Homophobia, Biphobia & Transphobia

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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I am a woman and I am gay, and I say gay as a general blanket term. I was fortunate enough to find myself in a situation where I did not really know I was pansexual until high school and by then, the friends I had knew me well enough and cared about who I was as a person and not how I identified. My dad had already passed away at that point (not that he would have particularly disowned me or anything like that) and my mother did not care about much as long as I was doing well in school and in my personal life.

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I had no fear rooted in me. However, when I had gotten my first girlfriend a fear all of a sudden appeared. It was one I had not known until I was going out in public with her, in our small hick town of the same seven thousand people who had been there for generations. We were getting looked at, and I say that politely, when we wanted to hold hands in the movies or flirt at dinner.

They were disagreeable where we grew up, and we tried not to let that bother us much, but it did cause some fights of tension between us especially when there were more situations of physical aggression towards us. I was scared then, and sometimes even now. The memory of it was uncomfortable but not inherently dangerous, but that was the least of my worries. My situation was not great by any means but then I remember it is so much worse in places across the sea. Sexuality is a right but, in some places, it is a privilege to be yourself. All human rights can be connected to sexual rights, for example, the right for equality, the right to privacy, family, and home, the right to life, liberty, and security of person, the right for recognition as a person before the law, the right to marry and to found a family, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the right to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment, the right for equal protection under the law, and the right of bodily integrity.

When the topic of sexuality comes into everyday conversation be sure that everyone has their own opinions of it; even if the topic is not a common thought to run through their heads. It is not always clear the view someone is going to have over it. Sometimes, it ranges from the extreme to complete indifference. It is inherent, however, in this right now society to run into the concept of homophobia. Homophobia is characterized as “a fear or hatred of gays, lesbians, bisexual, and/or queer people” or in other words any sexuality that is not considered completely straight or heterosexual. This is not an essay about stereotypical homophobia where the straights go to work taking down the gays by the rule and decree of the Holy Bible like the generalized example Perry Glasser gives in his journal article “If I Can’t Have You”: Yvonne Elliman: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Memoir, “…untrammeled sexuality lies at the root of homophobia. White men who beat the crap out of gay males are not enforcing some Biblical injunction. These Christian soldiers are propelled by their terror of penetration…” (Glasser, 2005). That is not to say these people do not exist because they definitely do, but these people are also not the only ones with their hands in the metaphorical jar of homophobia. Women and sexuality are being grossly overshadowed.

Nowadays, homophobia unfortunately belongs more so to the gay community itself and not just internalized homophobia either. What can be incredibly terrifying is being overlooked in your own community if you are even able to have it. In the gay community there is a lot of lesbian and bisexual women invisibility (Burn, 2011). Gay men do tend to overshadow lesbians, but both tend to completely erase bisexuality. Usually, they think they have a sound argument by saying people who of bisexuals or pansexuals are confused with their love and that they do not know what they want. That they find it easier to cheat on people, that they do not value the relationship the same as a “fully” gay person. It seems to be obvious that people would not actually think that is the case, but I hear it more often than not. By definition, someone who identifies as bisexual has “the capacity for emotional, romantic, and/or physical attraction to more than one sex or gender.” (Ulrich, 2011). My first real girlfriend was nervous to date me because she thought she had more competition. I hear the same lines from people who identify the same as me or bisexuals. There are not a lot of spaces that gay women are allowed to have to themselves. Often when someone spots a gay spot like a bar or a club or otherwise, there is usually an overshadowing population of gay men there rather than gay, bisexual, or pansexual women. Women can often be excluded from those spaces and often not frequent them because of that reason. And that is just in Western culture, it is even worse for women in other countries where they could be killed on site or taken from their homes to be abused or even to be shunned from society.

Within the LGBTQ+ community one can find things like biphobia, transphobia, panphobia almost rampant in the community. More often than not says Ulrich from the Bisexual Invisibility: Impacts and Recommendations, “Bisexuals experience high rates of being ignored, discriminated against, demonized, or rendered invisible by both the heterosexual world and the lesbian and gay communities.” (Ulrich, 2011). There are some who believe some sexualities should not even be welcome to pride or events like it. Things like that and those things I mentioned before? It is a sign of phobia from another more linear sexuality. This can be seen as the same signs and narrative as homophobia, however, this time sexuality specific. Nichols, from Sexual and Relationship Therapy, explains, “Although there is less research about sexual intimacy among women, internalized homophobia has also been implicated in sexual problems among lesbians and bisexual women” (Nichols, 2004). This is another example of homophobia coming to fruition in a relationship. If a strict lesbian was in a relationship with a person who identified as a bisexual, there can be an increased feeling of hostility and insecurity towards one gender more than another because a bisexual can like any self-identified gender. There is just a degree of preference involved with their choice, and obviously if they even connect with that partner personality-wise.

It can be common in these relationships to think they have more competition because that person has a less specific preference for which gender they go out with. This goes for any person, while not all of them I must add, in a relationship with someone who is bisexual or pansexual which means they usually like anyone regardless of their identified gender. This can lead their significant other to reject their partner’s sexuality, feelings, and mental status as well resulting in more complaints about the relationship than if this issue was not apparent. This is textbook biphobia. Other examples of biphobia can include: thinking they have not made up their minds, refusing to accept someone’s bisexuality when they have not had sex with a man, women, or other, assuming a bisexual “just wants to have their cake and eat it too”, and assuming bisexual means “available.” The invisibility of these women hurt even more when it comes from both sides of the field giving them no safe space for themselves to heal and rest.

It seems to be the consensus that many people believe that the gay community is already on board with feminism and is actively moving forward with it, however, the community sometimes is the one that falls behind on support for those people who need it most. The visibility of feminism can be cut short in the event of fighting for other rights and issues when, instead, they should be using feminism to support and help those causes because they are often apart of one another which can be identified as intersectionality. Many examples can be sourced from white gay men “sharing” their spaces with the lesbian, queer, and trans community and alternatively; how those communities feel being in places that are recognized or catered to gay men. Feminism should be at least one of the many things that should be embraced by all facets of the gay community. Any community that does these things cannot claim the moral high ground when they are actively leaving part of said community in the mud. That power they are holding over the heads of others needs to be relinquished.

Homophobia is a real problem not only in America but other countries as well where therapy conversion and camps exist, however, it is coming to a point where it is either accepted or not but there is another big problem. That problem is, of course, homophobia which results in mental illness and sometimes still even in death. Not being able to accept any part of a person’s identity in any case would be harrowing and detrimental to anyone’s health. And being able to accept sexuality is definitely within that category and renders no different. There is not a lot of visibility on the issue because, first of all, it is an internal thing—that has been covered. But there is also a section of it where the guilt will not allow for realization or admittance of this problem so in more than one case the person does not even realize they may have this issue. Just chalking it up to preference or other miscellaneous reasons. The community needs to become self-aware of what they are doing, and what they are saying that can be harmful or accidently phobic to those around them. Some of us do not even realize the implications of our actions.

For example, that is why on a lot of apps like Grindr, which is for gay males to find each other, a lot of the descriptions will be asking for “masc4masc.” That just means one “masculine” male is only solely looking for another “masculine” male. So, anyone considered “feminine” will be rejected and left unwanted because of this internalized homophobia of another person. This happens in several different ways in each spectrum of sexuality, not just gay, especially at a club or a bar setting. This is an issue, unfortunately, that a lot of the community has to deal with, and outside forces do not often offer help or make the situation better. The rejection of the feminine within men is an automatic rejection of actual women, and of course, I mean all types of women.

When there is biphobia and panphobia present, there can be a cause of greater health disparities, and this means having a high risk for depression and other mood and/or anxiety disorders. It can continually wear down on your mental health when people from both communities try to deny your existence because it does not fit in with their ideals of what one should be. Ulrich says, “Bisexual women in relationships with monosexual partners have increased rate of domestic violence compared to women in other demographic categories” just because of the fear and phobia they experience on a daily basis. Not to mention that many usually do not come out to their health providers which can cause them to get incomplete information from their doctors for safe sex practices and correct medical care. In the 1980s and the 1990s, “bisexuals were vociferously blamed for the spread of HIV” even though the virus was spread through unprotected sex and not that of a bisexual identity. (Ulrich, 2011). The blame of a whole breakout was put on people who could have not caused it even if they wanted to unless they were having unprotected sex and getting treated. However, people decided to blame a label that someone happened to have.

It comes down to this: bisexual issues may not always be the same as lesbian issues or gay issues, and like any living person they need that support too. However, because of this invisibility, which can be affected on a personal level, they tend to have different and worse experiences than that of a person who has a more linear sexuality. Being able to focus on bisexual and pansexual health improves the quality of life for these people, and is that not what everyone wants for themselves? To have that opportunity to increase their quality of life. If we are able to stay aware of these experiences and bias, then I believe that creates a chain reaction of change for the community and those people who feel shunned from a label. We need inclusivity and representation for women of these sexualities. That inclusivity can be the perfect way to create better conditions for all individuals alike.

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Homophobia, Biphobia & Transphobia. (2020, Jul 06). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/homophobia-biphobia-transphobia/