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Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 159–174 | Cite as

Perceived Discrimination, Coping Mechanisms, and Effects on Health in Bisexual and Other Non-Monosexual Adults

  • Emilie E. Doan Van
  • Ethan H. Mereish
  • Julie M. Woulfe
  • Sabra L. Katz-WiseEmail author
Special Section: Bisexual Health

Abstract

Bisexual individuals experience unique discrimination related to their sexual orientation, which may increase their risk of adverse health outcomes. The study goal was to investigate how bisexual and other non-monosexual individuals experience discrimination, understand how they perceive discrimination to affect their health, and examine the ways in which they cope with discrimination by analyzing responses to open-ended survey questions. The sample included 442 bisexual and other non-monosexual adults, ages 18–68 years (M = 28.97, SD = 10.30), who either reported a bisexual identity or reported attractions to more than one gender. Gender identities included women (n = 347), men (n = 42), and transgender/non-binary individuals (n = 53); 29% of participants were currently located outside of the U.S. Participants completed an online survey, including three open-ended questions regarding their experiences with discrimination, how discrimination affects their health, and methods used to cope with discrimination. Themes related to perceived discrimination included: double discrimination of bisexuals and other non-monosexual individuals by heterosexuals, lesbian and gay individuals; bisexual invalidation and erasure; and sexual victimization. Themes related to the perceived effects of discrimination on health included: impact on mental health; impact on physical health; and effect of discrimination in healthcare. Themes related to coping with discrimination included: social support; resilience; and identity-specific media consumption. Findings demonstrate that bisexual and other non-monosexual individuals’ experiences of discrimination can be additive, based on other marginalized facets of identity, including race/ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status. Our findings have implications for advancing bisexual health research from an intersectionality framework.

Keywords

Bisexuality Bisexual health Coping mechanisms Discrimination Sexual orientation 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Dr. Mereish was supported in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health (K08 AA025011). Dr. Katz-Wise was supported by a grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R00HD082340), and by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration, Leadership Education in Adolescent Health Project (6T71-MC00009). We would like to thank the participants who contributed data to this study.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Adolescent/Young Adult MedicineBoston Children’s HospitalBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of PediatricsHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Social and Behavioral SciencesHarvard T. H. Chan School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  4. 4.Department of Health StudiesAmerican UniversityWashingtonUSA
  5. 5.Division of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesMontefiore Medical CenterBronxUSA

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