LG(BT?): Bisexual and trans people face erasure within communities

Bisexual and transgender flags being flown during rally for marriage equality on the steps of the US Supreme Court in Washington DC. Photo by Melissa Kleckner

Bisexual and transgender flags being flown during rally for marriage equality on the steps of the US Supreme Court in Washington DC. Photo by Melissa Kleckner

Erasure can be defined as the removal of a person, place, or thing. Erasure has also been modified over time to mean “overlooked” and “ignored.”

Over 40% of bisexual people have considered suicide. 75% of transgender youth feel unsafe at school. 100% of people interviewed said that both these groups were erased outside and inside the LGBT+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender+) community.

“Lesbian and gay people get lots of recognition, but bi and trans people are sort of left out of the equation,” Daniel Walton, a 16 year old transgender male said. “And when we are recognized, it’s not always in a positive light.”

Bi-Erasure is normalized when characters in movies and TV shows are obviously attracted to more than one gender but the writers tiptoe around the word “bisexual” almost as if it is a bad thing. Bi-Erasure is also normalized when bisexual people are told to “pick a side,” or that “they’re just confused”.

“It’s expected outside of the community though,” Walton said. “It hurts more when it’s inside the community.”

The LGBT+ community has had it’s fair share of erasing and invalidating bisexual people. Gay men and women have stated that they won’t date a bisexual person of the same gender because they are “prone to cheating,” or “aren’t really gay.”

“I feel like they are erased inside the community,” Kai Bovik, a transgender male (10) said . “There is a difference, obviously, between gender and sexuality but people almost make that difference too much inside and outside the LGBT+ community. They’ll say, ‘Oh, you’re trans. You shouldn’t be apart of this community, because we’re not the same thing.’ There were petitions to drop the B and the T from the acronym.”

Trans people have been told they have mental illnesses, they’re just confused, and that they’re not ready for the hormones that could potentially help the dysphoria that is caused. And that’s just outside the community. Inside the community there’s a stigma against feminine trans men, and masculine trans women.

“When cis people break gender roles it’s ground breaking, but when trans people do it, we’re not actually trans.” Walton said.

How do we stop erasure?

“Education. I feel like education is a huge step”  Jessica Pinney, a bisexual student (12) said.

There’s more to educating others than facts about people in those groups to those outside the LGBT+ community, the history of LGBT+ people comes into play when educating people inside the community.

“Learning about our history, because you’re [people inside the LGBT community] just spreading the same toxic stuff that was once said to us.” Patricia Mallard, a lesbian student (12) said.

The issue that differentiates it from any other issue in the LGBT+ community is that while Lesbians and Gays receive recognition, Bisexuals and people who are Transgender don’t. This is a huge problem due to the fact that the entire purpose of having an LGBT+ community is acceptance. Members of the community preach love and acceptance so why stop after the first two letters?

Education is a key factor in solving this problem, maybe not once in for all, but getting information out can be beneficial.