The monosexual privilege checklist

This text also appears in my book Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution. If you like it, please consider buying a copy.

En Español: La lista del privilegio monosexual, and thanks to the people at La Radical Bi!

Before you continue: One huge clarification!

I was translating/editing the male privilege checklist (link in Hebrew) a couple of days ago, when it occurred to me that I have never seen a monosexual privilege checklist. Indeed, I’ve never heard the term spoken or referred to before. Despite the fact that many privilege lists exist for many groups, it appears that the idea that monosexuals enjoy privilege is relatively new as well as foreign to queer and bisexual political thought. More often than not, when the word “privilege” arises in relation to bisexuality or bisexual people, it is coupled with “heterosexual” and with the claim that bisexuals “enjoy heterosexual privilege” (here’s a helpful hint with that: we’re not, in fact, heterosexual). And so I thought it might be time to try to unpack some of these notions and compile a monosexual privilege checklist. The significance of such a list, as I see it, would be to highlight the way in which bisexuals experience oppression, seeing as this is a much-denied and much-erased topic. In fact, there are many things that monosexual people can take for granted in their lives and which bisexuals can’t. I hope this list would be of help to monosexual people in understanding their privileges and becoming better allies to bisexuals, as well as helping bisexuals understand our own (often transparent) oppression. I also hope this list could serve as a starting point for deeper discussion on biphobia as a system (rather than a series of personal mistreatments), within the bisexual movement and the queer movement in general.

A note on terminology:

I am aware of the problematics of using a binary structure such as monosexual/bisexual, however I allow myself to use it as a political and analytical tool in order to expose unequal power relations in a society which already operates under this binary. In addition, it is no less binary to speak about monosexual/bisexual than is it to speak about cisgender/transgender, male/female, white/black or straight/queer . The fact that only the bisexual movement finds itself facing the ubiquitous binary accusation (and so often) for making arguments so closely similar to those of other movements, is suspicious to say the least.

I use the term “bisexual” as an umbrella-word, including anyone attracted to people of more than one gender, who identifies as bisexual, pansexual, fluid, queer, heteroflexible, homoflexible, or any other bi-spectrum identity, and who considers themselves part of the bisexual movement/community.

I define “monosexual” as any person attracted to people of no more than one gender and who identifies as such (including heterosexuals, gays and lesbians).

I define “privilege” as something society awards some and withholds from others.

The obligatory disclaimer says:

By compiling a list of monosexual privilege, I do not mean to suggest that all monosexuals are the same, nor do I mean to suggest that they enjoy nothing but privilege. Power inequalities exist all over the social map, and monosexuals are just as likely as anyone to be on the bad end of one of them. Some of the points described are naturally ones shared by people of other marginalized groups – people experience similar forms of privilege or oppression through different identities, and the list isn’t meant to be strictly exclusive. And of course, this list would be more accurate the more privileges the person in question enjoys (and in particular: males, white people, heterosexuals, cisgenders, etc.). In addition, I do not mean to imply that all bisexuals are oppressed and enjoy no privileges – many bisexual people belong to other groups which do enjoy privilege. As in any field in life – stuff is complicated and multifaceted. We are all oppressors and we are all oppressed – and we must all deal both with our oppression and our privileges. Please take this as an opportunity.

This list includes some ideas that I picked up from the male privilege checklist, the white privilege checklist, the heterosexual privilege checklist and these two cisgender* privilege checklists. Read them.

Being able to write a list of privileges is not transparent for me: many privileges benefited me while writing it. I am a Jewish citizen of Israel (and thus have access to many civil rights and privileges denied from Palestinians); I am an English speaker; I am a university graduate; I have (had) access to academic and political writings about bisexuality and queer theory/politics; I have an internet connection, computer access and the technical skills required to operate a computer; though I am not able-bodied, I am able to use my hands for typing and my eyes for reading (albeit with the help of glasses). These are all privileges which I can think about that enabled me to write this post (there are probably alot more). As you read the list, please consider your own privileges in light of this paragraph and of the list itself.

This list is far from being exhaustive. I urge you to respond and add more – I will edit the list and add the relevant ones.

For commentators wanting to point out that people from other marginalized groups also suffer some of these attitudes, please see the disclaimer. In addition, I urge you to consider whether you would be likely to make this same comment on any of the other privilege lists. (If not, then you could ask yourself why, and are your reasons relevant in this case, too). Also, see: But this happens to me too!

Another edit: I am no longer approving comments in this vein. If you agree with me that people of different groups experience similar forms of oppression, why not think about ways to connect our shared struggles instead of using yours as an excuse to erase mine?

The monosexual privilege checklist

  1. Society assures me that my sexual identity is real and that people like me exist.
  2. When I disclose my sexual identity to others, they believe it without requiring me to prove it (usually by disclosing my sexual and romantic history).
  3. I can feel sure that, upon disclosing my sexual identity, people accept that it’s my real/actual sexual identity (rather than assuming that I am lying or simply wrong).
  4. I am never considered closeted when disclosing my sexual identity.
  5. I am considered to have more authority in defining and judging bisexuality than people who identify as bisexual.
  6. Perception/acceptance of my sexual identity is generally independent of my choices of relationships, partners, and lifestyles.
  7. It is unlikely that disclosing my sexual identity in a non-sexual context will be taken as a sign of sexual availability or consent.
  8. I can be confident that people will not rename my sexual identity or use different words to describe my identity than I do.
  9. When seen with a partner I’m dating, I can be certain I will be recognized as a member of my sexual-identity group by members of my community.
  10. I do not have to choose between either invisibility (“passing”) or being consistently “othered” and/or tokenized in my community based on my sexual identity.
  11. I am never blamed for upholding heteropatriarchy or cisgender privilege because of the word that I use to identify my sexuality.
  12. I feel welcomed at appropriate services or events that are segregated by sexual identity (for example, straight singles nights, gay community centers, or lesbian-only events).
  13. I can feel sure that if I choose to enter a monogamous relationship, my friends, community, or my partner will continue to accept my sexual identity, without expecting or pressuring me to change it.
  14. I do not need to worry about potential partners shifting instantly from amorous relations to disdain, humiliating treatment, verbal or sexual violence because of my sexual identity.
  15. I can choose to be in a polyamorous relationship without being accused of reinforcing stereotypes against my sexual-identity group.
  16. I can fairly easily find representations of people of my sexual-identity group and my lifestyle in the media and the arts. I encounter such representations without needing to look hard.
  17. If I encounter a fictional, historical or famous figure of my sexual identity, I can be reasonably sure that s/he will be named as such in the text or by the media, reviewers and audience.
  18. I often encounter the word I use to identify myself in the media and the arts. When I hear or read it, I am far less likely to find it in the context of the denial of its existence.
  19. I can find, fairly easily, reading material, institutions, media representations, etc. which give attention specifically to people of my sexual identity.
  20. I can feel certain that normal everyday language will include my sexual identity (“straight and gay alike,” “gay and lesbian,” etc.).
  21. If I am cisgender, I am far less likely to suffer from intimate and sexual violence.
  22. If I am cisgender, I am less likely to suffer from depression or to contemplate suicide.
  23. If I am cisgender, I am far less likely to suffer from poverty.
  24. I am more likely to feel comfortable being open about my sexual identity at work.
  25. I have access to information about the prevalence of STIs in my community as well as prevention methods that are suitable for me. (For example, searching online yields many, accurate and accessible results).
  26. Information about the prevalence of STIs in my community as well as prevention methods suitable for me, are unlikely to be subsumed under those of any other sexual-identity groups.
  27. If I live in a city, I am more likely find medical care that will suit my own particular needs.
  28. If I am cisgender, I am less likely to risk my health by avoiding medical treatment.
  29. I have the privilege of not being aware of my privileges.

Unconvinced? Try reading this.

* Cisgender means any person who identifies as the gender they were assigned at birth, i.e. non-transgender or genderqueer.
** Heteropatriarchy means heterosexual male rule.

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76 thoughts on “The monosexual privilege checklist

  1. I really like 6: “It is unlikely that disclosing my sexual identity will be taken as a sexual offer or a sign of sexual consent”

    I think that 9 (I never have to worry about successfully passing as a member of my sexual identity group or as a member of my community) could do with being prefaced in some way that indicates that this is only the experience of monosexual people who receive cisgender privilege?

    • Thanks. 6 is one of my favourites, too.

      As to 9… I think it’s tricky. I obviously only meant this in relation to sexual identity, not gender identity, as this is what the list is about. Comparison can get very sticky when it comes to bi and trans, and of course there’s alot of intersection for other groups with many of the points I mentioned. So I’d rather leave it as it is.

      • bidyke and I chatted about this, and she pointed out to me the disclaimer, “Naturally, this list would be more accurate the more privileges the person in question enjoys (and in particular: males, white people, heterosexuals, cisgenders, etc.)”, as well as the idea that each privilege is only prefaced by “If I am cis,” if and only if that privilege is only ever extended to cis monosexual people.

        I think I’m on-board with it now. :)

        • The list is still missing several “If I am cisgender” caveats. Yes, I read the disclaimer, but trans people also have these problems *specifically in contexts where they reveal their sexuality*, *exactly* as bisexual people do. (I’m both trans and bisexual, so I have no interest in denying monosexual privilege. And I would make these comments if there were similar issues with other privilege lists.)

          3, 7: trans and genderqueer peoples’ sexual orientation is quite often misconstrued to be relative to their assigned-at-birth sex.

          8: for trans people, this may be dependent on the extent to which they “pass”.

          13: prejudice against trans lesbians at lesbian-only events (because they are not perceived as “really” lesbians) is unfortunately commonplace.

          16: pressuring trans people to change their [monosexual] sexual orientation does still happen — sometimes even by medical gatekeepers.

          31, 33: these are also common for trans people (again, specifically associated with disclosing sexual identity).

  2. Thanks for taking this task on.
    In number 1, the word ensures should read, “assures.”
    I think gays and lesbians also experience #s 2 & 6. In the service of brevity, I’d remove the bi health related entries, such as poverty and suicide. Unless you know the stats (and I doubt monosexuals will), the entries will just be confusing.

    • Thanks for the comments.

      Regarding intersectionality, as I stated in my disclaimer (though I might edit and clarify), many of the phenomena on the list are experienced by people who are monosexual under different identities (such as gay or lesbian). This is typical of these lists (as evidenced by the fact that I “stole” many of the ideas from other privilege lists). People experience similar forms of oppression through different identities – the list is not meant to be entirely exclusive.

      As to the clauses concerning health, poverty etc. – I think they are some of the most important points on the list, emphasizing the systematic/structural nature of biphobia.

  3. when you talk about different binaries, you use man/woman, cisgender/transgender and then straight/queer. I think it should be straight/gay…(or heterosexual/homosexual). Queer stands in opposition not to “straight” to the idea of “normal” in the context of sexuality (and perhaps beyond), (David Halperin made this distinction in Saint Foucault if I recall). Beyond this: thanks for the interesting project. A few comments: “Society assures me that my sexual identity is real and that people like me exist.” – well, that is not actually true for gays who are often told that their sexual identity is not real but an “imitation” etc of the REAL thing being heterosexuality. Same is even more true of “I can feel sure that upon disclosing my sexual identity, people accept that it’s my real/actual sexual identity (rather than anything other than I said).” (Consider reactions like “it’s just a phase”, “you are doing this just to upset me”, “you just did not meet the right man/woman” etc). I would say gays can and are often also denied no 7, 12, 19 for sure, 23 only recently and many of us experienced periods where they were denied this privilege, 28 only recently and only for some people some places etc, same for 31. So while I find this very interesting often what you described is heterosexual rather than monosexual privilege…

    • Aeyal,

      I refer you to the disclaimer: “Some of the points described are naturally ones shared by people of other marginalized groups – people experience similar forms of privilege or oppression through different identities, and the list isn’t meant to be strictly exclusive.”

      Indeed gay men and lesbians experience similar things, in different ways. That is certainly not denied. However and in addition, bisexuals experience these things in other, different ways – ways that are particular to bisexuals and the experience of biphobia. For example, whereas a gay man might be told that he’s imitating the “real thing”, which *implies* that homosexuality doesn’t really exist, bisexuals often receive such direct comments as “no you’re not, there’s no such thing”. You’ll agree that those things are different and identity-particular.

      The point I was trying to make isn’t that gays and lesbians don’t experience these attitudes, but that bisexuals suffer attitudes such as these from all monosexual people, including gays and lesbians. This is what constitutes monosexual privilege.

      To emphasize my point: I took many of the points regarding community reception/rejection from the cisgender privilege list. Obviously, bisexuals and transgenders suffer many of the same attitudes in regards to our identities. However, that does not make the cisgender privilege checklist into a “cisgender monosexual privilege checklist”. To say so would mean erasing the uniqueness of transphobia and cissexism as its own phenomenon. And it would be likewise erasing of biphobia and monosexism to claim my list as one of straight privilege.

      As to “queer”, you’re familiar with my reservations about the word… And either case, I much more often encounter the straight/queer version these days than the straight/gay one…

  4. Since your list is of monoxexual privilege and not of bisexual discrimination I don’t think your disclaimer helps in this regard. Your point is that monosexuals are privileged in that they don’t experience those things, whereas my point is that actually many of those things are also typical of the way gays and lesbians are treated, including btw “no you’re not, there’s no such thing”. A list of privileges would imply things that by virtue of that “status” you benefit, and again, I think g&l are denied many of these very things regularly. (If this was a list of how bisexuals are discriminated you could have indeed say this does not deny that similar discriminations are expereinced by others, but once you put is as privelges I argue SOME of this are heterosexual rather than monosexual ones).
    You can read in Sedgwick’s Epistemolgy of the Closet when she compares coming out as gay with Esther’s coming out as Jewish a very good account of this denial. As to queer, you yourself used it twice in two different meanings in this very post, when you contrasted it to straight, but also aligned it with bisexual, pansexual etc. I agree that today it’s often used as contrast to straight, but that’s exactly losing/giving up on the critical potential of queer, and I am going to continue resisting this…

    • Aeyal,

      As much as I like debating you, I’m going to put this one on hold. Please refer to the last clause on the list and re-read in light of it. If you want to be an ally to bisexuals (which I believe you do), please try to think about those things.

  5. You know that I do (think of these things) and also of being aware.not-aware of privileges…

    Pointing to the fact that some of the privileges you listed are IMHO (and experience) not actually enjoyed by most gays [and I am not even going now to address my complex relationship with the gay identity because that's not the issue] – , does not undermine this; not does it undermine the need to fight bi-erasure,biphobia and to address monosexual privileges…

  6. I am concerned about us making this list as bisexuals. I know the Invisible Knapsack of White Privilege was far more powerful because it was written by a white woman. I’m skeptical about some of the entries on this list, but as a bisexual I really don’t know.

    • I agree that it would have been a lot more awesome/powerful and probably more accurate if this was written by a monosexual person. However, similar to the cisgender privilege checklists, which were written by transpeople – it seems to me that if we had to wait for a member of the privileged group to write a list themselves, we would have had to wait maybe 20 more years…

  7. I am a lesbian woman, and I agree, there are a few of these that I do not enjoy. They are: 1-3, 6, 7, 20, 21, 30. I would call them straight privilege.

    However, that still leaves many important privileges that I do enjoy and the impact of privilege lies not in quantity but in quality… It’s sort of like different groups are competing to see who can come up with the longest list. And that misses the point. 25-31 I was not aware of but am assuming there’s reliable data behind it. Interesting.

    Dorothy on July 29, 2011 at 9:00 am said:

    Oh and nr 9 I do not ejoy, since i am a feminine woman(though I experience it less than a bisexual woman for sure). Nor nr 30.

    However that still leaves a lot of privileges, so i want to be clear that I am not denying that i have monosexual privilege.

    Dorothy on July 29, 2011 at 9:04 am said:
    About 29: isn’t that a WSW issue?

    Just curious here, id be really grateful if someone took the time to explain.

    • Thanks for the comment.

      I think that in many cases, the differences are ones of measure and context. When speaking to straight people, we all suffer 1-3 (and 7) to a certain extent. However, when speaking to gay men and lesbians, bisexuals are rarely immediately believed while gay men and lesbians obviously are believed by each other. So gays and lesbians certainly suffer from these behaviours, but not to the same extent as bisexuals, and in fewer contexts.

      Regarding 6, I intentionally phrased it the way I did to separate it from the kind of sexual harassment experienced by lesbians. To include lesbians, I’d change “sexual offer or a sign of sexual consent” into “an invitation for sexual harassment”. I agree that there’s a lot of intersection, however I think that sexual harassment of lesbians often originates from a straight-male presumption that all lesbians are in fact bisexual, and that all bisexuals are available to all men. This is biphobia and lesbophobia combined.

      Regarding 9 – I agree that biphobia and femme-phobia are very very closely related. In fact, I think that often femme-phobia is related to the presumption that all femmes are actually bisexual, and all bisexuals are actually straight.

      Regarding 20 and 21, I’ll reply with an anecdote: I’ve seen my first explicitly lesbian film when I was 16. However, I have watched my first explicitly bisexual show (online series, not even a movie) when I was 27. To broaden the perspective: there is a large and growing gay and lesbian film industry, however no such cultural presence exists for bisexuals. Gay and lesbian characters and representations are indeed hard to find in mainstream culture, but bisexual ones are far rarer. In addition, when a bisexual character is represented, it is more often than not named as gay or lesbian. I haven’t seen this happen with gay and lesbian characters.

      29 is definitely also an issue with WSW, however I’ve had the chance to find much more safer sex material aimed at lesbians than at bisexuals. In fact, I’ve never seen any comprehensive booklet or website focusing on safer sex for bisexuals, whereas I’ve encountered many aimed at gays or lesbians.

      In 30 I meant to imply that gay and lesbian people can find appropriate care in gay clinics, whereas bisexuals (and transgenders) can’t. But perhaps it wasn’t clear enough.

      As to 25-31, the information is taken from the Bisexual Invisibility Report, you’re invited to read :)
      http://www.sf-hrc.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=989

  8. First of all, this is great. I think an effort like this can really help.

    I would add:
    “I am less likely to be urged to choose a specific lifestyle that conflicts with my identity in order to make other people more comfortable”
    “I am less likely to be automatically feared or rejected as a romantic partner because of my identity”

  9. Hi there

    I think this is a great contribution. I admire your ability to self-disclose areas of your own privilege and the objectivity involved in that. I also think the idea of translating other privilege lists across shows a great big-picture approach.

    I am someone who is attracted to more than one sex/gender and identitfies as a trans woman so I have sadly seen this privilege in play too often (I also believe times are a-changin).

    Thanks again, keep up the good work.

  10. This list needs some heavy editing but it definitely heads in the right direction.

    Bisexuals aren’t just queer because of their attraction to their own gender. We are queer because having a gender-boundary-less and/or fluid sexuality is threatening to people who don’t/don’t want to understand it.

    That said, I think your understanding of monosexism has to be tempered by the fact that LG monosexism is BOTH a continuance of learned, heteronormative values and sexphobia AND a reaction to homosexual oppression. They seek security and certainty in the face of their oppression and, erroneously, attack bisexual/pansexual/queer/fluid people because we signify uncertainty, instability and impermanence to them. This isn’t a justification for their attacks or perpetual ignorance of us, just an analysis that doesn’t neglect the strain they are under to make their own selves “real” to the mainstream. As others have noted above, they, too are under homophobic pressures that project them as “not real.”

    It’s the mistaken projection of some lesbians and gay men that they have to reject our experience, reality and identity in order to feel more secure, more powerful and more in control about being gay/lesbian. Needless to say, there’s also the question of “innocence.” I’m an “innocent” queer if I don’t have a “choice” about being queer; I’m “perverse” and “immoral” if I do have a “choice.” This is what makes Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” so popular among so many LGBTQ, regardless of its inherent homophobia and sexphobia.

    For our part, equating LG monosexism and straight monosexism as if they were the same thing is mistaken.

  11. I love this list, thank you. I’m so glad you’re posting again–I had your blog bookmarked but I hadn’t seen anything in a few months.

    Do you mind expanding on the increased risk of intimate violence? I was aware of the risks of poverty/depression but I wasn’t aware we were more likely to be abused in an intimate relationship.

    • Thanks :) It’s true that I don’t post with very high frequency, but I do try to compensate for that with the content of my posts ;) I don’t expect to be posting frequently again, though, as I’m actually about to start writing a book about bisexuality :) I’ll probably keep posting infrequently.

      As to intimate violence – to be fair, the data I’ve found concerns only women. The Bi Invisibility Report states that: “Bisexual women in relationships with monosexual partners have an increased rate of domestic violence compared to women in other demographic categories” – that means more than lesbians in relationships with other lesbians. So my extension of this data to men is really just an educated guess. It goes:
      A. If bisexual women are more likely to suffer from intimate violence, even in relationships with other women; and
      B. If intimate violence is more likely to happen between male partners than between female partners in same-gender relationships; then
      C. Bisexual men in same-gender relationships are probably more likely to suffer from intimate violence.

      Naturally, on the part of bisexual men, this doesn’t extent to mixed-gender relationships.

      Sometimes, considering bisexual erasure and lack of research/information – educated guesses is all we have…

  12. This is a really good list =] I’m not here to complain or correct you, I just thought I would give you some extra vocab: you mentioned that you use bisexual (in this context) to mean all non-monosexualities, and I thought you might like to know of the word multisexual, coined to prevent confusion between the two definitions here; they is a non-gendered pronoun, and better than saying s/he as not all people are shes or hes.
    Thank you for making this list!

    • Thanks for the comment ^_^

      Regarding inclusiveness – I prefer “bisexual” to any other term. Beyond the fact that “multisexual” can be interpreted as “people of all sexualities”, I find the word “bisexual” itself perfectly sufficient, in that I don’t think it lacks any component or promotes misunderstanding/confusion. As “bisexual” means attraction to people of more than one gender, it’s certainly the most inclusive term I’m currently aware of.

      Regarding “they” – I prefer gendered language to gender-neutral. Unless used in very specific ways and contexts (i.e. specifically genderqueer, such as referring to someone as “they” to someone else who’s “learned the language”), gender-neutral language fails to challenge constructed gender biases. That is to say: using gender-neutral language will generally make people think about a man. In contrast, I prefer to insert a marker of femininity – and women – into the language I use, as a way of emphasizing (and ensuring) the presence of the often-absent feminine-spectrum people both in language and in the reader’s mind.

      Topi at Whores, Teargas, Flowers explains part of this here: http://nasturtiumsoftheworld.wordpress.com/i-am-a-boy/ (paragraph begins with the words: “one day i meet an amazing woman”, but really the entire text is very recommended).

  13. Hi again!

    You write that you aren’t accepting comments to this post anymore but since I see that you’ve published some posts anyway I’ll give it a try.. First of all I think it’s important that people who the lists of privileges refer to are able to dispute them without ending up in the rat wheel of proving how ignorant and privileged they really are. Monosexuals should be allowed to refute these statemes just as maybe you’ll agree, bisexuals should be allowed to dispute the straight privilege often attributed to them by gays and lesbians.

    I agree with what someone wrote about why Mcintoshe’s list was so powerful. I don’t know why but her list really struck a chord in a way that other lists have not: I felt angry, powerless, uncomfortable. I understand that this might have something to do with me and nothing with the lists. Still I wonder what is meant to be constructive about groups writing these lists about privileges that they don’t enjoy? I think they’re therapeutic for the people the list doesn’t refer to (in that “ha! The next time my friend says Opressive Statement X I will send him a link to this, because who cares who wrote it because it’s in bullet form so surely she will see the light”.) but other than that, why? When I read the male or straight privilege list, my reality feels validated (and I feel some of that “ha!” I was talking about) and that is important of course but is it the purpose? It’s a catch 22: the males I know who would read the list with humility and afterthought are not the ones I need to be showing the list to in the first place.

    Next, you make some statements in your post about gays and lesbians that I need to correct:
    ” To include lesbians, I’d change “sexual offer or a sign of sexual consent” into “an invitation for sexual harassment”. I agree that there’s a lot of intersection, however I think that sexual harassment of lesbians often originates from a straight-male presumption that all lesbians are in fact bisexual, and that all bisexuals are available to all men.”

    This isn’t true in my case. It is taken as a sign of sexual consent, not an invitation to sexual harassment unless you define all men trying to sleep with lesbian women as harassment by default because we cannot be interested. I have no idea if these men think I am bisexual or not, actually my guess is that they think I am straight and am merely trying to turn them on.

    “However, when speaking to gay men and lesbians, bisexuals are rarely immediately believed while gay men and lesbians obviously are believed by each other. So gays and lesbians certainly suffer from these behaviours, but not to the same extent as bisexuals, and in fewer contexts.”

    Is it possible that bisexuals are also believed by each other and that gays and lesbians are sometimes not believed by bisexuals? Is what you mean that bisexuals constitute a smaller minority?

    It’s interesting that bisexual women are more likely to suffer abuse in relationships with other women than lesbians. To me, the report didn’t demonstrate this fact clearly enough but I need to read it more thoroughly. I wonder about the “reasons”(ie, there are never rational reasons for someone to abuse someone in a relationship, but I’m curious as to what provides the increased risk).

    I’m also wondering about there not being safe-sex material aimed specifically at bisexual women…what are some of the specific issues and health risks that WSMW suffer from? Safer sex practices for opposite-sex relationships are quite easily available aren’t they? Again, if anybody would be up to explaining this or posting a link to somehere that does, I’d be very grateful! If not I’ll go hunting myself but if I got it from you, I would trust the material to be accurate and do justice to the real life experience of bisexual people.

    Nr 30 was clear, it’s just that I didn’t know there was such a thing as gay and lesbian health clinics. I googled it and in my city and country, there are five or six clinics with “LGBT-competence” or “aimed at homo- and bisexual men/women”.

    Regarding 20 and 21, when I think about it: yes! And what you wrote about bisexual characters (ie characters who are attracted to people of all genders) being named as gay or lesbian, it’s something I’ve thought about. It bothers the crap out of me too! And WHERE on earth are the bisexual male characters?

    Anyway, I’m glad to have found your blog and will stay tuned! Cheers!

  14. Great list! As a male bisexual I have dated very fluidly in my twenties then was in a few long term opposite sex relationships. But then I chose to not date at all and sort out my codependcy issues. During the period of not dating I got so much weird harrassment from gays and lesbians that I am now commited to doing what I can do get bisexuals accepted. In grad school a lesbian came into my place of employment and demanded I “come out as gay” and then for two years I heard say “which is it” repeatedly, a gay student did similar taunting, a gay teacher asking my orientation replied “Oh your one of those”. Another gay teacher wanted me to come out as gay. And the head of the depart (Lesbian) responded to my bi identity by saying “we really don’t need labels” but she has one, and the gay and straight students had one. And then a year later a gay director told me it was impossible for me to be bisexual in his words “I was straight and fucking around” or “gay and in the closet”. I can go on and on and on. Since then my dating has been a bit weird to as I realized via online dating that straight women want touch me, most gay men have hang ups, and that has left only a few dates (obviously Woody Allen was wrong). I dated a Straight women for a year who was paranoid if I stood next to a man we broke up – she did make an effort to understand. Then a gay man very sweet and supportive but also thought I had “heteropriveledge” yes I do come across as very straight so he is right but the moment I say who I am that priveledge disappears quickly (we are still friends). Finally I dated and am still dating a woman who has been as fluid in her dating as I have been. Yeah!!! But what the hell is up? Why do I get worse treatment in the gay community than the straight community? What’s up? And why do academic papers say male bisexuality is less fluid than female bisexuality. And why did I not exist up til a few days ago?

    • It’s validating how we as bisexuals have these shared experiences, even if it’s still kind of breathtaking people in the positions you’ve described feel at liberty to make those comments.

      I’ve always felt like I receive worse treatment in the LGLG community than I do in the straight one, but I’ve known even sympathetic gays to get upset that I would think I was more likely to be gay-bashed by a gay person.

      Now I know better. I am unlikely to be gay-bashed by a straight, but I’m rather likely to experience intimate relationship violence. Between that, and the much greater social stigma, I think we’re perfectly justified saying we get worse treatment in the gay community.

      • Thanks for the comment, but I’m afraid I’ll have to disagree. I think bisexuals indeed experience more (personalized) negative response from the GGGG community (note that lesbians are also marginalized), but the overwhelming majority of erasure, pathologization, denial and silencing comes from the straight population and culture. Think of it this way: if bisexuality was accepted by the straight population, then bisexuals wouldn’t at all have need of joining LGBT communities. Seeing as we’re not even close, we seek out those communities as refuge – and subsequently experience rejection and end up heartbroken. But the reason that inner-LGBT biphobia feels more painful to us than straight biphobia isn’t that it’s more common or really worse, it’s simply because it’s more personal, coming from where we least expect it, from where we came seeking support.

        • Somehow I never saw this comment when I was rereading the thread.

          I know lesbians are also marginalized, but I also feel at least they have the #2 position at the table–and lesbians are, in my experience, a hell of a lot more centered than bisexuals (think of how many “gay and lesbian” organizations you can name, or how often people use exactly that phrasing). I don’t disagree that gays are the most centered, but I feel like there’s an awful lot of space for cis monosexuals in the LGBT community period, and not a lot for those of us who fall outside the cis and/or monosexual realities.

          I kind of go back and forth on what you’re saying–didn’t the Bisexuality Invisibility report state that bisexuals (at least bisexual women) are more likely to experience intimate violence at the hands of monosexual partners? Given statistics say women are anything from just as likely to MORE likely to experience violence from a female partner than a male partner, at least as much of that increased violence has to be coming from women–in other words, within the queer community.

          I agree that what you said is probably the reason that inner-community biphobia feels more painful because it’s more personal (at least, for me), but even if the straight community initiated this whole mess, is it possible the GGGG community is even more erasing?

          • Considering how many GL people will insist someone in history was GL when they were behaviorally bisexual and had romantic attachments with members of more than one gender, yes, we are erased heavily by such people. It’s like the old joke about the drunk at the village bar complaining about how he built the town’s only bridge, but they didn’t call him Otto the Bridge-Builder, “but you fuck one goat…” And since that pattern also exists with heterosexuals, it’s pure monosexual privilege, I don’t care which monosexual orientation’s responsible.

        • I am thinking about this issue a lot. I remember at 19 I had a crush on a non-cis gendered man. He was beautiful long hair, Indian, wore very feminine gothic clothing that he designed. He was also bisexual. But more easily pegged as “gay” being a very feme guy. I was not I am an x-football player masculine bodied male. I asked if he wanted to date me but unfortunately no. I was not “out” at my school and the next person I met was a masculine woman we did get involved, I did not know she was bisexual. We came out to each other and then the school, we were both ridiculed for it. But being I was a man and she was a woman it was eventually accepted that we were “bisexual”. If the guy was my partner I would have been catagorized as “gay”. In many ways my orientation is gendered and goes way beyond gender. And the catagories never fit. But the bizarre dismissal of “bisexual” much less “fluid” or pan or whatever can not be even comprehended by either gay or straight culture. The only way for liberation is creating bi/pan/fluid communities that have a vision for gender variance and inclusivity. There are many exclusively monosexual gay men and women who echo a nearly 40 year old prejudice of “bisexuals don’t exist”. The meme was a political creation to get gay people to stop conforming to hetero normative behavior such as getting married to opposite gendered people. But the bi people lost big time on that political move. I do feel something very different is emerging but because it is very difficult to catagorize it becomes politically blurry.

      • I am not sure it can be so generalized. I have often found it more comfortable to be in “straight” culture in the art world because they are not so “straight”. In fact my best friend is “straight” but finally after many years he has told me of a brief same sex experience and his girlfriend had a sexual relationship with my girlfriend. But both are “straight”. In otherwords many “straight” people are open to my fluid sexuality because they are indeed bisexually orientated even if they are straight. But in the “gay” community bisexual men and women confide in me their opposite sex experiences but they can not at all talk about it to their friends. I have aligned myself more with “straight bicurious” people because I have been pulled romantically more towards women than men. And in the few significant same sex relationships I have had the issue of re-identifying always comes up (accept with one guy and as a result we lasted a lot longer). I rarely hangout with gay men because I have found it difficult to navigate the biphobia in the gay community.

  15. Pingback: Monosexual privilege checklist « biUK

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  18. Hi.

    I’m bi-identified and I’ve thought about this a lot over the past few years–the ways in which people who fit into binaries (not just the straight/gay kind) do or don’t have social privilege. I sent a Facebook message to a friend of mine several months ago, an awesome ally to the LGBTQ community who also happens to be biracial (so he too is outside of binaries). He suggested that those of us “in the middle”, while not afforded what I’d call “full” privilege, do have *some* measure of privilege by virtue of being in the middle.

    After talking with him, I agreed, although I’d argue that because race and sexual orientation are different, non-monosexuals’ glimmer of privilege relies on 1) whether or not we have a partner, 2) the actual and perceived gender identity of that partner, and 3) the actual and perceived gender identity of the person in question. The privilege, I’d argue, does NOT come inherently from being bisexual. Of course, I’m sure you’d probably argue, “Well if the privilege isn’t in non-monosexuality inherently, then non-monosexuals don’t have privilege.” But I’d argue that our orientations afford us the *possibility* of benefitting from privilege, going back to those three points. And of course, as my friend argued, it isn’t FULL privilege, so of course it won’t operate in the same manner.

    That being said though, upon reading this, it is nice to have some of my original ideas/questions, which I posed to that friend, validated in some concrete way. And so, my ultimate larger argument would be, as I believe you stated as part of your disclaimers, it’s a complex issue.

    • Thanks for the comment.

      I think that what is usually considered as “bisexual access to privilege” is in fact passing privilege, which is available to all other LGBTQ groups just as well. In addition, what id often thought of by many people as “privilege” also includes a significant component of oppression, that being erasure. A few days ago I made a new post about the Bisexual Invisibility report. I think that one thing that stands out very clearly from the data therein, is that bisexuals experience oppression in ways that are much deeper than any perceived passing privilege. I would say that even if we did have partial access to such privileges, the privileges gained are only superficial and at any event are marginal when compared to experiences of oppression.

  19. Pingback: La lista del privilegio monosexual | La Radical Bi – Políticas Queers

  20. Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that we have seriously enjoyed reading your weblog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your posts and I hope you post again soon.

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  35. Hi there!

    Thank you for this. I’m late to the party, but it was a lovely find and I look forward to reading more of your blog.

  36. 37. It is not assumed that I’m capable of hiding my sexual attraction for any gender; It is not assumed I can “pass.” -AW

    • Interesting observation.

      I do agree that bisexual=passing is a very frequent equation, and what you say is obviously true in comparison with straight people (who are not even considered as incapable, but have no need to). But I think the difference between bis and gays/lesbians here is mainly the degree of passing possible rather than the possibility itself.

  37. Pingback: What my book is about | Bi radical

  38. I can promise you that number 9 is NOT true in all too many situations for traditionally feminine presenting lesbians. I suspect number 19 is often not true for many gay men …I also agree with other comments, noting that many of these don’t apply to trans people….

    • Yeah, I’ve actually removed no. 9 from the updated version (the one to appear in my book). I should probably edit it here as well.

      As for the other things, I have explained them at length both at the beginning of the post and in the responses. It’s getting a bit tedious. Please read everything else, and if you have anything else to ask me afterwards, please go ahead.

  39. Pingback: The Monosexual Privilege Checklist | The Novice: in London

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  41. Basically non of these apply to lesbians and the inverse of many of them applies to femme lesbians in particular. In fact, not many of these even apply to cis gay men. The whole list seems to have been written from the point of view that society is post-homophobic and post-lesbophobic. Which it is not.

    • This is a bit tiring. You obviously haven’t read either the disclaimer or the clarification at the beginning of this post. Nor the discussion in the comments. Or the discussion on Bi Tumblr. Please, save yourself and me some pain and do your homework before you go trolling my blog with baseless accusations.

      SRSLY.

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