It’s Not East Being Bisexual, Especially at the Doctor’s Office: #NowWhat

Doctor's office visits are tough when you're LGBTQ.
istock/lisegagne

Going to the doctor is a drag.

No one likes it, but it could be worse.

Just think about this: What if each time you went to the doctor you had to field invasive questions—and tests—because of your sexuality? That’s the reality of some patients who identify as bisexual.

Bisexual people have always had to put up with hate.

“They’re greedy.”

“They’re cheaters.”

Those are common assumptions many people—straight and gay—make about people who identify as bisexual.

Sadly, these assumptions fuel a culture that’s inherently distrustful of the “other.” And now, it seems these toxic opinions have seeped into doctors’ minds around the world.

Talk about vulnerability

A recent Teen Vogue article highlighted the medical care experiences of multiple bisexual people.

Moria Cohen, a self-identified bisexual, describes her experience at the doctor as offensive and expensive.

“I was constantly being cautioned about promiscuity, despite having had the same two partners for the last five years,” Cohen says.

“I was constantly being given redundant STI tests. Like every time. I was paying so much to learn that I still don’t have syphilis and it’s like, yeah I know because me and my girl and me and my boy only have sex with each other and use barriers.”

Other people find it difficult to come out to doctors.

For example, an anonymous source says they don’t come out to health care providers because they feel it would be a “hassle.” They also are uncertain how providers would react to the their identification.

This affects other LGBTQ people, too.

The same Teen Vogue piece also examined the impact sexuality has on transgender patients.

Dominick Evans says he feels “erased” by assumed heteronormativity at his doctor’s office.

“My doctor decided, without asking me the gender identity of my partner at the time, to give me a pregnancy test,” Evans says.

“He automatically assumed my partner was male. If doctors figure out I have an active sex life, their first instinct is my partnership is heteronormative.”

Tips from the Human Rights Campaign

If you feel as irritated as the people interviewed above, the Human Rights Campaign understands, and has come up with a few tips to help LGBTQ people advocate for their health.

First, LGBTQ patients should reach out to friends to get doctor recommendations.

If friends fail you, start doing online research. Then, call around to inquire about each medical practice’s patient base. Do they have LGBTQ patients? Are they sex positive?

When it’s time for your appointment, ask a friend to come with you. And don’t forget to ask your doctor questions before you disrobe. Being naked can make anyone feel vulnerable. It’s best to lay down the facts, your personal history, and your concerns before an exam begins.

And lastly…

Now, I conclude by saying all of the previous advice is much easier said than done. If you’ve been treated poorly by doctors in the past, or have had a difficult time coming out in other aspects of your life, this last section probably means nothing to you.

So, here’s a bit of advice from a jaded, straight, white writer: Demand respect. I say this as someone who has had doctors dismiss me in the past, and have made light of my sexual trauma.

When I finally dumped my terrible OBGYN, I went to my therapist to ask for doctor recommendations. With that information—and with a little advice from a friend with a great OBGYN—I finally found a general practitioner and an OBGYN who are sex positive and who know how to handle my in-office panic attacks.

Obviously, the only real way LGBTQ medical treatment can improve is if actual doctors become advocates for their LGBTQ patients.

So, come on, doctors. It’s time to get with the times and open your mind—being bi, LGTQ, or highly sexually active isn’t shameful—it’s human.

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Abbie Stutzer

Writer, editor, and owner of Ginchy! Adores smart sex ed, sustainable ag, spooky history, women's health, feminism, horror, wine, and sci-fi.