Bisexuals face biphobia from LGBT community

Jacob Williams, Opinion Editor

Within the ranks of the LGBT community, ostracized bisexuals have their orientation denied and censured by their fellows, to say nothing of immense conservative admonishment.

The “biphobic” harangues often begin with some incarnation of the following statement: “Bisexuality is just a phase; they’re confused and sooner or later will figure out if they’re gay or not.”

Bisexual organizations, like the American Institute of Bisexuality, are affronted by such criticism. Activists work to spread understanding that not only does bisexuality definitively exist but that there currently exists within the LGBT community a greater number of bisexuals than either gays or lesbians.

Activist efforts are stymied by a pervasive “misunderstanding” by fellow LGBT community members, who accuse bisexuals of dishonesty and self-deception.

A.I.B. President John Sylla opines that it is rare for bisexuals to be open about their orientation.

“Most bisexuals are in convenient opposite-sex relationships and aren’t open about their sexual orientation,” Sylla said in “The New York Times.” “Why would you be open, when there is so much biphobia?”

In fact, a 2013 Pew Research Survey reported that only 28 percent of polled bisexuals were openly identified.

Bisexuals are not the only LGBT community members combating discrimination and ignorance from their fellows; pansexuals and transgendered people also struggle for acceptance.

Pansexuality refers to a person who is attracted to anybody but not everybody; this is a common misconception. A pansexual could fall in love with a man, a woman, or someone in between (like a person who is “male” from the waist down and “female” from the waist up).

Within the folds of the transgendered community, new terms are springing up to describe gender orientations.

Sex and gender are not interchangeable terms, and nor are the terms transgender and transsexual.

Biological sex refers to the assignment a person is prescribed as birth, either male or female. Gender refers to societal and cultural connotations a person accepts regarding the biological sexes. Someone who is transgendered could be of the male sex but the female gender, and self-identify as a woman (or vice-versa). Transsexuals are people who have partially or completely transitioned to the opposite gender, by way of hormone therapy and/or sex reassignment surgery.

Genderqueer refers to people who identify outside the gender binary (males and females). Intersexed people are those who are born with reproductive anatomy that is neither entirely male nor female.

Bigender refers to a person identifying as both male and female, third gender refers to a person identifying as a ternary gender, pangender refers to a person identifying as all genders, and agender refers to a person identifying as having no gender.

Bisexuals are commonly accused of being transphobic because it is believed that bisexuality only permits two genders and that bisexuals therefore promote trans erasure. This is due, bisexuals said in response to a Live Science article titled “Pansexual: A ‘New’ Sexual Orientation?” to a misunderstanding of what bisexuality actually means.

On the Bisexual Resource Center webpage, the author explains bisexuality to the misinformed.

“It’s critical to note that ‘bisexuality’ is a word reclaimed by the bisexual movement from the medical institution,” BRC said. “The bi community had little to no influence over the formation of the word.”

“The bi in bisexual refers not to male plus female, but to attraction to genders like our own, plus attraction to genders different from our own. In other words, it’s the ability to move in two directions along a continuum of multiple genders.”

Consequently, it is argued by some bisexuals that bisexuality and pansexuality share an immense overlapping, and that one’s identity choice ought to be respected by others, particularly within the beleaguered bi and trans communities.

Junior Tamara Johnston, an open pansexual, agrees.

“When gays and lesbians say,‘it’s just a phase,’ they are attacking another person’s being,” Johnston said. “Did they not also go through ‘the phase’? If we want to win this battle for our rights to love whomever we wish, we need to stand together. Society demands too much of people; it’s foolish. People shouldn’t need to label themselves.”

Worth noting is that the preceding definitions of sexual and gender orientations are by no means entirely correct or complete. Sexual and gender orientations continue to be intensely debated by members of the LGBT community, with the result being many definitions of each label. Every LGBT citizen defines the identities slightly differently.