Unlearning Internalised Biphobia and Shame.

I started writing poems in letter form to my ex. After our relationship ended almost three years ago, I realised how emotionally abusive it was. One of the things he told me as we dated was that I couldn’t identify as bisexual because I am attracted to anyone, regardless of their gender, and I chose not to say anything. We’d only been dating for a month, and by this point, my second tumour came back. So I didn’t want to have a label war. To be quite honest, I didn’t have the energy for it.

I was spending most of my time in my bed in chronic pain, or at the doctors, or driving around North Carolina trying to find hormone doctors. So I started saying I was pansexual again. I’m not here to tell anyone how to identify. This was the same ex I tried to tell that I thought I was non-binary. I feel comfortable as a boy, not as a man, and sometimes I use the pronouns they/them/their.  I’m fluid in my expressions, but I never feel female. A month after this, I found out I was born intersex, so my identity is now super important. This ex basically shot me down any time I tried to say I wasn’t 100% male. I think part of this was the fact that I started transitioning ten days after I had the final part of my hysterectomy. Before that, he was more masculine than I was. Then I started T and because I have no reproductive organs, I started changing a lot faster than anyone expected. My voice dropped after two weeks. I started growing a beard after a month. My body started rapidly changing.

He was fighting so hard for his manhood, and here I was, on hormones, and trying to say that I didn’t feel 100% male.

We were also dating in North Carolina. So we never held hands in public or made it known that we were a couple, unless we were with other queer friends, and that was rare. But I got so angry because here was this queer and trans person telling me how to identify.

I try not to think about this ex. I haven’t dated anyone since him. I’ve been in therapy unlearning all of these things, and dealing with the emotional abuse that was our relationship, trying to notice it, and deal with it, and move on. Part of that has been writing poems to him about all the things I wanted to say. Part of that process has been to proudly claim my bisexual label.

If I am even thinking about dating someone now and they try to tell me to say I’m pan, I won’t date that person. I remember when I was 21 and came out as trans for the first time, and I knew that I was primarily more attracted to people that have been assigned female at birth, and I knew that I was still considered female, and I thought, well, I’m not usually attracted to cis men, so I can’t be bi. I don’t want to be bi. So I said I wouldn’t date bi people and I would just be a lesbian that’s a boy. Shame. Right there. There’s so much stigma. I was already feeling pretty crappy for being trans and the last thing I wanted was to have the other most marginalised identity in the queer community as a part of me.

I look back on that moment and cringe.

I look back on the moment that I told my ex I was pan, then, and I cringe.

However, I notice all the biphobia on the internet, and from well meaning queer people that aren’t bi, that are my friends, that say, well, I wouldn’t date a bi person. And I tell myself the same thing that I told myself for the first two years after coming out as Blake: You have to unlearn all the prison speak. You have to unlearn that you are really a female. It is not your fault that someone told you how to identify, and you didn’t want to fight, and you didn’t want to deal with it. And I know that the gender issue was a pretty big issue, and you were sick, and scared, and it’s okay. You can let go of that. Forgive yourself. No one is perfect. We all have things we regret. We all have things to unlearn.

I am fiercely bi now. I refuse to let anyone give me an identity that is not mine. Today I even bought a bi pride patch, and my sister is going to sew it onto a jacket for me. I am going to knit myself a bi pride flag hat. It’s taken me a long time to get to this point. As I finished this school year, a friend in the queer community on campus told me that I am such a great trans activist, and as I was in the bi spaces at queer conferences, I knew, and I knew after my friend told me that I’m a great trans activist, that I need to do more to be a better bi activist.

I don’t want anyone to learn the shame that I have. But if they have, I want us to let go of it. Don’t carry it with you.

Unlearning things is a process. It is scary as hell sometimes. It feels exhausting. Surround yourself with other bi people. Reach out to a bi group on the internet if you don’t have one where you live. Maybe even start a bi group where you live, because bisexuals are everywhere. Seriously, we make up half the community. And finally, if I could tell you one more thing, it’s that you are okay. You are beautiful and incredible and you can live such a great life, and do it being extremely proud of the person you are, and the people you love, regardless of their genders. There’s no one way to be bi. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

I believe in you. You exist. I see you.


Bisexuality and Pansexuality.

Because I suck at titles, I’m just going to go with that one.

I came out as bi at 14 in the middle of a family dinner.  I shouldn’t have come out that way, but I did.  We were eating dinner, and I was a freshman in high school, and I just had this secret I had been living with.  I wore the pride rainbow wristband I got at Twin Cities Pride that summer.  My gay uncle took me.  He asked me if I was an ally.  I said, everyone should be an ally.  But I hadn’t been able to say that I liked girls, and I liked boys.  This was before I knew anything about the trans* community.  This was September of 2005, and we didn’t really talk about queer issues in my house.  I didn’t see Boys Don’t Cry, my first glimpse of the transgender life, or know that it applied to me, that I was trans*, until a year later.  And when I did know, I was terrified.  But I think I’ve covered that enough, and today I don’t really want to talk about it.

Anyway, I didn’t know that there were more than two genders.  I didn’t know things like being FAAB (female assigned at birth) or that you could really be a man.  Or not.  Or both.  Or whatever your gender is.  I just knew I was a boy but I thought I was the only person like that on the planet.  Which, we know, I’m not.

But at 14 years old, I knew that bisexual meant that you were attracted to both genders, and I knew that was me.  I had started going to the support group in high school for queers.  They only had that support group my first year of high school.  But I went, and some of my friends went.   I had a crush on a girl.  She had been my really good friend for years.  She was also straight.  I was living as a female.  But anyway, I got to the point where I just felt like, I go to this support group.  I wear a pride bracelet.  So at dinner I just said, I like boys, but I like girls.

There, we’re done.  I’m out.

Not quite.

Then I got older, and I learned more about the transgender community, and pansexuality, and how bisexuality only covered the two traditional genders.  And I thought, no, I don’t care if someone is trans* or whatever, I like people and I don’t really care about their gender.  But as I came out, I realised that wasn’t right, either.  Also, the bisexuality community, I feel, has done a lot to erase that old definition.  We don’t want to be transphobic.  So now the bisexual community is being thrown under the bus.  Which we know, is pretty common.

A while back I wrote an essay on transphobia.  I could have also wrote one about the phobia I experience being attracted to more than one gender.  I hinted at it, but I could have done more.

I’ve been told things like, pick a gender. Be gay.  Or be straight. Don’t be both.

I can’t.  Just like I can’t live my life as a woman.

Believe me, things would be easier if I could.  But I’m not known for taking the easy road, and believe me, I tried being straight.  I can’t.  I also tried for twenty one years to be a woman, and we all know how well that worked out.

I think that the “fight” or argument, is probably a better term for this, between the identified bisexuals and the identified pansexuals is a fight that doesn’t really need to be happening?  I mean, all of us are attracted to more than one gender, and I think instead of fighting over a label, we should be working together. I think that being pan is under the bisexual umbrella, just like being a trans* guy is under the trans* umbrella.

As for the I don’t care about gender argument, which I am guilty of, before I was educated on myself, and on gender, and believe me, I still have a lot of education to go through, because people always evolve, I think it is flawed.

Hear me out.

I need people to care about my gender.  I need people to say Blake is a man.  For people to say that they don’t care about my gender hurts me.  Especially because I am in the early stages of my transition. I’ve only been on T for 4 months, and I have a long way to go. I have to still change my name and my gender and my birth certificate and a lot of things.  So for a potential partner to say that they don’t care, that hurts me.  And I don’t think people who say I don’t care about their gender are meaning to hurt people when they say that. I’ve said it.  I wasn’t meaning to harm anyone by saying that, but I think it did. Or it could have.

I tend to stay away from dating, but I could have really hurt someone by saying things that I’ve said.

I think my main point is, we need to stop throwing people under the bus.  Some bisexuals, I’m not going to speak for the entire community, that’s not appropriate, but some feel that the “standard” bisexual identity is transphobic, and they don’t want it to be.  They just want it to say that they are attracted to people, regardless of their gender identity.

And I don’t want to speak for pansexuals, either.  But some feel that the bisexual identity doesn’t fit them, and they like being pan.  And that is one hundred percent okay.  Because no one should tell you what you identify as, or don’t.  I’m just saying that I think the two communities should unite and be under the same umbrella so we can combat all the people that throw us under the bus.

If we could stop focusing on the “argument” between the two communities, I think we could fight it better.  Because both communities are definitely left out of the LG and sometimes T community.  And both of us, I feel, have been told, hey, pick one.  Pick a sexuality.  But we have.  We just happened to pick one you don’t think exists, or shouldn’t exist.

I’m sorry, I’ve drank a lot of coffee, and I seem to be rambling.

How about we stop throwing members of the LGBT*QIA community under the bus?  How about we stop throwing people under the bus?