Someone wearing red sneakers choosing between genders

#BiWeek2016 is Coming! Bisexual Awareness Week

Are you aware that next week (September 18-24) is Bisexual Awareness Week?

If you are a provider, you may have to ask your patient, “Who do you have sex with? Men, women, or both?” Some of your patients will inevitably say “Both.” These folks may identify as bisexual, pansexual, queer, fluid, or another term that encompasses attraction to more than one gender. Or, they may not choose any label to describe themselves. However, they are all considered part of the bisexual (or non-monosexual) community, and I’m here to make the case that it’s important to know if your patient is a member of this community for many reasons.

First, bisexuals often have different lived experiences from people who identify as straight or gay. These are reflected in bisexual-specific health disparities:a confused green person caught between a blue person and an orange person who don't like each other

These stem from the same main cause of all LGBTQ+ health disparities: stigma. The stigma that bisexuals face in particular is called biphobia, and it plays out in harmful stereotypes that are as common in the larger LGBTQ+ community as they are among heterosexuals. This stigma leads to isolation among bisexuals and a hesitance to seek care.

Second, while there is growing evidence that bisexual-identified people make up the largest group within the LGBTQ+ label, yet this community has the fewest resources. According to a 2014 report by Funders for LGBTQ Issues, less than one percent of all LGBTQ-related funding from foundations and corporations were dedicated to bisexual-specific causes. Meanwhile, up until 2011, the National Institutes of Health funded 134 research studies involving bisexual subjects; however, most of these studies lumped bisexual men and women in with gay men and lesbians. While these studies sometimes lead to more health resources, those resources actually tend to be more focused toward gay and lesbian populations.

Isolated tooltip with a bisexual pride flagBummer, huh? Well, part of the motivation to start Bisexual Awareness Week came from the need to bring awareness to these health concerns. However, there are so many reasons to celebrate bisexuality, pansexuality, and fluidity. We’ll explore a few of these in our blog next week! In the meantime, check out these resources:

Shea Hazarian (pronouns: she/her/hers) is a Junior Specialist at the UC Davis School of Medicine and the Improving OUTcomes coordinator. Fun fact: she came out to her mother at age 18 by identifying herself as bisexual in a scholarship award biography.