“One US study found that over a quarter of therapists seen by bisexual clients erroneously assumed that sexual identity was relevant to the goal of therapy when the
client didn’t agree, and around a sixth saw bisexuality as being part of an illness. Seven percent attempted conversion to heterosexuality and 4% to being lesbian or gay. Many therapists were openly uncomfortable about bisexuality.” (Page, E) Another British study found that bisexuals were treated worse than gays and Lesbians by their therapists. At a recent training of monsexual therapists on bisexual issues that I did, even though the therapists were middle-aged or older, most of them were quite surprised to find out that bisexuality is not just a phase, and that bisexuals can be monogamous. You might think that by going to a so-called LGBT treatment center, you would be assured of bi-competent care, but some of these organizations are known for their covert hostility to bisexuals.
So how do you find a bi-competent, or at least a bi-friendly, therapist?
The first place to look is at the Bisexuality-Aware Professionals’ Directory:
Therapists on this list have had to meet at least 3 of the following criteria for bisexuality-awareness:
*Believes that bisexuality is a valid lifestyle and is welcoming towards bisexual people
*Knows of several ways in which bisexuals’ concerns differ from gays’ and lesbians’ concerns
*Has worked professionally with several bisexual clientele in the past
* Has organized bisexually oriented support or social groups or workshops
*Is an active participant in bisexual community events or forums
*Has read 3 or more professional books or journal articles on bisexuality
*Has attended a professional workshop on the concerns of bisexual people
*Has given lectures on bisexuality
*Has written articles or books on bisexuality
Until very recently, due to biphobia, even post-graduate training programs considered training in gay and Lesbian issues to be sufficient for clinicians to work with bisexuals, since bisexuals were considered to be half gay. Therefore, most clinicians will not have had specific training, since it did not exist, but will have had to educate themselves .
If there is no one near you on the Bisexuality-Aware Professionals’ Directory, but you do have a LGBT Center nearby, call their help line. All kinds of people put up their cards at the Center, but the staff are likely to know which therapists are bisexual or, at least, who works well with bisexuals. If you are in college, the same is true of your college Counseling Center (assuming your college is reasonably LGBT-friendly). If you have a local bi group, go to a few meetings and ask who people are seeing, and who they had good experiences with and who they did not. Don’t be shy; people talk about everything at bi group. To locate a bi group, look here:
or ask for one on the BiNET USA Facebook page:
If none of that works, if you have bi friends, ask them who they are seeing. If there is an LGBT Treatment Center near you, you can ask at the bi group or ask your bi friends if it truly welcomes bisexuals, or is one of the covertly hostile places.
If none of that has worked for you, it gets more complicated. If you have insurance, go on the back of your card and look for the Web site. The Web site should have some sort of “Find a doctor” feature. This will allow you to search under Behavioral Health for “Psychologists” and “Licensed Clinical Social Workers.” Then, under these, there will be a listing of their specialty areas. Some plans list the speciality areas Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual together, and then Transgender separately. Some plans list Lesbian/Gay together, Transgender separately, and erase Bisexual. My own insurance company lists Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual together. I just looked at these listings for my area, and I was a bit dismayed. I saw people on that list that have come to my Counseling Bisexuals trainings, and who are not, in my opinion, gay, Lesbian, or bi competent, while I know that others on the list are at least gay and Lesbian competent. Once you have found names on the list, if there are a lot, start googling the ones who are near to you. See if they have any connection to the bisexual community, or even the queer community. Some therapists can afford Web sites, some are on LinkedIn:
Some may be bi activists, give talks, etc., and their knowlege about bi issues and being part of the bi community is clear once you google them. If you are lucky, and can find a therapist who has clear ties to the bisexual community and is on your insurance plan, your work is done. Call and ask to schedule an appointment.
However, if no one shows up as a result of your google search, I have heard stories over and over of people being actually harmed in therapy by therapists who thought they knew better than their bisexual client about bisexuality, and were wrong. This means you will need to do some more work at this point. Therapists actually expect to have a little discussion on the phone when first contacted. It amazes me how often people call me and say “hi, I’d like to make an appointment.” No name, no information, no reassurance that you are not a serial killer coming to my isolated office with terrible plans… I want to know why you are coming for treatment, and a little bit about you. You want to know if I can help you . So it is reasonable for you to say,” Hi, my name is Susie, I am struggling with internalized biphobia (or whatever your issue is), and I am looking for a bi-competent therapist with a great deal of expertise on bisexuality to help me with this. Do you think this is an area you could help me with?” If they say no, it’s not an area of specialization of theirs, ask if they know someone in the area who does specialize in that. If they say yes, say “I understand that it is hard to get training in counseling bisexuals, but how have you trained yourself?” You might have the criteria above printed out for comparison, and check them off. If they only have the weaker ones (the top three), say “Thank you, I will keep you in mind, but I was looking for someone with more training.” And keep going. But keep their information in case they are the best in your area.
Psychology Today has a “Find a Therapist” site:
And under this you can search for therapists who treat bisexuals. However, again looking at this for my area. let me just say that I would want to ask them the questions above. Anyone can claim that they treat people for a magazine, but true bi-competance is rarer.
Once you have narrowed it down to three or four names, it is time to schedule some consultation sessions. Therapy can be a serious investment of time and money on your part. It is reasonable for you to schedule an initial consultation session with a possible therapist to see if the two of you are a good fit. A person can be a wonderful therapist, but for whatever reason your personalities just don’t go well together. Therapists are trained to not take things personally. During that session, briefly discuss the bi issue you would be working with them on, and ask them how they would handle it. You can also ask more detailed questions about their sexual orientation and training in counseling bisexuals during this session. If they do not seem knowlegable, or make biphobic remarks, I would politely indicate that they don’t seem to be a good fit, pay them, and go on to the next person you have a consultation session scheduled with. One hopes that after these consultation sessions you have found someone you can work with.
If you do not have insurance, but have Medicare, you can follow the same process. If you have Medicaid, you will most likely have to be treated in a mental health clinic. Medicaid varies from state to state. In the more LGBT-accepting states, if you make it clear during your intake that your bisexuality is a big part of your issues, again, the staff usually know who is good at treating bi issues, and, depending on how totally overwhelmed they are, will try to assign you to that staff. In LGBT-unfriendly states, you may not want being queer as part of your medical record. Some therapists work on a sliding scale, but have to make a living, so tend not to advertise that fact. It will take persistance, but if a bi-friendly therapist who works on a sliding scale exists where you are, you may be able to track them down.
Finally, the way the insurance companies handle the specialization area “Bisexual” is problematic. It is problematic when they do not list it as a specialty area, and only list Gay/Lesbian and Transgender. I emailed the company I work for about the mental health needs of bisexuals, and pointed out how important it is that bisexuals be able to find therapists who specialize in treating them. I encourage all of you whose insurance companies erase us to do the same. You can use the Bisexual Invisibility Report as a reference for bisexual mental health needs:
However, lumping us in with gays and Lesbians, as the company I get health insurance from does, is equally problematic. If a therapist is competent to treat gays and Lesbians, and knows they are not competent to treat bisexuals, they are forced to lie in order to capture the fact that they treat gays and Lesbians. Treating bisexuals is a whole different set of competencies, and should not be lumped in with gays and Lesbians. Please write your insurance company if they treat it that way, and ask that Gay/Lesbian and Bisexual be listed separately.
Hope this helps, and that you find a wonderful, bi-competent therapist. If you do, please ask them to list themselves on the Bisexuality-Aware Professionals’ Directory by emailing email@example.com
Evans, Margaret and Barker, Meg (2010). How do you see me? Coming out in counselling. British
Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 38(4), pp. 375–391.
Page, E. (2007). Bisexual women’s and men’s experiences of psychotherapy. In B. A.
Firestein (Ed.) Becoming visible: Counseling bisexuals across the lifespan (pp.52-71). New
York, NY: Columbia University Press
Tag Archives: Bi
“One US study found that over a quarter of therapists seen by bisexual clients erroneously assumed that sexual identity was relevant to the goal of therapy when the
Over this past weekend I had the amazing privilege of going to the BECAUSE conference in Minnesota. 3 days of nothing but Bi activism, Bi workshops, performance and food( we had a Bi colored cake and if you thought far too hard my sand which was kinda Bi colors too)
I have been in my fair share of LG
BT spaces, I have given my time, my money, my spirit, my spoons and energy to those spaces and organizations.
And you know what?
Unless they can provide for me as a Bi Trans person the welcome and acceptance BECAUSE did?
I’m out of there.
I’ve spent hours working my ass off in LG/GGGG spaces only to when it came down to it, feel like I was barely tolerated. That I wasn’t as valuable as a cis queer nor as pandered and wanted as a cis straight ally. That I was worth less. That I had to or had “picked a side”. I’ve sat in meetings and in one on ones with others who privately confessed that they too are bisexual, but coming out would damage their credibility and they didn’t want to lose that. To end up like me and other out Bi people in the org or space, tirelessly working for them or their cause only to be ignored and shuffled off later.
I am done jumping through hoops.
At first the bar was so low, as long as I wasn’t being physically assaulted I was OK and I jumped it.
But it was always me and other bi’s jumping. Over and through hoops just for the mere chance, the possibility that we might be tolerated. Not welcome. Not valued. Tolerated.
I have seen online and in person what bisexual community can do, can create.
Welcome, acceptance, friendship, support. All the things were are supposed to be getting out of LG/GGGG spaces. That we so often don’t.
For me BECAUSE raised the bar. I won’t be giving time,money, spoons or spirit to places, orgs and people that can’t jump that bar.
This is me saying
The bar has been raised. NO YOU jump it this time.
[trigger warning: mentions of Bi and transphobia and rape]
I remember the very first time I ever heard the word bisexual. I was maybe 6-7 years old and riding home in the backseat of our blue minivan. The Michael Jackson song “Tabloid Junkie” was playing over the radio. We coasted to a stop at the light.
“Or see it on the TV screen
Don’t make it factual, actual
She’s blonde and she’s bisexual”
” Mommy? What’s bisexual?” I knew what a homosexual was. I knew God hated them. I knew my mother hated them.
” A bisexual is like a homosexual but they date people who are the opposite gender too.”
The light was green. The blue van crossed through and over the train tracks, badump dump bump. I looked over the little bridge and into the water. A fat catfish swam by.
” oh. Then I’m a bisexual” I said now turning to pick up my sisters dropped pacifier.
” No you are not!” She shot back.
” Yes I am! I would date girls and even marry one! “I snapped back handing the pacifier back to my sister.
The van was picking up speed,houses whizzed by fast. She was mad.She always drove faster when she was mad. But I was just as mad. I liked this new word. It felt right. Like a lightbulb had shone into a dark room that was always there, but I just missed it.A blind spot.
We were going really fast at this point.I was getting scared.
” Fine! I’ll only date and marry boys. That way god will love me and I can go to heaven! But I’m still bisexual.” I was clinging tight to the word and my sisters hand.
The car kept speeding up. My mother’s voice got louder and angrier.She told me about how gross bisexuals were. They carried AIDS, always cheated on people. They broke up happy families. It didn’t matter that a bisexual only dated opposite sex people. They would always cheat or try and break up good happy families.And doing those things got you sent to hell.
” OK. You’re right…I wouldn’t ever do those things. Those are just mean. I’m not mean like that so I must not be bisexual.” I lied. The car started slowing down. I let go of the breath I was holding.We got home and as I put the groceries away I felt this mix of joy and fear.
I had a word that described me. But I wasn’t a bad person. But I was with out a doubt a bisexual.
Later on in bed that night I reasoned it out in my mind. I would try and only date boys. I would also never ever be like those other bisexuals my mother mentioned. I knew that no matter what it was true.I was bisexual and just for that I was going to hell.
I prayed my last prayer for several decades. While cleaning I found what I had written in a old diary.
” Dear God,
I’m sorry but I am bisexual. I know this means that I am going to hell. I don’t know why I am bisexual but I’m sure I am. I’m really sorry to disappoint you. I’m not going to give people sick or cheat or break up families. I don’t know if only dating boys will mean I can go to heaven.Mom says no. So I’m going to hell. I guess I’ll have a long time to get used to the idea. Sorry.”
I spent the next few prepubescent years learning to accept that no matter what else I did or prayed, I was going to hell. By the time puberty had started and we had moved to the other side of the country I had given up trying to suppress and pray away my bisexual desires.I was going to hell anyway right? Why waste time and energy denying things.
At 12 I had my first real crush on a girl in my class. We kissed at a sleep over while watching “Gattaca” and talked in hushed giggles at how dreamy Ethan Hawke was and how we wanted to kiss Uma Thurman.
By 15 I had converted to Buddhism and found a religion that did not condemned me to endless suffering because I had kissed a classmate. I was still terrified that secretly God was out there and angry.
” if so I’m going to hell already for being bi. I can’t go to like extra super secret hell on top of that for being Buddhist.” I rationalized.
At 16 I fell in love with a wonderful smart,beautiful girl.She was from a hyper christian family.We would hold hands secretly at movies and talk about how we were just like the bisexual protagonists of our favorite anime series “Revolutionary Girl Utena”. Every time her screen name popped up on my AOL instant messenger I would grin and my stomach would flutter. We were both Bi and loved chatting about who we found attractive of any gender. We were both going to hell we thought. We had planned that as soon as we were both 18 we would meet in San Francisco. We were going to then move to Berkeley and go to school there. Then get married when it was legal and then live together until we died and then meet back up in hell.
Her parents found out about us and pulled her from public school to go to a special school, an Evangelical Christian boarding school where she would be ” cured”. The ” cure” killed her.
I was cleaning out some old things and I found her last note to me. It was on a small crumpled piece of paper.Passed between friends of friends until it reached me. She told me she loved me and that I should be happy and work on changing the world. Just like Utena in the anime.
At 17 I had moved again. But now wore all black. I hated everyone. I was angry and hurting.I was still bisexual. If asked about it I would tell people I was. I dated men then for the first time since 7th grade. My feelings and attractions to all genders never changed. I was still bisexual.
I went to college. I dated one guy then another all while developing feelings for my roommate.
Eventually after much self searching I came out on Facebook. I had no problem telling friends and new acquaintance that I was bisexual. I was proud standing there in my pirate shoes and flame red hair. I was Bi. I was exploring my gender for the first time with freedom.
I was raped by a friend for committing the sins of being a good friend, drunk and Bi.
After all bisexuals are always wanting sex.
Suddenly I was back in that van whizzing by mailboxes hearing those words. Echoing my mothers voice joined by my attacker, then rape counselors. Then friends.Then the world. It slammed me down for the next 3 years.
I would still tell others I was Bi.But it was in a small voice now.
I came out as trans* and bisexual again 3 1/2 years ago. I was attacked for it. Told by what I thought were life friends that I was an “attention whore” they joined the other voices.
I found the term pansexual on tumblr .It seemed just like bisexual! Only better! Or so all the graphics said. It was better. It was stigma free! It was hearts not parts! I tried it on. I searched around but there didn’t seem to be much community or history. Most of what I saw was pansexuals talking about how much better they were then bisexuals. But on the bisexual sites I only ever say attempts at including pansexuals. It wasn’t just Bi Net is for Bi’s but for pansexuals, fluid and queer. I remembered how much it hurt to be told being Bi was awful.
I sat down and thought about it all. I remembered the catfish,the song,kissing during Gattaca” holding hands and crying. I found so much hurt and power and strength there. The strength to be OK with going to hell possibly. I had found the Bi community. Full of challenges and beauty and intelligence. Working to change the world. To make it better. Not just patting each other on the back about how much better they were. Really working hard and against have odds.
I took up the label,sewed it onto my heart and joined in the fight.
I am bisexual because I have always been so. I’ve laughed and cried with and over that word.Fought over and for it. I’ve loved, lost and bled for it.
I have learned and fought and been joyous with the Bi community now for 3 and 1/2 years. I have gone to the white house because of this word and community.Had all kinds of amazing experiences and met great people because of it.
While it might not be perfect,it might get attacked by etymology wankers and dictionary thumpers for its Latin prefix this word is mine.
Bisexual. Now until death and into the next life or into hell after all I don’t care.
I am Bisexual and that is my word and my truth.
A few weeks ago I wrote about how biphobia impacted my life in the form of rape and it’s effects on me at the time. But the story does not end there, nor does the biphobia and pain.
I had been admitted to a day program after suicide attempts and other dangerous behaviors. It was my first time being one on one with the med giving doctor. He and a smiling pretty med student were in their along with some other tall bald thin man. I told him the whole story. I cried. The poor med students face, she will be a good doctor. Then he said those words. That it was my fault. I had been drinking and had been out as bi. Every guy knew that was code for sexually promiscuous. That I should call my mother who had coldly asked me “how much time did you waste over this? Did you blow a whole semester? How much of our money did you waste?” That I should beg her to forgive me.
Everything went so silent.My bag with my books had these little jingly silver metal bells on one of the zipper’s.I remember how cool they felt in my fingers as I crushed the metal between my fingers till they were flat and I bled. Their sad little death jingles.Everything was muffled and my vision tunneled.I felt this rage.I was murderus.I don’t remember what I shrieked at him. Maybe that he was cruel, a terrible doctor a monster.Yes I remember calling him a monster. I remember my bloody fingers crumpling up his paper and to his surprise I grabbed his little note pad and tore off the first three sheet and flung them at him.All his little jottings now smeared with blood and ruined. I was going to lunge at him.Months of rage and pain and tears.Hot tears. Then I saw the pretty med students face. She looked just as angry at him as I was. She looked like she wanted to reach out and touch me. That brought me back. I took my bag and books and walked out. No one stopped me or even noticed as I climbed up those steps from the buildings basement. I walked out into the freezing air and began to walk. I walked and walked. I made it to the grocery store maybe 4-5 miles away. My legs hurt from the hills and I had frozen matted hair and little frozen tears on my face. It was February. I called my mother in law to come get me. I wiped my face off with a tissue I found waded up in a coat pocket. I opened the van door and climbed in beside her and vowed I would never let any one hurt me or make me that angry again.
We drove home and I told her what happened.We got burger king.I had chicken fries with their weird almost ranch like buffalo sauce. I went home and crawled into bed.
I woke up and picked up Pema Chodron’s ” When Things Fall Apart”
I found one of those crushed jingle bells in the bottom of the bag years later. It still seemed to have blood on it or maybe melted chocolate and it still tried to jingle.
Why go get help for our ridiculously high suicide rates ( 40% of bisexuals have attempted suicide) or go disc louse our sexuality to get treated for health concerns? I have had medical doctors make lewd comments to me if they know, dismiss me wholesale or accuse me of lying. With that kind of treatment no wonder we have the worst health versus the L and G and Straight people!
A great effort has been made to make medical spaces gay and lesbian friendly. School counselors offices boast “safe space ” sticker s. Many students find out that it is a safe space only for lg people.
A concerted effort must be made to educate medical providers on the realities and the painful impact biphobia and erasure has on bisexual people. These are illnesses, very real and painful caused by the medical and large LG groups ignoring the health and wellness needs of the largest part of the community.
We need a plan. We need to come armed with facts and figures. Because it us clear that they will not do it for us. They would rather silently crush us like a cheap jingle bell until we have no voice.
We need to jingle and be loud in this vast sea to get noticed. We need to be fearless and look at our doctors and therapists and say ” No. You are wrong” We grow up with this idea that doctors and therapists are gods incapable of wrong existing in some sort of pure neutral science bubble, free from bias and personal hate.That bubble is so dirty it is more like a black hole. They are human and their own biphobia, misogyny and other privileges and biases can and DO blind them and cause harm rather then healing.
Stand up. Even if you cry and get angry. You are real a human and you deserve to be heard and treated with respect. Tear up papers if you have to. Get the point across. We are not some sad jingle bell the Bi community is a huge gong banging as we are buffeted about by the waves. Listen for it and take a deep breath and be strong.
Big huge disclaimer: I’m only talking about myself here not everyone else in the history of ever.This might only apply to my area of the world suburban USA. Your mileage may vary on this subject based on your own situation and stuff.Trigger Warnings: Transphobia,ableism,biphobia,bierasure,cissexism,
Still there? Ok here it is.
A few weeks(months?) back there was a whole lot of talk about how bisexuals are the devil because we can be in “straight” relationships and pass the all important hand holding test with our partners.A bunch of people were douchelords about it.I mentioned that this idea is cissexist and relies on the idea that at a glance you can always 100% know what someones gender or sex is.I got told I’m not allowed to say that or mention it.I’m still a bit confused to exactly WHY I’m not supposed to.But I’ll take the inevitable coal racking that comes with posting these things here anyways.
I don’t look or pass in anyway as “straight”.At this point I am read as either:
1:an adorably fat young teenage(if I’m lucky) 20 something guy.
2: A butch lesbian
That would be me just standing there in space.Not with my cane.But maybe sitting in a chair in some waiting room type thing.Now if you add in my cane you suddenly materialize a whole new world of options.Most of which somehow obliterate any and all gender from me.Suddenly I’m not any gender or sexuality.Suddenly I am just the cane. It becomes this weird fixture in peoples minds. Before where my body had a million questions for them, “are you a girl or a boy” “are you stone in bed ?” it suddenly silences them. In it’s place are questions like “Why do you have that?” “You are to young to use that!” “Does it hurt if I poke you here?”
Both sets of questions assume an insane level of familiarity with me and a right to my body.If I’m read as a guy but open my mouth and a noise comes out and destroys that illusion suddenly the trans questions hit me.If I’m read as a queer woman the queer questions hit me.As soon as the cane appears it doesn’t matter what I do, say or wear it takes over all.
The same is true when I am partnered with someone else. My partners and I are assumed to be lesbians one way or conversely if I am read as male two gay men.Sometimes depending on who I am with the other person and I are read as two queer friends or a straight friend and their queer BFF.I am also not physically affectionate in public with my romantic partners. So all this would have to be done in the context of two people standing near each other talking,riding in a vehicle or sitting at a table.
My body, my presentation everything is read almost universally as “queer” or “not straight”. Yes I do receive the requisite tranasphobia and gay bashing that goes along with it, both overtly and in the form of micro aggressions.
Now add the cane.
Again suddenly it doesn’t matter who I am with, or what they look like.The focus is immediately on why I have it, how, when, etc. It doesn’t matter if I look like I’m in an “gay” or “straight” relationship or none at all. The only added thing of being with another person is that they are no longer assumed in any way to be a romantic partner.They become my care giver.
In America we do not view disabled people as beings capable of love,sex and romance. Whether that is queer or straight romance in my experience (not everyone’s) doesn’t seem to matter.The very idea of a disabled person daring to be on a date, or even just outside of the house is a bigger deal then who I am walking around wal mart looking for a toilet brush with. I’ve been told so.That I am “brave” and an “inspiration” for “dealing with so much and still daring to go out” (by go out the cashier meant “go to the store for groceries) Not a week earlier the same cashier had demanded to see my id when I bought some cough syrup and examined the photo and gender marker very closely to determine if what my “real” gender was. Add a cane? Suddenly I’m not some vaguely gendered threat to people every where with my bottle of cherry cough syrup I am an ~inspiration~.
I’ve seen the looks of pity and of what I like to call the “Hallmark sees a disabled person look”. The look where able bodied people look at you and you KNOW in their mind they are getting misty eyes and going “good for you!!” directed at both me and partners.
Before I became disabled myself I was the partner of a disabled person myself.I’ve seen it from both sides.At the time we would have been read as two queer women.But as soon as people noticed that she was blind and walked with a cane I was no longer read as her partner but as her care giver.
Read as queer, read as straight, read as cis or as visibly trans.It doesn’t much matter for me because the cane, the visible disability erases all of that and replaces it with a sexless,genderless, romance less, loveless blob of personal medical questions,hallmark looks and sad faces from others over my “sorry state”
Of course I don’t speak for all bi, trans* or disabled people world wide.This is just my personal experience living where I do when I do with all the privileges and draw backs that comes with..