Aisha N. Davis, Esq., Manager of Policy & Advocacy
This month, Howard Brown Health is highlighting the “B” in LGBTQ and recognizing Bisexual Health Month. As with every other part of our community, we honor the countless contributions and support of all of our bi+ community members and patients. If you are wondering what bi+ means, it is inclusive of bisexual and also other people who are attracted to more than one gender identity, like non-binary people. Bi+ includes other fluid sexual orientations like pansexual and queer. Here at Howard Brown, we recognize that bi+ people face biphobia from both straight and queer spaces, including assumptions and stereotypes about bi+ people. In an effort to combat these harmful presumptions, here are five common misconceptions about bi+ people – and why you should avoid them.
- Bi+ people are “confused”
One of the more universal experiences that bi+ people can commiserate over is being called confused, indecisive, or greedy. People often use this term to discredit bi+ identities and insinuate that we are attempting to straddle the line between hetero and homosexual identities. However, bi+ identities exist in their own right – not just as a grey area between the black and white of monosexual identities. Monosexual means that a person is only attracted to one gender identity.
- Trans and gender nonconforming people are not bi+ / Only cisgender people are bi+
This common misconception about bi+ identified people is based more on gender identity than sexual orientation. For many, when a TGNC person tells them about their identity, their first assumption is that the TGNC person is monosexual. This assumption is both incorrect and problematic, as it is often based in underlying beliefs about the gender binary and how attraction must look based on gender identity. In actuality, TGNC people’s identities are just as varied as cis and binary identified people – and includes bi+ identities.
- Bi+ people are cheaters
The assumption that bi+ people cannot, or will not, be faithful damages relationships and forces bi+ people to prove their loyalty in a way that monosexual people are not forced to. Some who carry this belief struggle to reconcile a bi+ person being committed and still being attracted to multiple – or all – genders. Bi+ people in relationships do not inherently cheat – just like monosexual people in relationships are not inherently faithful or unfaithful.
- Bi+ people have it easier than lesbians or gay men
As people who may find themselves in a relationship with someone of the opposite gender, or with differing gender presentation, some bi+ people have the potential to move through the world with people assuming that they are actually heterosexual. However, when we look at statistics around health outcomes for bi+ people, we see that bi+ people report double the rate of depression compared to heterosexual people and bi+ adults are more likely to engage in self-harming behaviors, attempt suicide, or think about suicide than heterosexual people, lesbians, or gay men. These health outcomes indicate that, even if we may be assumed straight by some people, bi+ people do not experience privilege across the board.
- Bi+ means that you are only attracted to binary people
A large part of this assumption relates to the word “bisexual” and assumptions about what bi+ people mean by identifying as bi+. Some bi+ people are only attracted to people with binary gender presentations, but this preference is not unique to bi+ people. There are people of any and all sexual orientations whose preferences lead them to be attracted to binary people. At the same time, there are bi+ people who are attracted to people of any and every gender.
While we cannot snap our fingers and erase these assumptions about bi+ people, Howard Brown will continue to embrace and provide space for our bi+ patients and community members. Happy Bi+ Health Month – you are welcome, seen, and appreciated!