Post submitted by Beth Sherouse, former ACLS Public Fellow, HRC Senior Content Manager
Last year, HRC Foundation released a research brief about the major health disparities facing bisexual people.
The brief, produced in collaboration with national bisexual advocacy groups BiNet USA, Bisexual Resource Center and Bisexual Organizing Project, showed that bisexual people face striking rates of poor health outcomes ranging from cancer and obesity, to sexually transmitted infections to mental health problems. Studies suggest that bisexual people comprise nearly half of all people who identify as LGB, making the bisexual population the single largest group within the LGBT community; yet, as a community, we have done little to address these needs.
A few months before the brief was released, I had a painfully awkward experience with a doctor. As an openly bisexual woman, I knew it was important to come out to the person who was caring for my health. But when I did, she had no idea what I even meant by saying I was bisexual, much less what related health concerns I might have.
While I chose to disclose my sexual orientation to my doctor, a recent survey found that 39 percent of bisexual men and 33 percent of bisexual women failed to disclose their sexual orientation to any medical provider, compared to only 13 percent of gay men and 10 percent of lesbians.
As we recognize Bisexual Health Awareness Month, I’ve been thinking about my doctor’s visit more and more. As awkward as it might be, we need to have these conversations. Medical providers need to do better, but until they do, I encourage those who have the safety, access and courage to speak up about bisexual health needs and inclusive practices.
Your actions won’t only improve your own health and healthcare, but that of others in the LGBTQ community.