Today is Bi Visibility Day.
There has been a growing tendency for trans* and genderqueer activists to dis bisexuality as an identity that, they claim, reifies the binary in gender and sexuality. In simpler words, they think the “bi” in bisexuality reinforces people’s idea that there are only two genders and/or sexes, which is inherently oppressive and/or transphobic. The following linked post gives a decent breakdown of how these ideas came about, and offers a rebuttal, from Radical Bi, and does a much better job than I ever could. Please read it first if you feel like taking issue with this post: http://radicalbi.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/words-binary-and-biphobia-or-why-bi-is-binary-but-ftm-is-not/.
I have been an out bisexual for my whole adult life (and in my teens too), and spent a good number of years doing bi activism and grassroots, unfunded peer support work. I am also a feminist cis woman who will fight to my dying breath to include and support and stand up for trans* folk, genderqueer folk, sex workers, and those subject to racism, ableism, and all manner of other oppression and abuse, in everything I do.
I am 47 years old, and I have seen generation after generation of activists find new Really Good Reasons to make bisexual identity invalid and/or invisible. Yet I spent years supporting, validating and listening to all kinds of bisexuals (some life-long, some at a stopping point to and from other identities) who found it the right identity to express their sexuality, and who found the bi community a welcoming and supportive place.
I have been shouted down and shamed and ignored and tokenised by prominent and not-so-prominent gay and lesbian activists and organisations (*cough*Stonewall*cough*) enough times to burn me out several times over, and I have lived through the suicides and breakdowns of several fellow bisexuals. I will not be taking any shit from a new generation of queer activists.
I can say that of all the communities and groups I’ve ever been involved with, the bi community and its events have always been the most inclusive and self-reflective by a long long way. At Bi Glasgow and subsequent groups Bi Edinburgh and Bi Scotland, we used to work very closely with trans* community groups and there was a lot of cross-over in meetings and cons and other groups. Of course, no community or group is perfect on these counts and the above-linked post by Bi Radical teases some of this out with a bit more nuance.
I am now a bi-dyke as I have been in a same sex relationship for 7 years and will not step away from being lesbian-identified; I am in solidarity with lesbians and other women who love women; we bear a huge brunt of misogyny and homophobia – when I was young in the 80s, “bi-dyke” was a thing, we even had badges. I am not making any of this up (see the Bi Radical Tumblr for all kinds of radical bi stuff). I am also happy to identify as queer when it serves solidarity. But come at my bi comrades and I will be answering back!
And, ooh, look, Stavvers has done a post too :-)