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Biphobia: Not in My Name

September 30, 2014
Unicorn Kitten says... Bisexuals are NOT Transphobic

A lot gets done in my name as a trans non-binary person. I choose to label as Bisexual, despite the many different clamoring voices all insisting I shouldn’t. Most often this takes the form of biphobia masking as “complexity of language” and” trans inclusion”. The idea that the word bisexual somehow reinforces the western gender binary, and thus is harmful to trans people like myself, is such a common way biphobia is expressed that it currently is next to “Photograph” by Nickelback on my personal list of things I can’t stand to hear any more.

This idea isn’t rooted in the idea of complex language but biphobia. When people talk about how words reinforce the binary it is ONLY ever in regards to bisexuality. I have been to many LGBT spaces where this has come up. “We need to drop the B” or in a personal context “Oh I don’t use bisexual because it reinforces the binary.”

You know what never ever comes up after? How words like “gay” and “lesbian” are also reinforcing a gender binary. Nobody ever says “We need to change our name from “The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force to something more inclusive because gay and lesbian reinforce the gender binary” or “I don’t call myself a lesbian because it isn’t trans inclusive”

That is how I know this is just biphobia masquerading as “inclusive language”. Only bisexuals have to change, only our words are bad. Even though the bisexual community defines itself as “attraction to same/different genders or more than one gender” this binary, cis only men and women definition biphobia is constantly imposed from outside the community by cis people doing it in the name of people like me.

Aud Traher headshot

                 Aud Traher

If you feel the need to pick apart, ditch or otherwise get rid of the word bisexual you are harming transgender, genderqueer and non binary people who identify as bisexual. In the bisexual trans community this has become such a toxic poison that it causes people to become depressed, anxious or to self harm. Imagine being told that how you define yourself is harmful. That you are, like your label, bad and unworthy. I know seeing such arguments and statements have brought me back to a place of immense pain and internalized biphobia and transphobia. As a bisexual this is just another form of pain that I have to deal with. It hits the same open bleeding area that is from lesbian and gay biphobia–harmed self-righteously by those who should help us.

I’m never surprised that the same people who advocate for the elimination of bisexual and for ABB (Anything But Bi) terms to replace them in the name of trans inclusion rarely do actual work with the transgender and genderqueer/ non binary communities. The Transgender Violence Tracking Project was created by a bisexual transgender woman and is run and staffed by many bisexuals, including myself. I can nearly always count on support from the bi community as a trans person. The history of friendship between the Bi and Trans communities goes back decades, back past Stonewall even.

If you want to support trans people like me don’t erase me or speak over me or cause me harm out of self-righteous biphobia. Look into yourself and deal with that internalized biphobia and then help others get over theirs. Don’t advocate for the destruction of a community in the name of “saving” it.

And, especially don’t do it in my name.

Aud Traher is a gender non conforming transgender bisexual identified person who lives in Pennsylvania and prefers they, them, their personal pronouns. In 2013, Aud was honored to be an attendee at the LGBT Pride Month Reception at the White House. A prolific writer, Aud operates evenaud.wordpress.org and is currently working on a coming out book for bi teens and young adults while also interning at Quist, a mobile app that displays events from this day in LGBTQ history.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. September 30, 2014 4:57 pm

    Thank you so much for this. I cannot express my gratitude enough.

  2. September 30, 2014 6:37 pm

    Yes! All of this. Amazing, and thank you for speaking up!

  3. September 30, 2014 9:44 pm

    Testify!

  4. iamronni permalink
    September 30, 2014 11:15 pm

    I am trying to create a documentary about bisexual Invisibility/biphobia because I think a well made documentary could bring National attention to this issue. A documentary like Bridegroom. But I haven’t been able to find anyone willing to share their story for me to use to start writing it. Once I have a story it will be easier to get filmmakers and experts on board. Anyone interested? It’s our turn to get a voice. But we need visibility to be heard.

    • October 12, 2014 8:02 pm

      join binetusa facebook group. you will find plenty of us willing to talk.

  5. Psyche permalink
    October 1, 2014 6:32 am

    Other terms have their own problems. “Queer” is a lovely word, but it’s not specific to bisexuals. I’ve heard gay men, lesbians, even hetero kinky or poly people identify as “queer” and that’s fine because “queer” is an umbrella term. And while it can be argued that “bisexual” reinforces the concept of two genders, it can also be argued that “pansexual” reinforces the stereotype that bisexuals will fuck anybody, which is also highly problematic. I won’t correct anyone who uses the words queer or pansexual; but if someone identifes as “bi” that’s valid too.

  6. Alley fox permalink
    October 1, 2014 4:03 pm

    Really well written:) feel honoured to have shared this.

  7. tisfan permalink
    October 1, 2014 4:31 pm

    I am hearting you, quite a lot.

    I self-identify as Bi, but I don’t see how the trans person I love is not part of that. I don’t like the word pan sexual, even if I do harbor a great desire for pampered chef gadgets.

  8. October 1, 2014 7:03 pm

    This is such an important topic and an incredibly well-written piece. I’m so grateful to Aud for writing it and for The Task Force for publishing it. Yes, yes and yes!

  9. robynochs permalink
    October 2, 2014 5:20 pm

    Thank you, Aud. This is powerful. Your understanding of what bisexual means mirrors mine. I sincerely hope that we folks in the middle sexualities will come to support one another across all of our various and creative identities and complexities.

  10. Tony Smyles permalink
    October 13, 2014 3:13 pm

    As a newbi I also add my thanks for your piece. Very well written, with much understanding.
    Who would have expected the “tolerant” L/G community to inflict the same bigotry and ignorant bias to another group within the “LGBT” group? Thinking about the reaction of my boyfriend at the time, back in the 70’s, when I told him I was bi.. and his reaction was “bullshit”.

Trackbacks

  1. Bisexual Naming at National Black Justice Coalition Out on the Hill Conference | LGBT HealthLink, The Network for Health Equity

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