unique to our neuro diversity, the energy impact is, but the need to do it is not. All humans in society mask, it’s just the deliberate extent.
However, I will not claim I’m exclusive when my LGBTQ+ family, black family, people of color family, women, etc, also are forced to Mask in the hennous fashion to remove self and agency.
Diversity is Diversity, neurodiversity scientifically is what has created cultural diversity as people across time adapted to varied ecology, using novelty and innovation derived from neurodiversity.
Neurodiversity is survival. Variety and difference enables survival.
To enforce Masks and restrictive conformity dooms us all. To remove the Masks may, indeed, save us.