E114 - We’re all the same and a little bit different - Yenn Purkis, speaker author, Autism advocate, non binary gender person

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Yenn Purkis is a non-binary gender person with Asperger’s syndrome. They are an author of 6 books, a TED X speaker, and a passionate advocate for autistic people and their families. From an early age, Yenn knew they weren’t like other folks, and was bullied mercilessly for being different. Academically brilliant, they were dux of the school, but not fitting in and being ostracised for it led to several early adulthood years spent in self destruction. Yenn emerged from this determined to be successful and fulfil professional ambition. With a published book in hand, they applied to many jobs and was successful to land one. This is the origin story of a remarkable individual who overcame being singled out for difference to becoming a public champion for inclusion.

In this interview we explore what it means to be non binary gender, how to be aware of privilege as a generator of bias, how reading books is an excellent way to expand perspective and understanding of others, how becoming comfortable and aware of who we are drops anxiety about status, why diversity is a noun and inclusion is the verb or responsibility in leadership, how the intersection of elements of difference (like being non binary gender AND autistic) multiplies the challenge effect for inclusion, and how it is PRIVILEGE and not ‘norm’ that measures distance from center and influence. Reason to listen: learn about life from a different lens.


About Yenn Purkis 


Yenn Purkis is an author, public servant and passionate advocate for Autistic people and their families. Yenn is the author of 'Finding a Different Kind of Normal: Misadventures with Asperger Syndrome' – an autobiography, 'The Wonderful World of Work: A Workbook for Asperteens'- an activity book about employment for teens on the Autism spectrum. Yenn is co-author of 'The Guide to Good Mental Health on the Autism Spectrum' and 'The Parents' Practical Guide to Resilience for Children aged 2-10 on the Autism Spectrum.' Yenn has also contributed to other books, journals, blogs and websites. Yenn has a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome and atypical schizophrenia.

Yenn has been working full-time for the Australian Public Service since 2007. In between writing and paid work, Yenn frequently gives talks about living well with Autism and mental illness. Yenn gave a presentation on Autism and resilience at the TEDx Canberra conference in 2013. Yenn facilitates a support group for women on the Autism spectrum and has their own internet radio show entitled Yenn's Autism Show. Yenn lives in Canberra with their little black kitty.

Yenn was the 2016 ACT volunteer of the year.

Read more at their site - Yenn Purkis

Read about non binary gender HERE


Read about autism HERE

Related episodes:

E21 - Business and Community: An Advocacy Opportunity, with Susan Helyar, ACTCOSS

E13 - Inclusion builds community - David Leitch, Master Builders Association ACT

E17 - CEO Lifeline, Carrie Leeson: Compassion Trumps Competition


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