6 things bisexual+ people are tired of hearing from their doctors

During a check up with a doctor I have never been to before, my nurse went through the usual stream of questions, one of which I, as a pansexual woman, had always wanted to answer: “What is your primary use of birth control?” My instantaneous answer was: “My girlfriend is my birth control.” The nurse laughed, the moment was funny and wholesome, and I shined proud of my identity. Unfortunately, that's not usually the case for most bisexual+ (bi, pan, queer, fluid, etc.) people, including me, when we go to the doctor.

Often times, we’re hit by microaggressions, misinformed assumptions, and invasive “small talk” about who we are and who we date. This can be really harmful for the bi+ community because, when going to the doctor becomes an uncomfortable and offensive experience, bi+ folks like me face even greater hurdles to accessing our doctors and having our health care needs understood. This can mean we might not get the full range of medical services we need and puts our health at great risk. Bisexual+ people are already at greater risk than our gay and straight peers for things like poor physical and mental health, intimate partner violence, and living in poverty. It takes so much to be able to get to the doctor’s office in the first place and walking in can be just as difficult.

In honor of #BiHealthMonth, the Bisexual Resource Center’s social media campaign to both motivate the bisexual+ community to make changes to improve their health and also inspire friends of the bi+ community to play an active role in improving the health of their bisexual friends, family, and community members, here are six things bi+ folks are tired of hearing from our doctors:

“Wow, being bisexual must make dating so easy, you’ve got all the fish in the sea.”

Being attracted to more than one gender does not mean that you are automatically more sexually active than straight, gay, or lesbian counterparts. Regardless of how many sexual partners you had or currently have, your doctor’s job is not to slut shame you, let their misconceptions about your identity impact your treatment, or ask if you’re lying about the number of partners you’ve had. Doctors have a duty to indiscriminately treat you with the best level of care if you have one, two, or 37 sexual partners. Bi+ individuals are also at higher risk of interpersonal violence from partners, with 61% of bisexual women and 37% of bisexual men having reported experiencing Intimate Partner Violence according to MAP’s report on disparities that bisexual people face and the more aware your doctor is of this reality, the more prepared they may be to treat you.

“Are you sure there is no way you could be pregnant?”

Bisexual+ people have the capactiy to be attracted to people of more than one gender, so sometimes we are with people who can get us pregnant, and sometimes we’re not. . You may know if unintended pregnancies are a risk for you, but your doctor may not be well-versed enough in different gender identities, relationship models, and types of sex to know if you need birth control.

“You don’t need STD/STI testing because you’re in a same-sex relationship, right?” or “I think we should run some STD/STI tests, just in case.”

Bisexual+ people’s doctors  may insist on unnecessary STD/STI testing because of their misconceptions about bisexuality+,  OR they assume you don’t need STD/STI testing based on how they perceive your identity.

“When was the last time you had sex? I mean… real sex?”

It’s so invalidating for a medical professional to think there’s only one way to have sex. Sex with partners of the same sex is still...sex. You are still sexually active and the sex of your partner is not in question. The doctor’s job is to figure out how to best secure your health despite their heteronormative understanding of sex.

“So you’ve been in a relationship for a while now. You’re not bisexual anymore? Finally picked a side?”

You’re still bisexual no matter the gender of your first, last, current, previous, or future partners. You haven’t “settled on one” and should never have to because it is perfectly valid to be attracted to more than gender. And not only is it valid, but it’s very common, with bisexual+ people making up the majority of the LGBTQ community. Unfortunately, many people have the false notion that bisexuality+ is not a real identity, but rather a layover between coming out as gay or straight. If your doctor takes your word on who you are and what your experiences are, they are better equipped to treat you as a whole person.

“Don’t worry, I experimented some back in college too, I know how it is”

First of all, my identity  is not an experiment. Second of all, I came in for your medical expertise, not to hear about your college adventures. Please go back to taking my blood pressure.

Check out more Bi+ Health Awareness Month posts by GLAAD!

GLAAD Campus Ambassador Miles Joyner at University of South Carolina captured their personal experiencces of struggling with trauma, anxiety, and more throughout #BiHealthMonth.

Olivia Zayas Ryan, a GLAAD Campus Ambassador at Elon University, wrote about the sexualization and the delicate intersectionality of of being a queer woman of color. Read her story about the gaping disproportions of sexual violence that queer women and femmes of color face.

GLAAD Campaigns intern Micah Prussack also introduces Bisexual Resource Center’s 5th annual Bisexual Health Awareness Month. Learn about the research that BRC has compiled on the health disparities that bi+ community faces.