Words, binary and biphobia, or: why “bi” is binary but “FTM” is not

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

Before I write – a disclaimer: this post contains criticism of the non-bisexual-identified transgender community and discourse. Please be aware that I am writing this criticism not as an outsider, but as a genderqueer person involved in transgender community, and activism. I hope this criticism is taken in the same spirit in which it was written – that of passion and solidarity.

This is a long post. But trust me, it is good. Take your time in reading in, it will be worth it ;)


A(n) (long) introduction

It appears increasingly acceptable of late, in transgender/genderqueer communities and activist discourses, to portray bisexuality as a binary identity, and thus intrinsically transphobic. As the claim classically goes – since the word “bisexuality” has “bi” (literally: two) in it, then it is inherently gender-binary, pointing to only two genders/sexes as its sources of reference – thus erasing non-binary sexes and genders out of existence. Those siding with this approach usually suggest the use of alternative identity categories, such as “pansexual”, “omnisexual”, “queer”, etc. (For the sake of fairness, I need to mention that I, too, once subscribed to these views, to the extent that they are now and forever recorded in a book and unchangeable. But – hey, we all make mistakes…)

On the other hand is the bisexual side of the debate, arguing to the contrary. I will say that I find these arguments to be nothing but a pile of apologetics, and so I’m going to be relatively brief with it, as they only matter to me here as background to the real core of the discussion: Continue reading

The myth of myth-busting: normalcy discourse and bisexual politics

(Why criticize?)

I have a 20 minute lecture talking about this. Want to see? :)

In a recent blog post, a certain bi blogger dedicated a paragraph to what she referred to as the “obligatory myth-busting post that pretty much every blog on bisexuality provides”. And indeed, it seems near-impossible to encounter any English-language text about bisexuality without seeing these same myths countered in this same way. I thought I would take this opportunity to explore what this myth-busting and these myths mean, politically, and for us as a community.

Quoth the post:

  • Existence. Yes – we do.
  • Monogamy. Yes – we can.
  • Fidelity. Yes – we can. And – we do.
  • HIV & AIDS. No – it’s not all our fault.
  • Confusion. No – we’re really not.
  • Indecision. No – that’s not what fluidity means.
  • Greed. Yes, we can have just one piece of cake.
  • Pants. Yes – we’re as capable as anyone else of keeping our various bits in them.
  • Choice. No – we cannot choose to be straight; we cannot choose to be gay; we did not choose our sexual orientation in some thoughtlessly frivolous moment of rapacious abandon. Who does?

Let’s walk through some of those, shall we? No, we’re not promiscuous. No, we don’t sleep around. No, we’re not infectious. No, we don’t choose to be the way we are (SRSLY, why would anyone choose that?). Yes, we’re normal. No, we don’t threaten your sexual identification. Yes, we are just like you. No, you are not in danger of being like us. No, we don’t threaten your beliefs, your society or your safety. Continue reading

A bisexual manifesto

I found this text in Getting Bi almost two years ago. I liked it immediately, as any feminist might – it spoke my language. In Israel, this feminist manifesto is famous for having been translated with slight alterations to fit Israeli culture (for example, a reference to militarism). The local transgender community also wrote a similar text two years back, which brought it even closer to my heart. And so, when seeing this in Getting Bi, I automatically wanted to translate it.

However, the text was a bit too liberal for my liking (government/rights focused, gender-binary and monogamous) – and so I translated it with a few changes and additions.

Anyway, I figured now that I have a blog, it might be a good time to translate it back into English.

The Hebrew version may be found here, in the form of a flier.

**FEEL FREE TO USE THIS TEXT FOR ANY PURPOSE. NO RIGHTS RESERVED, though I would appreciate credit, where applicable :)**

BECAUSE we are not real AND our orientation is only a phase AND we’ll just leave for a member of another sex any day AND our way of loving is only a sign of confusion AND when we haven’t changed in 5 or 10 or 20 or 50 years we are still just confused AND when we’re in a different-sex relationship then we are holding onto “straight privilege” AND when we’re in a same-sex relationship then we’ve finally “come all the way out” AND when we’re in a different-sex relationship we’re really just straight AND when we’re in a same-sex relationship then we’re really gay or lesbian AND when we dare suggesting that we have our own identity we are traitors of the community AND if we identify as bisexual we think there are only two genders AND when we identify as pansexual then we’re simply hipsters AND when we don’t self-define then we’re invisible AND because every historical figure or celebrity who has ever had a same-sex relationship was really gay or lesbian no matter how they may have felt about other genders AND we’re told we can’t make up our minds AND that we’re just attention seekers AND when we’re monogamous then we’re not really bisexual AND when we’re polyamorous then we’re reinforcing stereotypes AND because we want to fuck anything that moves AND because it’s okay to sexually harass us and we’re not allowed to choose or refuse or reject it AND because it’s okay to ask us invasive questions about our sex lives AND because every fuck up about our relationships is attributed to our bisexuality AND because we see personal ads that say “no bisexuals” AND for lots and lots of other reasons, WE ARE PART OF THE BISEXUAL LIBERATION MOVEMENT

Love, rage and the occupation – my talk from London BiCon

First, an apology: I really sincerely was intending to embed this video into my post so as to save my readers the hassel of a seperate site. But alas, try as I might, I could not convince WordPress to do my bidding.

And so, I provide you with the link to the talk I gave in September at the International BiCon in London:

http://makore.6tzvaim.com/node/524

Summary:

Love, rage and the occupation: bisexual politics in Israel/Palestine

The Israeli occupation of Palestine has had a deep influence over both external and internal LGBTQ and bisexual/pansexual politics. What is the connection between the occupation and inner LGBTQ violence? How does that connect to last year’s Bar-No’ar shooting? How are all of these events related to bisexual erasure? And what does the Israeli bisexual community think about all this?

(For more topics mentioned in the talk, check out the tags).

Video length: 69 mins. Language: English, no subtitles :(

Please feel free to ask me any questions or to make any comments.

P.S.

Also worth checking out: Lilach Ben-David’s talk about queer resistance to the occupation.

How does it get better? Empowering youth and our bisexual community

(Why criticize?)

About a week ago, director Kyle Schickner, in cooperation with the American Institute of Bisexuality (AIB) released a new video under Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” campaign. The video, I must admit, was deeply touching for me. As a bisexual person who feels the effects of biphobia, erasure and isolation every day, and as someone who spent many years of her life suffering from depression – this video struck a very deep chord in me. Undoubtedly, this video, and the activist work done by Schickner and by AIB is highly important, and I deeply appreciate it.

However, I would like to raise some doubts regarding the campaign, its viewpoints, and our response to it as a bisexual movement. Before I do, I need to say that I am making this criticism with the deepest respect and appreciation for the people involved as well as their work. However, I believe that in order to grow and develop as a movement, this kind of criticism is important and vital. Continue reading