IDAHOBIT 2018: Why we need to take biphobia seriously

We need to talk about biphobia.

Bisexual people can find themselves trapped in the middle of two worlds, and feel like they are not fully included in neither.

As they face discrimination and erasure from straight and gay people alike, this could partly be why bi people earn less on average, feel less happy and suffer from higher levels of anxiety than other sexualities.


It’s that culmination of stress that leads to some pretty damaging perceptions of bi people being touted.

Biphobia differs from homophobia.

Although people may be more familiar with the latter, stereotypes and prejudices about the bisexual community are damaging.

When bi people experience the world as “not being gay enough” or “not being straight” enough, they find themselves unaccepted, isolated and sometimes have their sexuality classified as “just a phase.”

The threat of bi-erasure is also a grim reality for bi people.

Even Pride in London came under fire for failing to include bisexual people at the annual Pride march – with a story by PinkNews highlighting that no bisexual groups had been registered to march at the festival.

Bisexuals can find that the existence of their sexuality is ignored or marginalised by people who don’t understand it, in spite of 0.8 percent of the UK population identifying as bisexual.


Straight people also think bi women are less inclined to be monogamous, less agreeable and less conscientious than people of other sexualities.

The authors of a study noted that “bisexual women were evaluated as more confused and promiscuous relative to non-bisexual women.

“Moreover, the stereotypical evaluations of bisexual women were inversely related to knowledge about these stereotypes.”

Related: This bisexual activist is stripping off to fight discrimination

Research published in the Journal of Public Health shows that bisexual women are a third more likely to have self-harmed than lesbians, and nearly two-thirds more likely to develop an eating problem.

Bisexual women were found to be more likely to remain in the closet – and more likely to experience discrimination from friends.

According to the latest Intimate Partner Violence survey, bisexual women were 32 percent more likely to have been a victim of sexual assault than straight women, and 29 percent more likely than lesbian women.


WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 09: People marching with anBi, a bisexual organization, carry a bisexual flag in the 43rd L.A. Pride Parade on June 9, 2013 in West Hollywood, California. More than 400,000 people are expected to attend the parade in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)


Dr Ford Hickson, the senior study author, said: “Bisexual people are at particular risk of invisibility and marginalisation from both gay/lesbian communities and mainstream society.

The statistics, released by the Office of National Statistics in honour of Pride, show that LGB people also report feeling less happy and more anxious than their straight British counterparts. This is particularly true of bisexual people, who were also 40 percent more likely to describe themselves as unhappy.

Bisexual people feel less happy and more anxious than other sexualities, according to an ONS report released in 2017.

They also have a lower amount of overall life satisfaction and feel less worthwhile than straight, gay and lesbian people do, according to the figures.

Image of sad, older woman crying, holding tissue (Photo: bialasiewicz)

According to the study, 21 percent of men who have sex with men and women (MSMW) report treatment for STIs in the past year, compared to 12 percent for gay men and 2.3 percent for straight men.

They were also less likely to be screened for HIV than men who exclusively have sex with men, which could lead to undiagnosed HIV and unknowing transmission.

A HIV testing kit

Researcher Dr. William Jeffries wrote: “Biphobia can manifest in erroneous beliefs that MSMW are gay men who have not disclosed their sexual orientation and, particularly for black men, responsible for HIV transmission to women.

“Experiencing these sentiments can contribute to MSMW’s social isolation and psychological distress, which in turn may promote HIV/STI risk through substance use, sexual risk behaviours, and the avoidance of prevention services.”

And these inequalities can manifest themselves in less predictable ways.

Bisexual women are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than anyone else, according to a new study.

The stress that they encounter in their lives is contributing to their likelihood of suffering from the devastating disease.

“Minority stress is theorised to be a central reason why [lesbian and bisexual] women are at elevated risk for physical health problems including type 2 diabetes,” the report concluded.

sad woman

Bisexuals, particularly bisexual women, are even less likely to sleep than people of another sexuality.

Gay men encounter more problems falling asleep, while lesbians were more likely to have trouble staying asleep than their straight counterparts.

But it seems bisexual women have it the worst, dealing with more issues both in terms of drifting off and when it comes to staying that way.

Bi women are also six percentage points less likely than straight women to get the amount of sleep recommended by the National Sleep Foundation.

Of course, this doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

And when the effects of biphobia and societal prejudice affect such basic elements of a bisexual person’s livelihood, it’s time to admit that we have a problem.